Xinjiang

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Xinjiang (Mandarin, ‘new frontier'; Sinkiang or Chinese Turkistan) Autonomous region in nw China, bordered by Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakstan (n and w), Mongolia (e) and Kashmir and Tibet (s); the capital is Ürümqi. Xinjiang includes the Dzungarian Basin to the e and the Tarim Basin to the w. The Altai, Tian Shan, and Kunlun mountains frame the region to the n, w, and s respectively. First conquered by the Chinese in the 1st century bc, Xinjiang changed hands many times in the following centuries. From the 13th to 18th centuries, the Mongols loosely controlled the area. In 1756, the Qing dynasty assumed control of the region. It became a Chinese province in 1881. It is a mainly agricultural region growing wheat, cotton, maize, rice, millet, vegetables, and fruit. Livestock rearing (particularly sheep) is also important. The area is rich in minerals including oil, copper, zinc, gold and silver. Industries: iron and steel, chemicals, textiles. Area: 1,647,435sq km (636,075sq mi). Pop. (2000) 19,250,000.