Uyghur: شىنجاڭ ئۇيغۇر ئاپتونوم رايونى
Xinjang Uyghur Aptonom Rayoni
Xīnjiāng Wéiwú'ěr Zìzhìqū
Abbreviations: 新 (Pinyin: Xīn)
Xinjiang is highlighted on this map
Origin of name 新 xīn – new
疆 jiāng – frontier
"new frontier"
Administration type Autonomous region
Capital Ürümqi
CPC Ctte Secretary Zhang Chunxian (张春贤)
Chairman Nur Bekri (نۇر بەكرى or 努尔•白克力)
Area 1,660,001 km² (1st)
Population (2010)
 - Density
21,813,334 (25th)
13/km² (29th)
GDP (2011)
 - per capita
CNY 657.5 billion
US$ 101.7 billion (25th)
CNY 29,924
US$ 4,633 (19th)
HDI (2008) 0.774 (medium) (21st)
Major nationalities Uyghur – 45%
Han – 41%
Kazakh – 7%
Hui – 5%
Kyrgyz – 0.9%
Mongol – 0.8%
Dongxiang – 0.3%
Pamiris – 0.2%
Xibe – 0.2%
Prefecture-level 14 divisions
County-level 99 divisions
Township-level 1005 divisions
ISO 3166-2 CN-65
Official website (Various languages)
Source for population and GDP data:
《中国统计年鉴—2005》 China Statistical Yearbook 2005
ISBN 7503747382
Source for nationalities data:
《2000年人口普查中国民族人口资料》 Tabulation on nationalities of 2000 population census of China
ISBN 7105054255
As at December 31, 2004

Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. It is a large, sparsely populated area which takes up about one sixth of the country's territory. Xinjiang borders three provinces of China including the Tibet Autonomous Region to the south and Qinghai and Gansu provinces to the southeast. In addition, it borders eight separate countries: Mongolia to the east, Russia to the north, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India to the west. It administers most of Aksai Chin under the authority of the People's Republic of China, although the region is claimed by India as part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Xinjiang's central position in the region, and the active presence of Islamic faithful, make the province a pivotal region for peace and prosperity in the area.


"Xinjiang" or "Ice Jecen" in Manchu, literally means "New Frontier," a name given during the Manchu Qing Dynasty in China. It is home to a number of Turkic ethnic groups, the largest of which are the Uyghurs. The region is often referred to as Chinese Turkestan or East Turkestan, due to its ethnic links to Central Asia and specifically Turkestan. This strong linkage, combined with the high population of Uyghurs in the region has also led to a push for an independent Xinjiang, sometimes referred to as Uyghuristan by Uyghur activists.


Xinjiang has historically been an important area in Asia, due to its geographically significant location at the center of the continent. Throughout its history, a succession of conquerers and traders have passed through the area, many of whom challenged Chinese control of the region.

In 60 B.C.E., Xinjiang became part of China's territory when the central government of the Western Han Dynasty founded the West Region Frontier Command there. In 1884, the government of the Qing Dynasty officially established Xinjiang as a province. On October 1, 1955, it was declared the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region by the People's Republic of China.

Historic names

Once part of Western Regions, the area was later known as East Turkestan. As part of the People's Republic of China, the official name of the region today is the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, although it is often called Xin for short. Among Uyghur activists who seek independence from China, the region is also referred to as Uyghuristan.


Xinjiang is divided into two prefecture-level cities, seven prefectures, and five autonomous prefectures. (Two of the seven prefectures are in turn part of Ili, an autonomous prefecture.) These prefectures are then further divided into 11 districts, 20 county-level cities, 62 counties, and six autonomous counties. Four of the county-level cities do not belong to any prefecture, and are de facto administered by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

