Backgrounder: Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
    2009-07-06 18:44:12     Xinhua      Web Editor: Xu Leiying
 

Xinjiang in the border area of northwest China covers about 1.66 million square km, accounting for one sixth of the Chinese territory.

The region has a population of about 21 million, among whom 60 percent are ethnic minorities. There are 47 ethnic groups in Xinjiang, mainly the Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Xibe, Tajik, Ozbek, Manchu, Daur, Tatar and Russian.

The region has five autonomous prefectures for four ethnic groups -- Kazak, Hui, Kirgiz and Mongolian; six autonomous counties and 43 ethnic townships.

The GDP of Xinjiang exceeded 400 billion yuan (58.9 billion U.S. dollars) in 2008.

The major religions in Xinjiang are Islam, Buddhism (including Tibetan Buddhism), Protestantism, Catholicism and Taoism. Shamanism still has considerable influence among some ethnic groups.

Since the Han Dynasty established the Western Regions Frontier Command in Xinjiang in 60 B.C., the Chinese central governments of all historical periods exercised military and administrative jurisdiction over the region.

Since the peaceful liberation of Xinjiang September 25, 1949, the "East Turkestan" forces have never resigned themselves to their defeat. The tiny group of separatists who had fled abroad from Xinjiang collaborated with those at home, and carried out splittist and sabotage activities with the support of certain international forces.

Especially in the 1990s, influenced by religious extremism, separatism and international terrorism, part of the "East Turkistan" forces plotted and organized a number of explosions, assassinations, arsons, poisonings and assaults, seriously jeopardizing the lives, property and security of the people of various ethnic groups, and social stability in Xinjiang.

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