Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
The area was first settled in about 3C BC , by people of Turkish descent. Xinjiang was made most famous however, with the opening of the Silk Road over two million years ago, whereby major trading and religous expeditions between east and west took place until well into the eight century .
Archaeologists believe that the Uigurs (the major ethnic group in Xinjiang) are of European descent. Indeed, even in terms of appearance, the Uigurs look very different from the Han Chinese and they certainly perceive themselves this way. 50 % of the 15 million population here are Uigur. On numerous occasions this group (especially those based around the Ili valley), have tried to break free of Chinese control and declare their independence. In 1955, Xinjiang was renamed the Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region, an attempt by the Chinese to appease the Uigur population.
Despite this difficult history, the people in Xinjiang are extremely friendly and welcome tourists to join in their festivals, celebrations and experience their unique way of life. Kirghs, Kazakhs, Tajiks, Hui, Mongols, Daur and Russians (among others) all inhabit the lands here, using the rich Xinjiang resources in different ways. Although much of the land itself is extremely inhospitable, consisting of vast expanses of desert and mountain, the resources here are good. Grape, fruit and cattle thrive well and the land itself offers some spectacular scenery. The Tianshan Mountain range divides the whole area into two with Urumqi, Yining and Hami in the north and Turpan, Kashgar and Hotar in the south. The landscape is incredibly diverse, and as you travel across the province the scenery changes from desert to lush green Alpine hills in one hour, and to valleys and Turkish settlements in the next. Xinjiang contains the driest, hottest and coolest spots in all of China. The longest inland river-the Tarim River is here, the lowest area, -the Aidin Lake in the Turpan Basin and the largest desert in China can also be found in Xinjiang.
One thing to bear in mind here is the TIME! Although officially run on Beijing time, Xinjiangers also use their own system. Beijing time here means that the sun doesn't rise until 09:00 and it is still light at midnight in the summer months. When making travel arrangements, be sure to check which time zone is being used or you could get caught out!
Major Attractions in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
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