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city, northern Shaanxi sheng (province), north-central China. It became famous as the wartime stronghold of the Chinese communists from the mid-1930s to 1949. Yan'an is on the heavily dissected Loess Plateau, which consists of loess (windblown soil) that is deeply etched by gullies. The city stands on the south bank of the Yan River in a basin surrounded by hills. It is a road junction for northeast Shaanxi and was a strategic town in historical times, being located near the border between the part of Shaanxi where agriculture is practicable and the arid lands to the north that merge into the Ordos Plateau