East Turkistan


East Turkistan at a Glance

The term EAST TURKISTAN here means the whole of East Turkistan known as the land of the Eastern Turks (Tarim Basin, Junggar Basin, and Kengsu). It includes the present-day administrative areas of the so-called “Xinjiang”* Uyghur Autonomous Region and parts of western Gansu and Qinghai Province that were annexed by China during the 1940s.

*The Chinese colonial term “Xinjiang” meaning ‘The New Territory’ or ‘New Frontier’ was imposed by the Chinese occupational forces in reference to East Turkistan. The derogatory Chinese colonial term is highly offensive and strongly hated by the people of East Turkistan.  Eastern Turkistan has maintained throughout its history a distinctive and sovereign national, cultural, and religious identity separate from that of China and, except during periods of illegal Chinese occupation, has maintained a separate and sovereign political and territorial identity.

Land Size:

1,828,418 square kilometers, which includes the Tarim Basin, Junggar Basin, and Kengsu.  The “Uyghur Autonomous Region”, consisting of the Tarim and Junggar Basin makes up the bulk of East Turkistan, consisting of 1,664,845 square kilometers. Kengsu (annexed into Gansu and Qinghai Provinces by Chinese forces in the 1940s) makes up 163, 573 square kilometers. Roughly 2.65 times the size of the US State of Texas, 3 times the size of France, and equivalent to the size of Sudan (North Sudan)

Political Status:

Occupied country (since December 22, 1949) and without United Nations’ Representation.


Under Chinese rule, East Turkistan is divided into the following administrative units: a) Uyghur Autonomous Region, b) Subei Mongol Autonomous County,  Aksai Kazakh Autonomous County,  Dunhuang (Dukhan) City, and Guazhou County in Gansu Province, c) Lenghu Administrative Zone, and the western portion of Magnai Administrative Zone in Qinghai Province.


The total Turkic population of East Turkistan is around 35 million (with over 30 million Uyghurs, and the rest are of other Turkic populations such as the Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Tatars).

Major Rivers:

Tarim, Ertish (Irtysh in Kazakhstan and Russia), Illi, Konchi (Kaidu), Ulungur (Bulgan in Mongilia), Qaraqash, Yarkand (also known as Zarafshan), and Manas.

Native Wildlife:

Caspian tiger (now extinct), Eurasian lynx, Snow leopard, Eurasian gray wolf, sable, wolverine, Prezwalski’s horse,  Altai wapiti (elk), Tengri Tagh wapiti (elk),  Bactrian deer, Yarkand deer, Central Asian red deer, Saiga antelope, Marco Polo Sheep, Yak, Bactrian camel, Eurasian beaver, Eurasian red squirrel, Dzungarian hamster, Yarkand hare, Eurasian water vole, Eurasian spoonbill, Central Asian salamander,  Big-head schizothoracin, and the Lenok (Asiatic trout).


Agriculture, animal husbandry, light industry, and trade.

Natural Resources:

Land, biological resources, petroleum, natural gas,  gold, silver, coal, uranium, copper, nickel, lead, zinc, asbestos, sylvite, limestone, gems, and jade. 

Literacy Rate:

90% prior to removal of native Turkic (Uyghur, Kazakh, Kyrgyz) language classes. It is now estimated to be around 40%.