known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province
Province (China)
A province, in the context of Chinese government, is a translation of sheng formally provincial level divisions, which is an administrative division. Provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions, and the special administrative regions, make up the four types of province of administrative division...

 in Southwest China
Southwest China
Southwest China is a region of the People's Republic of China defined by governmental bureaus that includes the municipality of Chongqing, the provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou, and the Tibet Autonomous Region.-Provinces:-Municipalities:...

 with its capital in Chengdu
Chengdu , formerly transliterated Chengtu, is the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. It holds sub-provincial administrative status...

. The current name of the province, "四川", is an abbreviation of "四川路" (Sì Chuānlù), or "Four circuits of rivers", which is itself abbreviated from "川峡四路" (Chuānxiá Sìlù), or "Four circuits of rivers and gorges", named after the division of the existing circuit into four during the Northern Song Dynasty
Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty was a ruling dynasty in China between 960 and 1279; it succeeded the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period, and was followed by the Yuan Dynasty. It was the first government in world history to issue banknotes or paper money, and the first Chinese government to establish a...

The province and its vicinity were the cradle of unique local civilizations, which can be dated back to at least the fifteenth century BC
15th century BC
The 15th century BC is a century which lasted from 1500 BC to 1401 BC.- Events :* 1504 BC – 1492 BC: Egypt conquers Nubia and the Levant.* 1500 BC – 1400 BC: The Rigveda was composed around this time....

 (coinciding with the later years of Shang Dynasty
Shang Dynasty
The Shang Dynasty or Yin Dynasty was, according to traditional sources, the second Chinese dynasty, after the Xia. They ruled in the northeastern regions of the area known as "China proper" in the Yellow River valley...