Urumqi Travel Guide

Urumqi City, Urumqi Travel GuideLocated in the heart of the Eurasian Continent, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region is the largest province in China in terms of area. Urumqi is the capital of the region. Besides being the political, cultural, and economic center of the province, Urumqi is also the communications pivot connecting the east with Xinjiang and inland China. Xinjiang is a diverse region marked by distinctive features of both spoken and written languages, music and dancing, and ethnic customs.

Geographical Features

Urumqi is an industrial and cultural center of a petroleum-rich region near the Kazak border. The city lies in a fertile oasis, about 3,015 feet (919 meters) above sea level, on the arid northern edge of the Tianshan Mountain range and south of the Zhunger Basin. The city has jurisdiction over seven zones and one county, with a total area of 12,000 square kilometers. With a semi-arid continental climate, the average annual temperature is 6.4 degrees Celsius and the average annual precipitation is 236 mm. The best tourist Season is from May to September. The coldest month is December with temperatures as low as -41.5 degrees Celsius, and the hottest Month is August with temperature as high as 40.9 degrees Celsius. The glaciers and year-round snow on the peaks of the Tianshan Mountains cover 164 square km and are called the "Solid Water Reservoir" and "Source of Life" for the municipal region.

Urumqi has plenty of natural resources in its jurisdiction. The city lies in the middle of one of China's largest coal fields - the Zhungar Coal Field - and is situated in the center of some oil fields, such as the eastern oil field of the Zhunger Basin in the north, the Karamay oil field in the west and the Tu Ha oil field in the east. Therefore, Urumqi is called the "coal ship on the oil sea" and the "city on the coal field." There are over 10 billion tons of good quality coal reserves underground. The exploitable coal seam is more than 80 meters thick. The Salt Lake is also rich in minerals, with over 100 million tons of salt and mirabilite deposits. Gypsum, oil shale, phosphorus, iron, copper, uranium, manganese and gold are all found in the region also.

The total area of fertile and cultivated land is 65,333 hectares. Forest covers an area of 900,000 hectares. Water covers about 5,333 hectares. Agriculture in Urumqi abounds with grains, oil vegetables, vegetables, melons, fruits, grapes, hops and more than 300 kinds of medicinal herbs such as snow lotus flower (suassurea), boxthorn, fritillary and asafetida. Thirty-three breeds of livestock, fowls and 10 species of fishes live here.


Urumqi is an Islamic city inhabited by a variety of people speaking various Turkic languages (Uygurs, Kazaks, Kirghiz, Hui, Tadjik and Sibo). Reflecting a long history as a stop on the caravan route from Central Asia, the population is mostly Uighur, with Chinese, Kazakh, and Kyrgyz minorities. Urumqi has a population of 1,640,000.


In ancient times, Urumqi (which means "a beautiful pastureland" in ancient Mongolian) was an important stop on the Silk Road that helped promote Sino-foreign relations through economic and cultural exchange. The city became a Uygur stronghold in the 8th century AD following periods of tenuous Chinese control during the Han (206 BC- 220AD) and Tang (618-907) dynasties. It came under Chinese control again in the 1760s as part of Eastern Turkistan, and in 1884 the city was made the capital of the newly created Sinkiang Province. Known officially by its Chinese name of Dikhua after 1763, it was renamed Urumqi in 1954 and in 1955 became the capital of the new Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Industrialization, previously hampered by isolation, accelerated after the discovery (1955) of petroleum deposits at nearby Karamay in 1955.

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