SHERQI TÜRKISTAN JUMHURIYITI SÜRGÜNDIKI HOKUMITI
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Chinese have come to call the land Xinjiang which means "the new territory" or "the new frontier." It was a name applied in 1884 when the Chinese Imperial government formally annexed what had for centuries been known as "Sharqi Turkistan" -- "The Land of the East Turks" that remained free and independent for centuries at the middle of Central Asia.
Located in Central Asia, 1500 miles from Beijing, East Turkistan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Mongolia to the northeast, and Kirghizstan and Tajikistan to the northwest and west. To the west and southwest lie Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to the south are Tibet and India. To the east lies China. Map of Turkistan.
East Turkistan is a vast land of 640,000 square miles -- one sixth the total of all China. Geographically, it is China’s largest province.
Mountains ring most of the land. To the north and northeast lie the Altay Mountains. The Tarbaghatay Mountains are in the northwest, forming part of the border with the former Soviet Republics. To the south are the Tibetan ranges: the Pamirs, the Karakorams, and the Karanghu (Kunlun) Mountains. To the east are the Altun Mountains which complete the circle.
Only a few natural corridors pierce this wall of mountains. The Gansu corridor links the province to China proper, through the Gobi Desert. While Beijing has sought to strengthen that link, mountain passes to the north and west provide far easier access to the outside world -- a fact which has shaped commerce, culture and history through the centuries.
Still another range of mountains, the Tangri Taghliri (Tian-shan), runs east to west across the province forming two basins: the Dzungharian Plain to the north and the much larger Tarim Basin to the south. Each basin has its own desert, but by far the largest desert -- the Taklamakan ---- is to be found in the extremely arid Tarim Basin. It is the largest desert in all China.
The extent of the deserts in East Turkistan is the most dramatic demonstration of the dryness of the climate. Far from any ocean, East Turkistan receives little rain. Its winters are cold and summers hot. Sandstorms are frequent. But for the rivers, fed by melting snow found on the surrounding mountains, much of East Turkistan would be completely unlivable.
To meet an East Turkistani is to know instantly that those who live in Sharqi Turkistan are not Chinese. While they suffer under the rule of what can perhaps be seen as the last great empire on Earth, East Turkistanis yearn for the day when they can once again guide the course of their own nation.
As its traditional name implies, East Turkistan is a Turkic country populated primarily by Muslims who can trace their history back to at least the 7th century. Culturally, linguistically, even economically, East Turkistan is tied far more closely to nations which lie to its north and west than to its current overlord, China. Natural resources...