Conventional[1] Uyghur
(kona yezik̡)
Uyghur Latin
(yengi yezik̡)
Hanzi Pinyin Remarks
Prefecture-level cities
Ürümqi ئۈرۈمچى شەھرى Ürümqi Xəh̡ri 乌鲁木齐市 Wūlǔmùqí Shì
Karamay قاراماي شەھرى K̡aramay Xəh̡ri 克拉玛依市 Kèlāmǎyī Shì
Directly administered county-level cities
Shihezi شىخەنزە شەھرى Xihənzə Xəh̡ri 石河子市 Shíhézǐ Shì Administered de facto by the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps
Tumxuk تۇمشۇق شەھرى Tumxuk̡ Xəh̡ri 图木舒克市 Túmùshūkè Shì
Aral ئارال شەھرى Aral Xəh̡ri 阿拉尔市 Ālā'ěr Shì
Wujiaqu ئۇجاچۇ شەھرى Wujiaqü Xəh̡ri 五家渠市 Wǔjiāqú Shì
Turpan Prefecture تۇرپان ۋىلايىتى Turpan Vilayiti 吐鲁番地区 Tǔlǔfān Dìqū
Kumul Prefecture قۇمۇل ۋىلايىتى K̡umul Vilayiti 哈密地区 Hāmì Dìqū
Hotan Prefecture خوتەن ۋىلايىتى Hotən Vilayiti 和田地区 Hétián Dìqū
Aksu Prefecture ئاقسۇ ۋىلايىتى Ak̡su Vilayiti 阿克苏地区 Ākèsū Dìqū
Kashgar Prefecture قەشقەر ۋىلايىتى K̡əxk̡ər Vilayiti 喀什地区 Kāshí Dìqū
Tacheng Prefecture تارباغاتاي ۋىلايىتى Tarbaƣatay Vilayiti 塔城地区 Tǎchéng Dìqū subordinate to Ili Prefecture
Altay Prefecture ئالتاي ۋىلايىتى Altay Vilayiti 阿勒泰地区 Ālètài Dìqū
Autonomous prefectures
Kizilsu Kirgiz Autonomous Prefecture قىزىلسۇ قىرغىز ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى K̡izilsu K̡irƣiz Aptonom Oblasti 克孜勒苏柯尔克孜自治州 Kèzīlèsū Kē'ěrkèzī Zìzhìzhōu
Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture بايىنغولىن موڭغۇل ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى Bayinƣolin Mongƣol Aptonom Oblasti 巴音郭楞蒙古自治州 Bāyīnguōlèng Měnggǔ Zìzhìzhōu
Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture سانجى خۇيزۇ ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى Sanji Huizu Aptonom Oblasti 昌吉回族自治州 Chāngjí Huízú Zìzhìzhōu
Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture بۆرتالا موڭغۇل ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى Bɵrtala Mongƣol Aptonom Oblasti 博尔塔拉蒙古自治州 Bó'ěrtǎlā Měnggǔ Zìzhìzhōu
Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture ئىلى قازاق ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى Ili K̡azak̡ Aptonom Oblasti 伊犁哈萨克自治州 Yīlí Hāsàkè Zìzhìzhōu

Geography and geology

Mount Kongur in Karakul lake, close to Karakoram Highway in Xinjiang province (China).

The geographic position of Xinjiang makes it a very important location strategically. In history, Xinjiang served as the key controlling section of the well-known Silk Road, while it is now a crucial segment of the railway leading to the second Eurasia Continental Bridge. 

Xinjiang is the largest political subdivision of China, with an area of 1.66 million km². It accounts for more than one-sixth of China's total territory and a quarter of its total boundary length. It is divided into two parts by Mount Tianshan with the parts traditionally being referred to as North Xinjiang (north of the Tianshan mountains), and South Xinjiang (south of the Tianshan mountains). Dzungarian Basin lies to the north, and Tarim Basin lies to the south within this divide. In the center part of Tarim Basin stretches the Taklimakan Desert, the largest mobile desert in China and the second largest in the world. Xinjiang's lowest point is the Turfan Depression, which is 155 meters below sea level and also serves as the lowest point in all of China. Its highest peak, K2, stands on the border of Xinjiang and Kashmir, and at 8,611 meters above sea level, is the second highest mountain on earth.

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.

The Eurasian pole of inaccessibility, the point on land farthest from any ocean, is located approximately 320 km (200 miles) from the city of Urumqi, within the boundary of Xinjiang. It is located at Lat. 46 degrees 16.8 minutes N, Long. 86 degrees 40.2 minutes E, in the Dzoosotoyn Elisen Desert, which is 1,645 miles (2648 km) from the nearest coastline (in straight-line distance).

The Tian Shan (Tengri Tagh in Uyghur meaning mountains of the spirits) mountain range marks the Xinjiang-Kyrgyzstan border at the Torugart Pass (3752 m). The famous Karakorum highway (KKH) known as the "highway in the clouds" links Islamabad, Pakistan with Kashgar over the Khunjerab Pass. to the Chinese, it is referred to as "Friendship Highway."

Water resources are rich in Xinjiang. There are over 570 big and small rivers, and the amount of water per capita is higher than the national average. Xinjiang is also extremely rich in biological resources, with about 3,000 types of higher plants, making up ten percent of the total in China.

