East Turkistan at a Glance

China colonized and annexed East Turkistan, also know as the land of the Eastern Turks (Tarim Basin, Junggar Basin, and Kengsu), in December 1949 when the Communist Party took over . This area encompasses present-day administrative areas of the so-called “Xinjiang,” Uyghur Autonomous region and parts of western Gansu and Qinghai Province that China invaded.

China renamed the region to “Xinjiang (New Territory),” a highly offensive term, which East Turkistanis despise. Throughout its unique history, East Turkistan has maintained a distinctive, sovereign, national and religious identity separate from China’s. Except during periods of illegal Chinese occupation, East Turkistan has also 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 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 Chinese Communist Party and its  Occupation Forces stated that the total Turkic population of East Turkistan is 13.5 million as of 2015. However, other sources estimate that the total Turkic population of East Turkistan is anywhere from 25 to 40 million  (with the majority being Uyghurs, the other Turkic populations include 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%.

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