Home of Uyghurs
Kashgar, officially known as Kashi, is an oasis city in Xinjiang, People’s Republic of China. It is one of the westernmost cities of China, near the border with Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan. With a population of over 500,000, Kashgar has served as a trading post and strategically important city on the Silk Road between China, the Middle East, and Europe for over 2,000 years. At the convergence point of widely varying cultures and empires, Kashgar has been under the rule of the Chinese, Turkic, Mongol, and Tibetan empires. The city has also been the site of a number of battles between various groups of people on the steppes. Now administered as a county-level unit of the People’s Republic of China, Kashgar is the administrative centre of Kashgar Prefecture, which has an area of 162,000 square kilometres (63,000 sq mi) and a population of approximately 4 million as of 2010. The city itself has a population of 506,640, and its urban area covers 15 km2 (5.8 sq mi), though its administrative area extends over 555 km2 (214 sq mi). The city was made into a Special Economic Zone in 2010, the only city in western China with this distinction. Kashgar also forms a terminus of the Karakoram Highway, whose reconstruction is considered a major part of the multibillion-dollar China–Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The Uyghurs, are a minority Turkic ethnic group originating from and culturally affiliated with the general region of Central and East Asia. The Uyghurs have been recognized as native to only one region, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. Advocates of Uyghur independence call it East Turkestan. They are considered to be one of China’s 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities. The Uyghurs are recognized only as a regional minority within a multicultural nation, rather than as an indigenous group. The Uyghurs have traditionally inhabited a series of oases scattered across the Taklamakan Desert comprising the Tarim Basin, a territory which has historically been controlled by many civilizations including China, the Mongols, the Tibetans and the Turkic world. The Uyghurs started to become Islamised in the tenth century and became largely Muslim by the 16th century, and Islam has since played an important role in Uyghur culture and identity. An estimated 80% of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs still live in the Tarim Basin. The rest of Xinjiang’s Uyghurs mostly live in Ürümqi, the capital city of Xinjiang UAR, which is located in the historical region of Dzungaria. The largest community of Uyghurs living in another region of China are the Uyghurs living in Taoyuan County, in north-central Hunan.