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[HugChina] Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

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Bernd Chang

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Posted on Sun, Jun 24, 2012 07:23 AM 01560





Xinjiang, located in northwest China,with the capital Urumqi, is the largest political subdivision of China. Xinjiang was set up by the Qing Imperial Government in 1884 and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was proclaimed in 1955.

General information

Area: 1.6 million square km

Population: 20.95 million (2007)

Population % of Uygur 45%

Capital City: Urumqi

Nationalities: Uygur (45%), Han (41%), Kazak (7%), Hui (5), Mongolian (0.8%), Xibe (0.2%), Krygyz (0.9%), Tajik (0.2%), and Dongxiang (0.3%).

Average temperature: in January, -20oC to -15oC in the north and -10oC to -5oC in the south; in July, 22oC to 26oC.

Deserts: Taklimakan Desert in the Tarim Basin; Gurbantunggut Desert in the Junggar Basin; Gumtay Desert in the east.

Rivers: the 2,137-kilometer Tarim River, China's longest inland river, Ili and Ertix Rivers.

Administrative divisions: 5 autonomous pretectures; 16 cities, 65 counties and 6 autonomous counties.

Neighboring areas: Gansu and Qinghai Provinces, Tibet Autonomous Region.

Neighboring countries: Mongolia, the former Soviet Union, Afghanistan, Pakstan and India.

Major cities: Urumqi, Kashi, Yining, Hami, Karamay, Aksu, Shihezi, Holan, Korla.

Tourist attraction: Tianchi Lake near Urumqi, in the Tianshan Range.

Geography of Xinjiang

Xinjiang is the largest political subdivision of China—it accounts for more than one sixth of China's total territory and a quarter of its boundary length. It is split by the Tian Shan mountain range (Uyghur: ????? ????, ULY: Tengri Tagh), which divides it into two large basins: the Dzungarian Basin in the north, and the Tarim Basin in the south. Much of the Tarim Basin is dominated by the Taklimakan Desert. The lowest point in Xinjiang, and in the entire PRC, is the Turpan Depression, 155 metres below sea level; its highest point is the mountain K2, 8611 metres above sea level, on the border with Pakistan. Other mountain ranges include the Pamir Mountains in the southeast, the Karakoram in the south, and the Altai Mountains in the north.

Most of Xinjiang is young geologically, having been formed from the collision of the Indian plate with the Eurasian plate, forming the Tian Shan, Kunlun Shan, and Pamir mountain ranges. Consequently, Xinjiang is a major earthquake zone. Older geological formations occur principally in the far north where the Junggar Block is geologically part of Kazakhstan, and in the east which is part of the North China Craton.

Xinjiang has within its borders the point of land remotest from the sea, the so-called Eurasian pole of inaccessibility (46°16.8?N 86°40.2?E? / ?46.28°N 86.67°E? / 46.28; 86.67? (Eurasian pole of inaccessibility)) in the Dzoosotoyn Elisen Desert, 1,645 miles (2648 km) from the nearest coastline (straight-line distance).

The Tian Shan mountain range marks the Xinjiang-Kyrgyzstan border at the Torugart Pass (3752 m). The Karakorum highway (KKH) links Islamabad, Pakistan with Kashgar over the Khunjerab Pass.

Climate of Xinjiang

Xinjiang, situated in the hinterland of Asia, has a distinctive continental climate characterized by drastic change in temperature, abundance of sunshine and low precipitation. In January, the coldest month, the minimum temperature averages below -20ºC (-4 °F ), in Hunggar Basin, rises to -10ºC in Tarim Basin and drops sharply to as low as -52ºC (-61.6 °F ), in Fuyun and Qinhhe area on the Junggar Basin fringes which are known as the coldest areas in China. In July, the hottest month, the mean temperature remain above 33ºC (91.4 °F ), in Turpan Basin, China's lowest area, and may reach as high as 48ºC (111.2 °F ),. Hence, Turpan is reputed as a "flaming place". However, the temperature is still below zero on the high mountains where permanent snow and active glacial activities are found.

Economy of Xinjiang

Xinjiang is known for its fruits and produce, including grapes, melons, pears, cotton, wheat, silk, walnuts and sheep. Xinjiang also has large deposits of minerals and oil.

Xinjiang's nominal GDP was approximately 220 billion RMB (28 billion USD) in 2004, and increased to 427.4 billion RMB (62.6 billion USD) in 2009, due to the China Western Development policy introduced by the State Council to boost economic development in Western China. Its per capita GDP for 2009 was 19,798 RMB (2,898 USD). Southern Xinjiang, with 95 per cent non-Han population has an average per capita income half that of Xinjiang as a whole.

The oil and gas extraction industry in Aksu and Karamay is booming, with the West–East Gas Pipeline connecting to Shanghai. The oil and petrochemical sector account for 60% of Xinjiang's local economy.

Xinjiang's exports amounted to 19.3 billion USD, while imports turned out to be 2.9 billion USD in 2008. Most of the overall import/export volume in Xinjiang was directed to and from Kazakhstan through Ala Pass. China's first border free trade zone (Horgos Free Trade Zone) was located at the Xinjiang-Kazakhstan border city of Horgos. Horgos is the largest land port in China's western region and it has easy access to the Central Asian market.

