Xinjiang

Xinjiang Overview

Stretching vast distances across oasis-studded deserts and snowy mountain peaks, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, slightly larger than Western Europe or Alaska, is home to a population on par with that of Shanghai, with just under 20 million people living in cities and towns that go back to the days of the Silk Road. Of those 20 million, a 45% majority are Uyghur, with Kazakh, Hui Chinese (ethnic Chinese Muslims) and smatterings of other ethnic minorities mixing with a Han Chinese population that has shot up in the last 50 years from around 8% of the total in 1949 to nearly 41% today.

For travelers, Xinjiang (Xīnjiāng, 新疆) makes for a fascinating experience. In a few weeks, you can stay with quasi-nomadic Kazakhs in traditional yurts on the shores of Tian Chi (Heavenly Lake), explore the ruins of the desert city of Jiaohe, haggle over a silk carpet or finely wrought knife in a Kashgar bazaar and see caves full of ancient Buddhist statues and frescoes near Kuqa. You'll find that Xinjiang is like no other place in contemporary China, the people and culture retain a distinct Central Asian quality despite many centuries of Chinese influence.

Xinjiang history

Xinjiang climate

Xinjiang attractions

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