9 things you don’t know about Xinjiang

Chinese Culture

Photo by CFP. Photo by CFP.

Located in the northwestern China, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region has a long and rich history. Here are some things you may not know about Xinjiang.

1. Its one of the largest regions in China

Photo from CFP.

Photo from CFP.

Xinjiang is 1.66 million square kilometers (641,000 square miles) making it nearly four times the size of the U.S. state of California, and one-sixth the size of all of China. Xinjiang also has the longest boundaries among China’s provinces and autonomous regions, sharing 5,600 kilometers (3,479 miles) of frontier with Mongolia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and India.

2. It has some of the most beautiful landscapes in China

The landscape of Xinjiang covers diverse ecological regions including the Insukati Valley, Flaming Mountains, Taklimakan desert, Kanas Lake, and Nalat Grassland.

Flaming Mountains (Photo from CFP)

Flaming Mountains (Photo from CFP)

Taklimakan desert (Photo from CFP)

Taklimakan desert (Photo from CFP)

Kanas Lake (Photo from CFP)

Kanas Lake (Photo from CFP)

Nalat Grassland (Photo from CFP)

Nalat Grassland (Photo from CFP)

3. The largest ethnic group are the Uygurs

Uygurs make up the largest ethnic group in Xinjiang (48 percent) at 10.37 million in 2013, followed by 8.4 million (39 percent) Han, and 1.54 million (7 percent) Kazaks. There are a total of 47 ethnic groups represented in the region.

Uygur means “unity” or “alliance.” The origin of the ethnic group can be traced back to the Dingling nomads in northern and northwestern China and in areas south of Lake Baikal and between the Irtish River and Lake Balkhash in the third century B.C., according to Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region People’s Government Information Office.

Uygurs have deep roots in the region. Unlike many nomadic tribes in Central Asia, Uygurs developed in oasis towns along the Silk Road, Time Magazine reported. Uygurs converted to Islam in the 10th Century AD and the city of Kashgar became one of the major learning centers of Islam.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

Photo by CFP.

Photo by CFP.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

4. There are many famous people from Xinjiang

Famous celebrities that hail from Xinjiang include CCTV host Nigmat Rahman, actress Jiang Xin, actress Tong Liya, and director Lu Chuan.

Photo from XINHUA

Photo from XINHUA

5. It has the longest airline routes in China.

Xinjiang has 16 airports, the most of all provinces and regions in China.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

6. Xinjiang food is delicious

If you’re visiting Xinjiang, be sure to sample some traditional foods such as sautéd spicy chicken, hand pilaf (rice eaten with the hands), shashlik (skewered meat), nang (a crusty pancake), and pulled noodles.

Photo from CFP

Shashlik (Photo from CFP)

Photo from CFP

Nang (Photo from CFP)

hand pilaf

Hand pilaf (Photo from CFP)

7. It is known for many products

Xinjiang specialties include lavender, cotton, tomato, mutton, beef, jujube, and various fruits.

Photo from XINHUA

Photo from XINHUA

8. It’s rich in mineral resources

Xinjiang has the richest mineral resources in China, with 138 different types accounting for more than 80 percent of all minerals discovered in the country. Nephrite is one of China’s top five famous jades and most of it is found in Hetian, Xinjiang.

photo from CFP

photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

Nephrite (Photo from CFP)

9. The entire region operates on one time zone

Although Xinjiang uses Beijing time (GMT +8), it spans two time zones and sunlight is two or three hours behind Beijing. Many people rise two hours earlier than they naturally would to be in synch with the eastern part of the country.

Photo from CFP

Photo from CFP

Story by CCTV America and Xinhua.