Tags : towns
Kashgar is the top tourist destination in China's Xinjiang Province, just over the mountains from Afghanistan. The city covers an area of 15 km². The altitude averages 1,289 m/4,282 ft. above sea level. The city is located in the western extremity of China, near the border with Tajikistan. It is also at a junction between two branches of the old Silk Road. Kashgar has been an important trading center since the days of the Silk Road, and still is today. The road from Eastern and Central China branches out to both the north and south of the Taklamakan Desert, and Kashgar is where the two branches meet again in the western part of the desert. Kashgar is home to an important Muslim community (Uyghurs). It is home to a dozen ethnic groups linked by centuries of dogged survival and Muslim faith. Government incentives have encouraged massive immigration to Xinjiang: Han Chinese now comprise about half of the province's population, a tenfold increase since 1949. Every Uighur has tales of discrimination. They are regularly banned from hotels across China and forced to stay in special guesthouses, where it's easier for authorities to monitor them. In Kashgar, they have their own neighborhoods, schools, hospitals, and restaurants. Few Uighurs learn the national language, Mandarin, and Han Chinese are baffled by the local Turkic script scrawled on handwritten signs around the Uighurs' mud-brick communities. The earliest mention of Kashgar occurs when the Chinese Han Dynasty envoy traveled the Northern Silk Road to explore lands to the west.
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