In a land area of approximately 120,000 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the cities of Xichang and Panzhihua, the counties of Dechang, Huidong,Huili, Mianning, Miyi and Yanyuan, and some surrounding townships, where churches and mission points have been established.
There are about 1.71 million populations in total, including Han, Yi, Tibetan and Hui ethnic minorities.
Mandarin Chinese; Xichang, Yi and some other local dialects are in use in the diocesan territory.
Catholicism was introduced to Xichang (formerly called Ningyuanfu) in the 18th century. French missioner Father Jean-Baptiste-Marie Budes de Guébriant came to spread the Gospel in the region since 1903. He became the first bishop of Xichang when it was erected as vicariate apostolic seven years later.
The prelate was transferred to Canton (Guangzhou) in 1915. The successive two bishops of Xichang have contributed to the flourishing Church development: preaching in the territory, building new churches, a seminary, a convent for virgins, schools, hospitals and homes for the aged.
Xichang was elevated to a diocese in 1946. Before the founding of People's Republic of China in 1949, there were some 40 Chinese and foreign priests, 36 nuns, 11,000 Catholics and 23 churches, according to the Pontifical Yearbook. But all churches were closed and religious activities were stopped when the Cultural Revolution began in 1966.
After China adopted the reform and open-door policy in late 1970s, elderly priests and nuns gradually returned to the diocese and resumed religious activities. Father Xie Chaogang was elected and ordained as the first Chinese bishop of Xichang in 1990 without papal mandate. He led the local Church until he died in January 1999. Currently, Xichang has no bishop, 12 priests, 21 nuns and 30,000 faithful in 17 churches.
Xichang Railway Station is a main station on the railway line Kunming-Chengdu. A fast express train line is under construction which should shorten travelling times. There are also some other stations in the city, including the Xichang north railway station and Xichang south railway station.
The city has its own airport, Xichang Qingshan Airport, which is attached to the spaceport by a railroad line and highway directly.
Xichang lies on the Kunming - Chengdu expressway. The section to the south is in use now while the mountainous section to Chengdu in the north is still under construction.
Owing to its low latitude and high elevation, Xichang has a mild climate. Under the Köppen system, the city belongs to the humid subtropical zone. Winters feature mild days and cool nights, while summers are very warm and humid. Monthly daily mean temperatures range from 9.6 °C in January to 22.3 °C in July; the annual mean is 16.9 °C. Unlike much of the province, which lies in the Sichuan Basin, humidity levels in winter are rather low, but like the rest of the province, rainfall is concentrated in the months of June through September, and the city is virtually rainless in winter.
Xichang is China's launch site for geosynchronous orbit launches. Xichang Satellite Launch Centre is located about 64 kilometers northwest of the city which went into operation in 1984. Communications satellites are the most common payload to be inserted into orbit from here. A number of Long March 3 rockets have been launched successfully from the spaceport.
Agriculture and heavy industry are other main industries of Xichang, while Panzhihua city's economy relies almost entirely on its giant mine, one of the biggest in China.
Xichang lies in near the border of southern Sichuan province. The city is just northeast of the prefecture-level city of Panzhihua. Anling River, which flows into Jinsha River (Yangtze River headwaters), is the main river in the area.
Xichang is a historical city of more than 2,000 years. It was a place of strategic importance in the southwestern edge of ancient China. It is also called "Moon City" as people can see a large and bright moon due to its good conditions of altitude, temperature, sunshine, longitude and latitude as well as low suspended particulate in the air.