History and development of Xinjiang (2003.05)
Source: Global Times [11:13 July 11 2009]
The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (also called Xinjiang for short), situated in the border area of northwest China and the hinterland of the Eurasian Continent, occupies an area of 1.6649 million sq km, accounting for one sixth of Chinese territory. It has a land border of 5,600 km bounded by eight countries. It was an important section of the ancient Silk Road. According to statistics, in the year 2000 Xinjiang had a population of 19.25 million, including 10.9696 million people of other ethnic groups than the Han, China's majority ethnic group. There are 47 ethnic groups in Xinjiang, mainly the Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Xibe, Tajik, Ozbek, Manchu, Daur, Tatar and Russian. It is one of China's five autonomous regions for ethnic minorities.
Since ancient times, Xinjiang has been inhabited by many ethnic groups believing in a number of religions. Since the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-24 A.D.), it has been an inseparable part of the unitary multi-ethnic Chinese nation. In the more than 50 years since the People's Republic of China was founded, the people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, with concerted and pioneering efforts, have jointly written brilliant pages in the annals of its development, construction and frontier defense, causing earth-shaking changes in the social outlook of the region.