About 68 million hectares or 41.2 percent of Xinjiang's total area are considered suitable for the development of agricultural, forestry and animal husbandry. Of this there are some 48 million hectares of natural grassland for grazing, 9 million hectares available for reclamation, over 4 million hectares under cultivation and 666,700 hectares of man-made pastures. Xinjiang is one of the country's five major grazing areas. In addition there are some 4.8 million hectares of land available for forestry including 1.5 million hectares in production with reserves of some 250 million cubic meters of timber.
Xinjiang is home to 699 species of wild fauna, including 85 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 45 species of reptiles and 137 species of mammals. More than 4,000 species of wild flora have been identified, of which over 1,000 varieties such as bluish dogbane and Taraxacum kok-saghyz ( T. kok-saghyz Rodin ), are of significant economic value.
Among the 122 minerals that have been discovered, several are the largest reserves nationwide. These include beryllium, muscovite, natron saltpeter, pottery clay and serpentine.
Known reserves of iron ore are put at 730 million tons, while those for salt are 318 million tons, mirabilite 170 million tons and natron saltpeter over 2 million tons.
With its deposits of more than 70 non-metalic minerals, Xinjiang is well known both at home and abroad for its muscovite, gemstones, asbestos and Khotan (Hetian) jade.
Water and energy
Xinjiang has an annual runoff of some 88 billion cubic meters of surface water together with 25 billion cubic meters of exploitable groundwater. Glaciers covering 24,000 square kilometers lock away over 2,580 billion cubic meters of water.
Generous annual sunshine is in the range 2,600 to 3,400 hours.
Estimates put Xinjiang's coal reserves at about 38 percent of the national total.
Petroleum and natural gas reserves estimated at 30 billion tons, account for more than 25 percent of the national total.
Environment and current issues
In 2003, the volume of sulfur dioxide discharged was managed down to a level of 293,000 tons, a decrease of 1.1 percent on the year before. Meanwhile the 187,000 tons of smoke discharged represented a drop of 2.1 percent.
Industrial dust saw an increase of 1.4 percent to 95,000 tons. Industrial solid wastes were up 0.3 percent at 691,000 tons. Oxygen-depleting chemical residues in waste water were up 3.5 percent at 212,000 tons.
Looking at the overall picture, every-day pollution discharges had been slightly reduced on the year before. The number of days when the state air quality standards were satisfied at first or second-grade was 5.3 percentage points higher at 63.4 percent for the year. About 17.8 percent of the days met the third-grade, a drop of 3.9 percent. The days meeting the fourth and fifth grades accounted for 18.8 percent, down 1.4 percent.
Twenty-six nature reserves have been established around the region. Seven are national-class reserves. These are: Xinjiang Altun Mountain National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Bayinbulak Swan National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Kanas National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang West Tianshan National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Ganjiahu Saxoul Forests National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang Tomur Peak National Nature Reserve and Xinjiang Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve.
Nature reserves occupy an area of 204,200 square kilometers. Eight national-class ecological demonstration zones have been approved. Within these, eight experimental areas and units/workplaces have been set up.
There are 58 smoke-control zones, protecting an area of some 352 square kilometers, up by 0.2 percent on the previous year. Thirty-nine zones have satisfied the environmental noise criteria, covering an area of 315 square kilometers, up 5 percent.
According to estimates projected from a random sample of the population at the end of 2003, the total population of Xinjiang was some 19,339,500. This was an increase of about 287,600 or 1.5 percent year on year.
Urban residents had increased in number by 3.2 percent to some 6,651,100 with the rate of urbanization up 0.6 percentage points at 34.4 percent. There were 12,688,400 rural residents up 0.7 percent.
In terms of the gender split, males made up 51.4 percent of the population at 9,942,400 compared with 9,397,100 females.
Birth rate was 16.0 per thousand, mortality rate was 5.2 per thousand and the natural growth rate of the population was 10.8 per thousand in 2003.
Xinjiang is one part of the world where people tend to enjoy a relatively longer life expectancy. The third national census showed that of 3,765 centenarians throughout the country as a whole, 865 resided in Xinjiang. The International Society for Natural Medicine has designated Hetian Prefecture as one of the world's long-lived prefectures.
The largest ethnic group comprises some 7,497,700 Han people, accounting for 40.6 percent of the population of Xinjiang. The remaining 10,964,900 people or 59.4 percent, represent no fewer than 47 ethnic minority groups. Thirteen of the ethnic groups have lived in Xinjiang for centuries. These are the Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Tajik, Xibe, Ozbek, Manchu, Daur, Tartar and Russian peoples.
