The northwest Chinese border region of Xinjiang, abbreviated as "Xin", is the largest province in China with an area of more than 1.6 million square kilometers, or one sixth of Chinese total territory. Xinjiang's multiracial population of 19 million mainly consists of 13 ethnic people, including Uygurs, Kazaks, Hans, Huis, Kirgizsand and Mongols. The capital of the region is Urumqi.
Xinjiang has three main mountains: Kunlun-Aljin in south, Altay in north, and Tianshan in the center, which divides the region into north and south Xinjiang, each with a huge basin namely Junggar and Tarim. China's longest interior river, Tarim, the largest desert, Taklimakan, and the lowest basin, are all in the region
Peculiar natural scenery, long history, venerated culture, and splendid local folklore form Xinjiang's wealth of tourist resources. The region has fourteen key cultural sites under state protection, three national reserves, one national scenic resort and one national famous historical and cultural city. Main scenic spots include Tianshan Mountain, Tianchi Lake, Kizil Thousand- Buddha Grottoes, ruins of Gaochang Ancient City and Ancient Loulan, Swan Lake, Flaming Mountain, and so on.
Sprawling on the northwest side of Mt. Bogda like a sparkling pearl imbedded in Tianshan Mountain, the Tianchi Lake in Fukang City, is geologically a moraine lake 1980 meters above sea level, 4.9 square kilometers in area and 90 meters deep fed by snow runoffs. Snow-mantled peaks and sky-piercing spruces, among other things, define Tianchi Lake as a scenic place with prismatic splendor.
With an altitude of 2073 meters above sea level, the 450-square-kilometer Sayram Lake to the southwest of Bole is Xinjiang's largest alpine lake. The grasslands and mountain slopes ashore are studded with yurts, while big herds of cattle and sheep graze in the meadows. During the Nadam Fastival, here is the site of a variety of merry-making activities.
The Ruins of Jiaohe
Lying in Yarnaz Gully 13 kilometers west of Turpan, the ruins used to be the capital of Yarkholo, one of 36kingdoms of West Territory. The ancient city was first established during the Han dynasty as a garrison town on a 30-meter-high loess plateau bounded by two rivers—thus the name Jiaohe, which means "confluence of two rivers". Present ruin of the city, built during the Tang dynasty, is 1650 meters long and 300 meters wide. Debris and dilapidated walls and bare foundations are what remain of the place, but the inexorable pace of history is nevertheless keenly felt from the city layout and vestiges of yamens, monasteries, pagodas and back alleys.
Beziklik Thousand-Buddha Grottoes
Situated on the western side of the Flaming Mountains and 48 kilometers northeast of Turpan, the grottoes were Buddhist cave-temples built from the Northern and Southern dynasties to the Yuan dynasty. Remnants of murals are found in 40 of the 77 cave-temple that have remained to this day. The murals, colophons and text on them, furnish valuable material for the study on history, culture and art of Xinjiang.
In the north of Turpan Basin lies the aptly-named Flaming Mountain, 100 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide. Under the scorching sun, the mountain with red sandstone slopes looks like a flaming dragon coiled in the center of the Turpan Basin, and hence the name.