Rivers and Lakes include:

  • Tarim River
  • Yarkant River
  • Konqi River
  • Hotan River
  • Ebinur Lake
  • Bosten Lake
  • Ayakkum Lake
  • Aqqikkol Lake

Major Cities:

  • Urumqi
  • Turpan
  • Kashgar
  • Karamay
  • Yining
  • Shihezi


A panoramic view of Urumqi's city center taken from Red Mountain (Hong Shan).

Xinjiang is known for its fruits and produce, including grapes, melons, pears, cotton, wheat, silk, and walnuts. In addition, it has large deposits of gold, chromium, copper, nickel, rare metals, salts, and nonmetals for building. Xinjiang also has deposits of coal and oil, making it both an economically and strategically significant area for the People's Republic of China.

The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC) is an important part of Xinjiang's economy, with 174 regimental agricultural and stockbreeding farms operating under it.

Xinjiang's nominal GDP was approximately 187 billion RMB (about 23 billion USD) in 2003, and increased to 220 billion RMB (about 28 billion USD) in 2004, due to the China Western Development policy introduced by the State Council to boost economic development in Western China. Its per capita GDP for 2003 was 9,710 RMB (1172 USD).

Oil and gas extraction in the prefectures of Aksu and Karamay is booming, especially with the West-East Gas Pipeline connecting all the way to Shanghai on China's eastern coast. Along with this oil and gas boom, the predicted reserve of coal in Xinjiang is 2.19 trillion tons, accounting for 40 percent of the total of the entire country. This abundance of resources makes the province an incredibly important source of energy for China.

Xinjiang's exports amounted to 3.047 billion USD, while imports turned out to be 2.589 billion USD in 2004. 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 has easy access to the Central Asian market. In March 2006, Xinjiang will also open its second border trade market to Kazakhstan, which will be called the Jeminay Border Trade Zone.


The languages of Xinjang.

Xinjiang is home to 47 different ethnic groups, including several Muslim Turkic groups such as the Uyghurs and the Kazakhs. Uyghurs make up nearly half of the population, which makes Xinjiang very different demographically from other parts of mainland China, and has led to its official designation as an autonomous region for ethnic minorities. Along with the Uyghurs and Kazakhs, other minority ethnic groups in Xinjiang include Hui Chinese, the Kirgiz, the Mongols, the Russians, the Xibes, the Tajiks, the Uzbeks, the Tatars, the Daurs, and the Manchus.

The percentage of ethnic Han Chinese (the majority ethnic group of China) in Xinjiang has grown from 6 percent in 1949 to an official tally of over 40 percent at present. This figure does not include military personnel or their families, or the many unregistered migrant workers who have come into Xinjiang from other parts of the country. Much of this demographic transformation can be attributed to the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a semi-military organization of settlers that has built farms, towns, and cities over scattered parts of Xinjiang. The demographic shift is seen by Uyghur independence advocates as a threat to Uyghurs and other non-Han ethnicities in maintaining their distinct culture within Chinese society, similar to the case of Tibet. At the same time, the minorities of Xinjiang have been historically exempted from the One-Child Policy, and many Uyghurs have emigrated out of Xinjiang to other parts of China, causing the percentage of Uyghur people in the total population of China to increase steadily.

Ethnic groups in Xinjiang, 2000 census
Nationality Population Percentage
Uyghur 8,345,622 45.21
Han 7,489,919 40.58
Kazakh 1,245,023 6.74
Hui 839,837 4.55
Kirghiz 158,775 0.86
Mongol 149,857 0.81
Dongxiang 55,841 0.30
Tajik 39,493 0.21
Xibe 34,566 0.19
Manchu 19,493 0.11
Tujia 15,787 0.086
Uzbek 12,096 0.066
Russian 8935 0.048
Miao 7006 0.038
Tibetan 6153 0.033
Zhuang 5642 0.031
Daur 5541 0.030
Tatar 4501 0.024
Tuvans 3260
Salar 3762 0.020

Excludes members of the People's Liberation Army in active service.

Map of Xinjiang indicating leading nationality in each prefecture-level division.

In general, Uyghurs are the majority in western Xinjiang, including the prefectures of Kashgar, Khotan, Kizilsu, and Aksu, as well as Turpan prefecture in eastern Xinjiang. Han Chinese are the majority in eastern and northern Xinjiang, including the cities of Urumqi, Karamay, Shihezi and the prefectures of Changji, Bortala, Bayin'gholin, Ili (especially the city of Kuitun), and Kumul. Kazakhs are mostly concentrated in Ili prefecture in northern Xinjiang.

