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Xinjiang (Uyghur: شىنجاڭ‎, ULY: Shinjang; Mandarin pronunciation: [ɕíntɕjɑ́ŋ]; Chinese: 新疆; pinyin: Xīnjiāng; Wade–Giles: Hsin1-chiang1; Postal map spelling: Sinkiang) is an autonomous region (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) of the People's Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million km2. Xinjiang borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region.

Xinjiang was previously known as "Xiyu" (西域), meaning "Western Area", under the Han Dynasty, which drove the Xiongnu empire out of the region in 60 BCE in an effort to secure the profitable Silk Road.[2] The name "Xinjiang", which literally means "New Territory", was given during the Qing Dynasty.[3] It is home to a number of different ethnic groups and major ethnic groups include Uyghur, Han, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz and Mongol. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan,[4] Sinkiang and East Turkestan. Xinjiang is divided into the Dzungarian Basin in the north and the Tarim Basin in the south by a mountain range. Only about 4.3% of Xinjiang's land area is fit for human habitation.[5]

With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, there have been a succession of different peoples and empires vying for control over the territory. Prior to the 21st century, the region has been ruled at various times by the Yuezhi, Xiongnu Empire, Han Dynasty, Sixteen Kingdoms of the Jin Dynasty (Former Liang, Former Qin, Later Liang, and Western Liáng), Tang Dynasty, Uyghur Khaganate, Kara-Khanid Khanate, Mongol Empire (Yuan Dynasty), Dzungar Khanate, and Manchu Qing Dynasty. Xinjiang has been, and continues to be, a focal point of ethnic tensions.[6][7]

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