In 2003, there were some 147,600 undergraduates enrolled in 26 general universities across the region. The number from ethnic minorities had increased 6 percent to 65,100. The overall figure was up 11.6 percent on the year before and included 3.3 percent new entrants at 43,100.
There were 3,629 graduate students enrolled in 9 universities or research institutes. This was up 45.5 percent on the previous year and included 1,664 new entrants, up 50.7 percent. Among the graduate students, the number from ethnic minorities had increased 42.5 percent to 332.
The 78 Secondary Polytechnic Schools had a combined roll-call of 71,500 students, down 14.8 percent on the year before. Secondary Vocational Schools also saw their numbers drop, in this case by 10.8 percent to 45,300. However the 500 general senior secondary schools were up 15.7 percent with 315,200 enrolled students, including 126,200 new entrants, an increase of 11.3 percent. General junior secondary schools¡¯ enrollments were up by 6.3 percent at 1,133,400.
The 2,289,000 pupils enrolled in primary schools represented a drop of 2.9 percent.
School enrollments covered 98.3 percent of children of school-age. About 96.5 percent of pupils who stayed on to complete primary school progressed to junior secondary school where enrollments covered 83.8 percent of those of school-age.
The drop-out rate for students in general junior secondary schools was 3 percent and 40.9 percent of those completing moved on to enroll in general senior secondary schools.
Combined new enrollments in adult-educational colleges and universities numbered 87,800, a drop of 31.3 percent compared with the previous year. Meanwhile new student enrollments in Secondary Polytechnic Schools totaled 8,100, a decrease of 53.4 percent.
Some 35,000 people, ranging from their twenties to their fifties, shook off their illiteracy in 2003
Preliminary figures for 2003 put Xinjiang's GDP at 187.5 billion yuan.
In 2003, the value-added within primary industry was 41.3 billion yuan, up 8.2 percent on the year before.
The value-added in secondary industry was 79.6 billion yuan, up 12.3 percent. This total was split 57.1 billion yuan in the industrial sector (up 11.2 percent) and 22.5 billion in construction (up 15.0 percent).
The value-added in tertiary industry was 66.6 billion yuan (up 10.3 percent).
Average per capita GDP reached 9,686 yuan in 2003, an increase of 9.1 percent.
Total output in the Tianshan Northern Slope Economic Zone was valued at 90.2 billion yuan (up 12.2 percent) representing 51.5 percent of Xinjiang's total GDP.
In 2003, the total value of industrial output was up 11.2 percent at 57.1 billion yuan. Within this total, light industry accounted for 8.8 billion yuan (up 7.1 percent) and heavy industry 48.3 billion yuan, (up 12.0 percent).
Agriculture and fisheries
The combined output of agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry and fisheries in Xinjiang in 2003 totaled 66.164 billion yuan (up 6.3 percent).
Agriculture contributed 48.276 billion yuan to the total (up 5.2 percent), animal husbandry 16.198 billion yuan (up 8.7 percent), forestry 1.369 billion yuan (up 20.7 percent) and fisheries 321 million yuan (up 1.7 percent).
There were 1.307 million hectares in grain (down 12.5 percent) producing 8.0172 million tons (down 8.5 percent), 1.0371 million hectares in cotton (up 9.9 percent) producing 1.6 million tons (up 6.7 percent), 226,400 hectares in oil-bearing crops (up 5.3 percent) producing 501,300 tons (up 13.0 percent), 67,300 hectares in beet (down 21.1 percent) producing 3.8165 million tons (down 18.2 percent), 163,800 hectares in vegetables (down 0.2 percent) producing 7.61 million tons (up 12.8 percent), 344,200 hectares in fruit (up 17.8 percent) producing 2.1832 million tons (up 10.2 percent). Meanwhile there was a 25.1 percent increase in the area of alfalfas/lucerns at 294,100 hectares.
2003 customs statistics put the combined value of imports and exports at US$4.772 billion, an increase of 77 percent on 2002. Within the overall figure, imports accounted for US$2.230 billion (up 61 percent) and exports US$2.542 billion (up 94 percent).
Imports comprised general trade of US$725 million (up 80 percent), processing trade of US$31 million (up 8 percent) and small-scale cross-border trade of US$1.435 billion (up 34 percent).
Exports comprised general trade of US$711 million (up 31 percent), processing trade of US$202 million (up 30 percent) and small-scale cross-border trade of US$1.6 billion (up 140 percent).
2003 saw exports of electrical and mechanical products reach US$344 million (up 10 percent) and those of high-tech and new technology products reach US$28 million (up 90 percent).
Total public revenues are estimated at 26.258 billion yuan for 2003, (up 15.8 percent) with local government general budgetary receipts accounting for 12.740 billion yuan (up 15.0 percent).