Some Uyghur scholars claim descent from both the Turkic Uyghurs and the pre-Turkic Tocharians (or Tokharians, whose language was Indo-European). Relatively fair-skin, hair, and eyes, as well as other so-called 'Caucasoid' physical traits are not uncommon among these individuals. However, generally Uyghurs usually resemble individuals from neighboring countries, including those from Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Pakistan.

In 2002, there were 9,632,600 males (growth rate of 1.0 percent) and 9,419,300 females (growth rate of 2.2 percent) in Xinjiang. The population overall growth rate was 10.9 percent, with a 16.3 percent birth rate and a 5.4 percent mortality rate.

Major ethnic groups in Xinjiang by region, 2000 census
Uyghurs Han Chinese Kazakhs others
Xinjiang 45.2% 40.6% 6.7% 7.5%
Ürümqi PLC 12.8% 75.3% 2.3% 9.6%
Karamay PLC 13.8% 78.1% 3.7% 4.5%
Turpan Prefecture 70.0% 23.3% <0.1% 6.6%
Kumul Prefecture 18.4% 68.9% 8.8% 3.9%
Changji AP + Wujiaqu DACLC 3.9% 75.1% 8.0% 13.0%
Bortala AP 12.5% 67.2% 9.1% 11.1%
Bayin'gholin AP 32.7% 57.5% <0.1% 9.7%
Aksu Prefecture + Alar DACLC 71.9% 26.6% <0.1% 1.4%
Kizilsu AP 64.0% 6.4% <0.1% 29.6%
Kashgar Prefecture + Tumushuke DACLC 89.3% 9.2% <0.1% 1.5%
Khotan Prefecture 96.4% 3.3% <0.1% 0.2%
Ili AP1 16.1% 44.4% 25.6% 13.9%
- Kuitun DACLC 0.5% 94.6% 1.8% 3.1%
- former Ili Prefecture 27.2% 32.4% 22.6% 17.8%
- Tacheng Prefecture 4.1% 58.6% 24.2% 13.1%
- Altay Prefecture 1.8% 40.9% 51.4% 5.9%
Shihezi DACLC 1.2% 94.5% 0.6% 3.7%

[3]Does not include members of the People's Liberation Army in active service.

P = Prefecture; AP = Autonomous prefecture; PLC = Prefecture-level city; DACLC = Directly-administered county-level city


Elementary school classroom in western province of Xinjiang, China.

In the early years after the founding of the People's Republic of China, the average educational level for the population aged six and above in Xinjiang was less than grade one of primary school. By 1990, the average number of years of education for the population aged six and above was 6.52 years.

The focus of the literate population in Xinjiang has gradually transferred from education at the primary school level to that of junior and senior middle school. However, the percentage of the population with solely a primary school education still accounts for more than half of the total population. Although the number of intellectuals with a college and/or university education has been increasing very rapidly during recent years, the proportion of the group is still very small in terms of the total population. Compared with the provinces and autonomous regions with advanced economic development in China, there is still a noticeable gap.

With the deepening of China's transformation and open policy, the cultural and educational undertakings in Xinjiang have developed greatly. According to statistics at the end of 2000, in Xinjiang there are 20 colleges and universities with an enrollment of 72,867 students and 7,924 teachers; 2,000 secondary schools with an enrollment of 1,311,845 students and 89,211 teachers; and 6,718 primary schools with 2,477,413 students and 131,259 teachers.

Xinjiang's educational system is continuing to develop as the People's Republic of China invests more into its northwest region. Consequently, basic education levels are being improved within Xinjiang, and various adult education approaches are also being developed.

HIV/AIDS and drug abuse

With a population of about 20 million and an officially estimated 60,000 infections, Xinjiang has one-tenth of China’s AIDS cases and the highest HIV infection rate in the country. Chinese authorities estimate that Kashgar prefecture, with a population of about three million, has 780 cases, but public health experts say the real figure is probably four times as much and rising fast.

Until recently, drug addicts were largely left as the responsibility of the police, who regarded them as simple criminals whose drug use was to be combatted mercilessly. Resistance to treating drug addiction as a public health concern has been high in Xinjiang, mirroring what some international health experts say was more generally, a slow response to HIV/AIDS in China[4] overall.