History of Xinjiang

History has seen various administrations established in Xinjiang. The Xinjiang region was under the rule of Xiyuduhu in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), the rule of Beiting and Anxi in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), administered by Alimali and Bieshibali Provincial authorities of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). The Imperial Government of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), after suppressing the rebellion in the western frontier, named the region "Xinjiang" meaning new territory or the new frontier area where a rebellion has just been put down, and set up the administration of Jiangjunfu in Ili. Xinjiang, as a province of China, was set up by the Qing Imperial Government in 1884. After Chinese Communist Party took over China (1949), Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region was proclaimed in 1955.

Administrative divisions

Xinjiang is divided into two prefecture-level cities, seven prefectures, and five autonomous prefectures for Mongol, Kirgiz, Kazakh and Hui minorities.

—Sub-Provincial Autonomous Prefecture —

Ili/Yining ????????

— Prefecture-level city —

Karamay ????

Ürümqi ????

— Prefecture —

Altay ?????

Tacheng ????

Turpan ?????

Hami ????

Kashgar ????

Aksu ?????

Hotan ????

— Autonomous prefectures —

Bortala (Mongol) ?????????

Changji (Hui) ???????

Kizilsu (Kirgiz) ???????????

Bayingolin (Mongol) ?????????

— Sub-prefecture-level city —

Shihezi ????

Wujiaqu ????

Tumxuk ?????

Aral ????

Places of Interests and Tourist Attractions of Xinjiang

Xinjiang is a Uygur Autonomous Region, and its attractions are its people and scenery. Nationalities living in Xinjiang love dancing, singing, and playing their own unique musical instruments.

The area has long played a key role in Asian history, although it is a little known part of the world. Its location in the middle of the Asian continent has resulted in a succession of conquerors and traders passing through the area over the last two millennia. For much of that time, it has lain within the Chinese sphere of influence. However, since the expansion of the Czarist Empire into Central Asia in the nineteenth century, it has become one of a number of areas in Asia where the Chinese and the Russians have competed for the allegiance of the local inhabitants.

Capital city, Urumqi, is 4000 km away from Beijing. The Beijing-Urumqi express is China's longest train ride. Xinjiang Museum has a collection of historical relics of the various nationalities living in the region, and its exhibits include Roman and Persian coins and other relics of the Silk Road. At Bazaar, visitors can buy handicrafts, taste pancakes and shish-kebabs.

The Nanshan Pasture

About 65 kilometers south of Urumqi is the Nanshan Pasture. Here, there are mountains, valleys, fountains, waterfalls, cypress, and pine trees. It is an exciting experience for tourists as they ride horses and climb mountains in the fresh air during the day while they stay in a yurt eating barbecued mutton during the evening.

Lake Tianchi

Tianshan (Heavenly Mountains) and Lake Tianchi (Heavenly Lake) are 115 kilometers from Urumqi. The southern slopes of the Tianshan have plenty of sunshine and water to make it a heaven of carpets of green grasses and bright wild flowers. Imagine riding a handsome horse through knee-deep flowers and grasses! The Heavenly Lake, at 1,980 meters elevation half way up on Mount Bogda in Fukang County, is 3,400 meters long, 1,500 meters wide and 105 meters in depth at its deepest spot. Its total area is 4.9 square kilometers. The white snow on top of Mount Bogda and the green water of the lake form beautiful scenery, making it not only a summer resort but an ideal alpine arena.

The Flaming Mountains

The Flaming Mountains stand in the north of the Turpan Basin and is 100 km long, 10 km wide and 500 meters above sea level. Composed mainly of red sandstone, the mountains look like raging flames in the blazing sun which gives them the name 'The Flaming Mountains'. In midsummer, the temperature waves may reach 800 Degrees Celsius. The mountains featured in the tales of "The Monkey King Passing the Flaming Mountains" and his battle with Princess Iron Fan in "The Pilgrimage to the West" by Wu Cheng'en of the Ming Dynasty.

The Ancient City of Gaochang

Situated at the foot of the Flaming Mountains, The Ancient City of Gaochang was founded in the first century B.C. and abandoned by the end of 13th century. It consists of three parts: the Inner City, the Outer City and the Palace City, with an area of two million square meters of rammed earth. The outer city wall is 5-4 kilometers long. Remains of a temple can be seen in its southwest and southeast corners. In the middle of the outer city is the inner city, which is 3 km in circumference. There is a high terrace with a 15-meter-high structure called "Khan's Castle". The rectangular Palace City is in the north, the rammed earth foundation are the ruins of the old palace buildings

The Bizaklik Caves

The Bizaklik Thousand-Buddha Caves are situated on the cliffs of Mutougou Valley east of Turpan. During the 6th to 13th century, the caves were a Buddhist center. There are a total of 77 caves, 40 of which have murals including stories from "Buddhacari-takavysutra" and Mourning Buddhist Monks and Sakyamuni's disciples from "Nirvana", which are excellent works of rare art.

The Tumuli

The Tumuli, known as "The Underground Museum", is located southeast of Turpan and north of the ancient Gaochang City. They are scattered over a 10 square kilometer area. Buried there are both officials and common people of the Cheshi, Hun and mainly the Han nationalities. About 1,000-year-old mummified corpses have been unearthed from more than 500 tombs and excavations have yielded thousands of precious relics.

The Grape Valley

The Grape Valley lies on the west side of the Flaming Mountains. It is eight kilometers long and half a kilometer wide. It is extremely hot during the summer in Turpan, especially on the Flaming Mountains. But it is pleasantly cool and humid in the valley with its criss-cross irrigation channels and many leafy trees. The valley abounds in grapes, the most famous being the Seedless White, Manaizi, and Rosy. The acreage under grape cultivation totals 220 hectares but also contains peaches, apricots, apples, pomegranates, pears, watermelons and musk melons.


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