The Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, the largest province in China with an area of over 1.6 million square kilometers, is located in northwestern China. With a population of over 19 million, Xinjiang is home to 47 ethnic groups, among which Uighur is the most populous one. Situated in the hinterland of Eurasian continent, Xinjiang borders eight countries, which are Russia, Kazakhstan, Kirghiziastan, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, India and Afghanistan. The geographic position of Xinjiang makes it strategically important. In history, Xinjiang served as the key part of the well-known Silk Road, while now it is an important juncture of the railway leading to the second Eurasia Continental Bridge.
Since 1949, particularly after China’s reform and opening-up in the late 1970s, Xinjiang has entered an era of rapid economic and social development. Proceeding from the state development strategy and the fundamental interests of the people of various ethnic groups, the Chinese government has paid great attention to the development and construction of Xinjiang. It has made it a basic national policy to help the frontier areas develop their economy for the common good and wealth, and timely worked out a series of strategic decisions to promote Xinjiang’s development. Xinjiang has been given priority in the national strategy launched in 2000 to develop the western regions.
Over the years, Xinjiang has made full use of its own advantages, and focused on economic restructuring and changing the modes of economic growth, infrastructure construction and environmental protection, along with improvement of people’s livelihood and basic public services. In 2011, the local GDP reached 660 billion Yuan, registering a growth of 12%.
The people of various ethnic groups in Xinjiang have created rich and vibrant cultures which have made unique contributions to the development of Chinese culture. Originating out of a pivotal region along the ancient Silk Road, local culture of Xinjiang has acquired strong regional and ethnic characteristics, featuring profound heritage, varied forms as well as rich and diverse folk arts. Xinjiang is reputed as the “Home of Singing and Dancing”.
Since ancient times, Xinjiang has always been a region with coexisting religions. The major religions in Xinjiang today are Islam, Buddhism, Christianity, Catholicism and Daoism. The Chinese government enacts a policy of freedom of religious belief, which the government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has thoroughly implemented. It protects citizens’ rights of freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law, safeguards the legitimate rights and interests of religious groups, and promotes healthy and orderly development of different religions.
Xinjiang boasts of rich and colorful tourism resources characterized by unique natural landscapes, varied climate and long history. Xinjiang owes many tourist attractions like the Tianshan Mountain, the Burning Mountain, the Heavenly Lake and the Kanas Lake. A number of historical and cultural relics like the Niya Ruin, the Loulan Site and the Kizil Thousand Buddha Grottoes are also famous around the world. In 2011, more than 30 million tourists around the world visited Xinjiang.
With the care and support of the central government, all the peoples of Xinjiang, united as one through common efforts, will ensure a brighter future for Xinjiang.