Aksu (Akesu)

Source: Global Times [17:33 July 14 2009]

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Full Name: Aksu Prefecture

Chinese Name: 阿克苏地区 (ā kè sÅ« dì qÅ«)

Population: 2,310,000 

Area: 132,500 square kilometers (51,159 square miles)

Nationalities: Uygur, Han

Before the Han Dynasty (206BC – 220AD) brought the region under the central government in 60 BC, several kingdoms existed in Aksu. The Protectorate of the West Region (Xiyu Douhufu) was established by the court with Aksu as its political, economic, military and cultural center. On the ancient Silk Road, Aksu became important as a connecting point for Central China with Central Asia and West Asia.

Aksu Prefecture is located in the southwest portion of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It shares a 235 kilometers-long boundary to the northwest with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. In the south, it is separated from Hotan by the Taklamakan Desert. It is about 450 kilometers northeast of Kashgar.

Physical Features:
Aksu lies at the south foot of Tianshan Mountain on the north edge of the Tarim Basin. The Tianshan Mountains are in the north while the Taklamakan Desert lies to the south.  
The region's climate is dry and chilly in the winter and arid and torrid in the summer. Temperatures vary greatly between day and night.  While there is abundant sunshine, the area gets inadequate rainfall. The average annual temperature is around 10 – 11C. September and October are the best times to visit Aksu.

Islam is the chief religion in the region. The Corban Festival on the tenth day of the twelfth month and the Ramadan Festival in the ninth month of the Islam calendar are the most important festivals during the year. Corban is also called the 'butchering' festival since it features the sacrifice of livestock. During Ramadan, Muslims avoid eating in the daytime. They usually take two meals a day—one before dawn and one after dusk.

In addition, the Qiuci Culture and Tourism Festival is celebrated from June to August. Tourists and business travelers from far and near attend to witness unique folk performances.

Special Local Products:
Agricultural output includes melons; walnuts; apples; pears and apricots. Uygur apparel featuring folk costumes; riding boots and embroidered caps and waist bands.

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