Interesting Facts about Xinjiang

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Xinjiang is a small province (approximately the size of Iran) located in the western region of China, sharing borders with the Soviet states of Central Asia and other countries like Mongolia, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan and Russia. The people residing in the Xinjiang province are primarily Muslims and known as Turkic-Uighurs. Although it has had a history of being an autonomous and independent province previously, by the 18th century Xinjiang came completely under Chinese control.

Some of the interesting facts about Xinjiang are:

Until the 18th century, the Xinjiang population comprised primarily of Mongols and Turkic groups contesting for their own small provinces. In the 18th century after being governed under the Chinese Qing Dynasty, Xinjiang was brought completely under the control of China. The province however was officially set up much later in 1884.

The Xinjiang location typically comprises of steppes, mountains and deserts. The province also happens to be one of China’s largest administrative regions, sharing borders with 8 countries.

Of late, large numbers of the Han Chinese community have been migrating to the Xinjiang region, leading to serious conflicts between the two communities of Han Chinese and Uighurs. While the Uighurs has allegations of discrimination and marginalisation, the Han Chinese views the Uighurs as threats to their community along with having stereotyped notions about them.

The 2000 census accounted for 40 percent of the population of Xinjiang being Han Chinese. The census excludes the troops stationed at the region and many other unregistered migrants. Uighurs comprised of 45 percent of the population.

Special permits are required if tourists from abroad want to visit the Tibetan regions or Xinjiang region in China.

Xinjiang is an important province that contributes to the economy of China and its GDP through its oil and petrochemical resources thereby accounting for up to 60% of the same. Xinjiang also offers an important trade route connecting China to Central Asia and the countries beyond.

When the Communists took over China, the Han Chinese community was encouraged to settle down in the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang in 1955.

Xinjiang has a nuclear testing facility at Lop Nur in the Tarim Basin. The first nuclear test was conducted there in 1964.

The year 2009 saw severe civil unrest and bloody clashes between the Han Chinese and Uighur communities with casualties accounting to about 200 people as reported by officials.

The province’s Xinjiang-Tibet highway is known to be the highest road in the world. The region where it passes over the Kunlun Mountains and onto the Tibetan Plateau, the height reaches to as much as 6000m. The road also passes through disputed lands of the border between India and China.

The Kite Runner, a film based on Khaled Hosseini’s novel of the same name was actually filmed in Kashgar, a city on the western end of Xinjiang and not in Afghanistan as the story has it.

Since the late 1990s, the government of China has been paying special attention to the economic development of the region and taking efforts to reduce disparities and discriminations. Many economic and political reforms have been made for the welfare of the farmers and pastoralists of the Xinjiang region.

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