East Turkistan at a Glance
China colonized and annexed East Turkistan (Tarim Basin, Junggar Basin, and Kengsu), also know as the land of the Eastern Turks (Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, and Tatars), in December 1949 when the People’s Republic of Chin and its 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 refers to East Turkistan as “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 so-called “Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region”, consisting of the Tarim and Junggar Basin makes up the bulk of East Turkistan, consisting of 1,626,845 square kilometers (excludes “Aksai China” which is claimed by India). Kengsu (annexed into Gansu and Qinghai Provinces by Chinese forces in the 1940s) makes up 201,573 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.
Administration: Under Chinese occupation, East Turkistan has been divided into the following administrative units created by the Chinese: 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.
Population: China 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 35 to 40 million. Uyghurs are estimated to around 30 million while other non-Chinese ethnic groups in East Turkistan including Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Mongols, Salurs, Tajiks, Tatars, and Uzbeks number around 5 million. The Chinese (Han and Hui) settler population in East Turkistan is estimated to be around 12 million.
Population in Exile: There are at least 1 million East Turkistanis (mostly Uyghurs) living in diaspora communities across the globe. The largest diaspora community is in the Central Asian Republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan. There are also significant diaspora communities in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Europe, North America and Australia.
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).
Economy: 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%.