Turpan in Brief

Turpan, also referred to as Tulufan or Turfan, lies on the north branch of the Silk Road on the way to Urumqi, is an agricultural center producing cotton and cotton textiles, silk, wheat, grapes, dried fruit, and wine. Turpan is the chief town of the Turpan depression, which is located 180 kilometers southeast of Urumqi in the east part of Xinjiang, is one of the few places in the world that are below sea level. The depression is a long, narrow stretch of land, fifty thousand square kilometers in area, with Bogda Mountain on the north and Kurultag Mountain on the south. The depression was the center of a flourishing civilization in which Indian and Persian elements were combined. This civilization was later absorbed by the Uygurs, who had their capital there. Turpan is the hottest city in China, is a model Silk Road oasis. It is a sleepy desert town shaded by poplar trees and grape arbores, peopled by Uygurs in traditional dress and irrigated by a vast system of hand-dug underground channels that funnel the melting snow of the Heavenly Mountains into Turpan. It has been blessed with well water and, through the ingenuity of its inhabitants in ancient times, has an intricate irrigation system that allows fruit cultivation, in particular juicy melons and plump grapes.

Geographical Features
The city is one of the remotest cities on Earth -- more than 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) from the ocean -- Turpan is a charming and verdant oasis town, located in an area known for its hot climate and harsh desert terrain. It is located between 42o15 - 43o35 north latitude and 88o29 - 89o54 east longitude. The city lies in the Turpan Basin at the southern foot of the Tianshan Range in the eastern part of Xinjiang. The city is surrounded by Mt. Bogda, Mt. Karawuquntag, Mt. Jueluotag and Mt. Kumtag and Hungliu River in four directions respectively that consist of the whole area 69,700 sq km. Turpan is not only special for its low altitude, but also fir its strange climate. In summer, the temperature can reach as high as 47Co(117Fo), while on the surface of the sand dunes, it may well be 82 (180Fo). Anciently called, Land of Fire, it has recorded some of the hottest summer days in China, with temperatures as high as 130 degrees F.

The citys population is 400,000, in which 200,000 living in urban area. The major nationalities are Han, Hui and Uygur. Over half the people in Turpan are Uygurs. The sound of their central Asian language flows beautifully. Many speak no Mandarin. The Islamic conversion took place at the end of the 14th century. All the Buddhist, Manichaean and Nestorian temples and monasteries were destroyed or abandoned. Since then the entire region became Muslim and has remained so to this day.


Turpan has a rich ancient past. Many civilizations, cultures, and religions put down roots here. Under the strong Tang Dynasty ruled both China and Tarim Basin, Turfan enjoyed its golden age. After the fall of Tang in 790 A.D., it was invaded by Tibetans from the south. By the middle of the ninth century, a nomadic people from the Altai Mountains, the Uygurs ruled Turpan for next few centuries. They managed to survive the Mongol terror by cooperating with the conquerors during the 13th century. At the time of 20 BC to 200 AD, The Turpan oasis was a crucial point along the Northern Silk Road, and the cities of Ediqut, and later Astana were important and wealthy centers of power. From the ninth to the thirteenth century, a rich intellectual and artistic culture developed in Astana, resulting from a fusion between the original Indo-European inhabitants and the (pre-Islamic) Uygur. It was not until the fourteenth century that the Uygur of Turpan converted to Islam. It was called Gushi in ancient times and is the place where the State of South Cheshi and the South Cheshi Court were set up during the Han dynasty. It was established as Gaochang Prefecture where Tiandi County was set up during Liang dynasty. Founded as the State of Gaochang during the Northern Wei dynasty; renamed Xichang prefecture during the Tang dynasty until 1913, Turpan County was established.

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