The pillar industries of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are: iron and steel, petroleum exploitation, coal, power generation, nonferrous metals, mechanical engineering, chemicals, leather, textiles and sugar.
China's third drive to upgrade train speeds across the nation is currently in hand. Work on the Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway represents one of the major projects in pursuit of this aim. Construction is progressing smoothly with completion anticipated by October 1, 2004.
The Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway runs more than 2,000 kilometers from Lanzhou City in Gansu Province in the east to Alataw Pass, the westernmost point of the Chinese section of the second Eurasian Link. It is a principal artery linking China's east and west and is the only railroad running between Xinjiang and the rest of China.
A dual-track section of the Lanzhou-Urumqi railroad is already operational and construction of the Korla-Kashi section of the Southern Xinjiang Railroad, also a major project, is in full swing. Works to the value of 2.4 billion yuan have been completed in the westward extension of the Southern Xinjiang railroad and the northern section of Wusu-Ala Pass railway.
Highways have now been extended to all counties and prefectures together with 99 percent of towns and villages.
A road-transportation network comprising seven national highways and 62 regional trunk highways links Urumqi at its hub with Gansu and Qinghai provinces in the east, the Tibet Autonomous Region in the south and the Central Asian countries in the west.
At the end of 2003, there were 59,900 kilometers of highway (up just 0.7 percent). However freight volumes were up 9.1 percent at 32.5 billion ton-kilometers with passenger transport up 5.0 percent at 19.5 billion person-kilometers.
Steamers and barges operate seasonal services on the Ili and Ertix rivers.
Xinjiang boasts the greatest number of airports and the longest air routes of all the provinces and autonomous regions of China.
Urumqi International Airport is one of China's six major airports with flights to West Asian and European countries.
Centered on Urumqi, domestic air routes radiate out to Lanzhou, Xi'an, Beijing and Shanghai. Closer to home, routes within Xinjiang itself serve Hami, Korla, Kuqa, Hetian, Kashi, Aksu, Yining, Karamay, Fuyun, and Altay.
Reconstruction and expansion is currently underway at Urumqi International Airport. At the end of 2003, its civil aviation routes totaled 116,000 kilometers (down 12.1 percent). Freight volumes were down 22 percent at 64 million ton-kilometers with passenger transport up 4.3 percent at 4.09 billion person-kilometers.
The temperature in Urumqi widely ranges between day and night as it belongs to the semi-arid continental climate of middle temperate zone. The climate is extremely arid due to long period of sunlight and bare precipitation. It has shorter spring and autumn; and longer winter and summer. May to October is the golden season for traveling to Urumqi, when flowers are in full bloom and the fruits, like melons, are ripe with its fragrance. Here we should indicate that there are two hours time difference between Xinjiang and Beijing. The local working time is usually from 09:30 or 10:00. You had better not start your travel plan before 08:00 in the morning since it is still dark at that time.
In recent years, the city of Urumqi has continuously developed its economy, industry, culture as well as tourism and transportation. More choices for accommodation and dining, ranging from luxury hotels to budget hostels and from western restaurants to the local food street have been established. Nightlife in Urumqi provides multiple-range of choices such as watching the ethnic sing-and-dance show, tasting native delicacies in the night market, or simply hanging out in bars. Coming to Urumqi will not let you return to your country empty-handed. Shopping in the International Grand Bazaar is a pleasant experience. Bargain hunting for handicraft souvenirs such as rugs, carpets, Uygur-style hats, knitted sweaters, ethnic costumes, hand-made embroideries and jade carvings, will definitely draw your intense interest
Situated at the junction of routes from the valley of the Oxus, from Khokand and Samarkand, Almati, Aksu, and Khotan, the last two leading from China and Pakistan, Kashgar has been noted from very early times as a political and commercial centre.
The Kashgar oasis is where both the northern and southern routes from China around the Taklamakan Desert converge. It is also almost directly north of Tashkurgan through which traffic passed from the ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara, in what is now Pakistan, and Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan.
About 200 km (120 mi) west of the present city, just past the present border with Kyrgyztan, the main Silk Road crossed into the head of the Alai Valley from where relatively easy routes led southwest to Balkh or northwest to Ferghana. The present main road now travels northwest through the Torugart pass.
The Karakorum highway (KKH) links Islamabad, Pakistan with Kashgar over the Khunjerab Pass. Bus routes exist for passenger travel south into Pakistan.
Kyrgyzstan is also accessible from Kashgar, via the Torugart Pass and Irkeshtam Pass; as of summer 2007, daily bus service connects Kashgar with Bishkek's Western Bus Terminal
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