The Xinjiang Networking Transmission Limited operates the Urumqi People Broadcasting Station and the Xinjiang People Broadcasting Station, broadcasting in Mandarin (dialect), Uyghur (dialect), Kazak and Mongolian.


Professional sports teams in Xinjiang include:

  • Chinese Basketball Association
    • Xinjiang Guanghui Flying Tigers

See also

  • Battle of Jushi
  • East Turkestan independence movement
  • Gaochang
  • Jiaohe Ruins


  1. Zhōngguó dìmínglù 中国地名录 (Beijing, Zhōngguó dìtú chūbǎnshè 中国地图出版社 1997) ISBN 7503117184.
  2. Department of Population, Social, Science and Technology Statistics of the National Bureau of Statistics of China (国家统计局人口和社会科技统计司) and Department of Economic Development of the State Ethnic Affairs Commission of China (国家民族事务委员会经济发展司), eds. Tabulation on Nationalities of 2000 Population Census of China (《2000年人口普查中国民族人口资料》). 2 vols. (Beijing: Nationalities Publishing House (民族出版社), 2003. ISBN 7105054255)
  3. Ili AP is composed of Kuitun DACLC, Tacheng Prefecture, Aletai Prefecture, as well as former Ili Prefecture. Ili Prefecture has been disbanded and its former area is now directly administered by Ili AP. 2000年人口普查中国民族人口资料,民族出版社,2003/9 (ISBN 7105054255)
  4. AIDS China. Retrieved August 7, 2008.


  • Ogden, Suzanne. 2006. Global Studies: China. Dubuque, Iowa: McGraw-Hill. 14-16. ISBN 0073198722.
  • Soucek, Svatopluk. 2000. A History of Inner Asia. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521651691.
  • Starr, S. Frederick. 2004. Xinjiang: China's Muslim Borderland. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe Inc. ISBN 9780765613172.
  • United States. 2006. China's Changing Strategic Concerns: The Impact on Human Rights in Xinjiang: Roundtable Before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, One Hundred Ninth Congress, First Session, November 16, 2005. Washington: U.S. G.P.O. ISBN 9780160754906.

External links

All links retrieved August 1, 2013.

Administrative Divisions of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Provincial Capital:Ürümqi City) Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg
Prefecture-level Cities, Regional District, Autonomous Prefectures Urban Area Districts, County-level Cities, Counties, Autonomous Counties
Ürümqi City Tianshan District | Saybagh District | Xinshi District | Shuimogou District | Toutunhe District | Dabancheng District | Dongshan District | Ürümqi County
Karamay City Karamay District | Dushanzi District | Baijiantan District | Urho District
Turfan Prefecture Turfan City | Toksun County | Piqan County
Hami Prefecture Kumul City | Yiwu County | Barkol Kazakh Autonomous County
Hotan Prefecture Hotan City | Hotan County | Lop County | Minfeng County | Pishan County | Qira County | Keriya County | Karakax County
Aksu Prefecture Aksu City | Wensu County | Xayar County | Baicheng County | Awat County | Kuqa County | Kalpin County | Toksu County | Uqturpan County
Kashgar Prefecture Kashgar City | Maralbexi County | Poskam County | Peyziwat County | Kargilik County | Yopurga County | Shule County | Makit County | Yengisar County | Yarkand County | Shufu County | Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County
Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture Artux City | Akqi County | Ulugqat County | Akto County
Bayin'gholin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture Korla City | Hejing County | Yuli County | Hoxud County | Qiemo County | Bohu County | Luntai County | Ruoqiang County | Yanqi Hui Autonomous County
Changji Hui Autonomous Prefecture Changji City | Fukang City | Miquan City | Qitai County | Manas County | Jimsar County | Hutubi County | Mori Kazakh Autonomous County
Börtala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture Börtala City | Jinghe County | Wenquan County
Autonomous Regional Districts directly under the jurisdiction of the County-level Cities Shihezi City | Aral City | Tumushuke City | Wujiaqu City

Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture

(The Tacheng Prefecture and Altay Prefectures are under the provincial jurisdiction of the Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture.)
Autonomous Territories Yining City | Kuitun City | Yining County | Tekes County | Nilka County | Zhaosu County | Xinyuan County | Huocheng County | Gongliu County | Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County
Tacheng Prefecture Tacheng City | Wusu City | Emin County | Yumin County | Shawan County | Toli County | Hoboksar Mongol Autonomous County
Altay Prefecture Altay City | Qinggil County | Jeminay County | Fuyun County | Burqin County | Fuhai County | Habahe County


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