Xinjiang Travel Guide

On October 1st. 1955, Xinjiang (New Frontier in Chinese) was established as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. TheXinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is located in northwest China and borders eight countries: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, India and Afghanistan. It also borders three provinces of China: Tibet, Qinghai, and Gansu and is a very important hub connecting China to the east coast of the Mediterranean.

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region covers over 1.66 million square kilometers (617,763 square miles), one-sixth of China.There are thirteen major ethnic groups living in Xinjiang. The largest group is the Uyghurs who represent 45% of the total population according to statistics released by the government in 2004. Presently, there are 14 prefectures and 88 counties under the government of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, including 33 counties in border areas. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) is an important component of Xinjiang and has 174 regimental agricultural and stockbreeding farms under it. By the end of 2004, the population of Xinjiang had reached 20,951,900.

Xinjiang is surrounded by 3 mountains ranges, the Altay Mountains, the Tienshan Mountains, and the Kunlun Mountains. There are also two geological basins in Xinjiang. The Tarim Basin is located in the southern part of Xinjiang and covers 530,000 square km. The Taklimakan Desert is located in the center of the Tarim basin and, at 330,000 square km, is the largest in China and the second largest shifting desert in the world. The Tarim River, 2,100 km. in length, is the longest inland river in China. The Zhunggar Basin, located in the northern part of Xinjiang, is the second largest basin in China and covers380,000 square km. The Kurbantunggurt Desert is located in the center of the Zhunggar Basin; at 48,000 square km, it is thesecond largest desert in China.

We have a desert climate with a low annual rainfall of only 150 millimeters (6 inches). Summer is hot and dry, while winter is cold, the southern part of Xinjiang being a dry cold, while the northern part is a damp cold from Siberia. Tourism in Xinjiangstarts at the beginning of March and runs until the beginning of November.

There are 138 kinds of mineral resources that have been found in Xinjiang, 9 of which rank first in China. Xinjiang has abundant deposits of petroleum, coal, natural gas, gold, copper, nickel, rare metals and est. The estimated coal reserve in Xinjiang is 2.19 trillion tons, accounting for 40% of the total of the country. Also, Xinjiang is well-known around the world for its richness in gold, gems and jade.

Xinjiang Silk Road Routes

Within China the Silk Road is divided into three main routes when it exits the Hexi corridor into Xinjiang: the Southern,Central, and Northern Silk Road routes to Kashgar and Urumqi.

The Southern Silk Road route runs west along the northern foot of the Kunlun Mountains, via Charklik, Cherchen, Niya, Hotan, Karkilik, Yarkent, and then to Kashgar. The Central Silk Road route runs west along the southern foot of the TienshanMountains by Loulan, Korla, Kuqa, and Aksu to Kashgar. The Northern Silk Road route runs along the northern foot of the Tienshan Mountains, starting from Hami (Kumul), to Turpan and then to Urumqi north east of Kashgar. All three of theseroutes of the Silk Road run between mountain ranges and the edges of the Taklamakan and Gobi Deserts, traversing oases inhabited by the descendants of ancient tribes.

From Kashgar there are three main routes to the west: the Southern route from Kashgar runs through the Pamir Plateau to the Karakoram Highway to Pakistan and India; the Central route passes from Kashgar through Afghanistan, Iran and the Middle East to the Mediterranean; the Northern route crosses through Central Asian (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, the Caspian and the Caucuses) to Turkey. From Urumqi the Silk Road route travels north through Kazakhstan to Russia.