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Xinjiang Province

Xinjiang

  1. Basic Figures
  1. Name: the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
  2. Areas: 1.6604 million square kilometers
  3. Population: 17.18 million
  4. Capital: Urumqi City
  5. Geography: Xinjiang is situated in the northeast border area of China. It neighbors Mongolia, Russia Federation, Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and other countries. In China, it adjoins Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu and other provinces. Its geographical position is at 73゜41’-96゜18’ East Longitude and 34゜25’-49゜ North Latitude. Xinjiang is far from the sea on all sides with typical continental climate.
  6. Natural Resources: Xinjiang is sparsely populated with rich resources.(1)Xinjiang covers one-sixth of the total area of China. It is a region with the largest land area of all the provinces and autonomous regions in China. It possesses 57.26 million hectares of grassland, among which, 48.01 million hectares can be utilized. Its total area of grassland ranks second in China. (2) The resource of water is rich in Xinjiang. There are over 570 big and small rivers. The amount of occupation of water per capita there is higher than national average level. (3) Xinjiang is extremely rich in biological resources. There are many preserved rare and precious types and genera. There are about 3,000 types of higher plants, making up 10% of the total in China. (4) Xinjiang is rich in mineral resources. There are relatively complete kinds of minerals. The already discovered 122 kinds of minerals make up 80% of the whole country, among which, 67 kinds of the deposits have already been proven, about half of the country, and the deposits of 8 kinds of minerals rank first in China. (5) The reserve of energy resources in Xinjiang is relatively rich. The major two are coal and oil. (6) Xinjiang is rich in tourist resources. It is a place of great interest for visitors both from China and other countries of the world.
  7. Economy: The gross domestic product (GDP) of Xinjiang in 1997 was 105 billion yuan, the total value of industrial and agricultural products 134.3 billion yuan, and gross national product (GNP) per capita 5,904 yuan; domestic volume of trade 31.042 billion yuan; gross volume of import and export US$ 1.447 billion; gross financial income 13.535 billion yuan; and grain output 8.2534 million ton. At present, Xinjiang’s economy functioning presents a good situation of “high increase and low inflation”. There are bumper harvest in agriculture and rapid increase in industrial production. Investment, consumption and export maintain a certain degree of increase. The financial and monetary situation keeps regular and the rising of commodity prices continues to fall. But at the same time with economy development, there appear problems that can not be ignored. The basis for further economic development is not stable yet; the pace for structure adjustment is still slow; the production management of state-owned enterprises is difficult; and total situation of the economic effect is still not ideal.
  8. People’s life: According to the statistics by the end of 1997, there were 7.154 million employees in Xinjiang, making up 41.64% of its total population. The annual discretionary income per capita of the urban residents was 4,859 yuan and the pure income per capita of the farmers was 1,500 yuan. The actual living standard of the rural-urban residents was further increased and their housing conditions were continuously improved. In the entire autonomous region, consumers’ expenditure per capita of the urban residents was 1,359 yuan. The dwelling space per capita for the urban and rural residents was 13.3 square meters and 16.13 square meters respectively. The average number of doctors per 10,000 persons was 25 and that of hospital beds per 10,000 persons was 41.7.
  9. Education. According to the statistics by the end of 1997, in Xinjiang there were 18 colleges and universities with the enrollment of 45,696 students and 7,837 teachers; 2,090 secondary schools with an enrollment of 104,980 students and 84,059 teachers; and 6,962 primary schools with 2,419,700 students and 119,184 teachers. Xinjiang’s educational undertakings continue to develop; basic education is continuously strengthened and various adult education further developed.
  10. National Composition. Xinjiang is a national autonomous region where many nationalities live in compact communities. It is not only composed of many nationalities, but the proportion of national population is also very high. Over 90% of the population in 6 nationalities out of the 56 nationalities in China live in Xinjiang. When Xinjiang autonomous region was set up, 13 existing nationalities were confirmed. With the migration and moving, the number of nationalities keeps increasing. By the time of the national census in 1990, the number of nationalities in Xinjiang increased to 49. The population of Han nationality makes up 37.50% of the total population in Xinjiang. The population of minority nationalities was increased from 4.0424 million in 1949 to 9.4616 million in 1990. Annual increase rate was 2.10%.
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  1. Population Situation
  1. Size and Distribution

In 1997, Xinjiang’s population was 17.1808 million (In the 1990 national census, its population was 15.1569 million.) Its population density was low, one of the provinces and autonomous regions with lower population density in China. Data in the fourth national census showed that, Xinjiang was one of the provinces and autonomous regions with the lowest population density in China – 9 persons per square kilometers on the average. There is great difference between the density of population distribution in Xinjiang. About 95% of its population are mainly distributed on the oasis which makes up 3.5% of the total area of Xinjiang. Population density in these areas is as high as 207 persons per square kilometers. Population is unevenly distributed. (1) The area suitable for people to live within Xinjiang is very limited. In Xinjiang, there are only about 70,700 square kilometers of oasis (4.2% of the total area of Xinjiang). However, over 90% of its total population live on these oasis. Its population density calculated by actual residential areas is close to that of the coastal areas. (2) The population distribution in each area is different. (3) The area distribution between nationalities is quite obvious. The areas distributed with multi-nationalities also show the characteristics of a multi-national area, and at the same time more prominently show that of an area inhabited by minority nationalities in compact community.

2. Population History

Changes of the population development in Xinjiang during the past scores of years from 1949 to the present can be generally divided into the following 4 stages. The first stage was the developing period from 1949 to 1958. Xinjiang’s population increased from 4.3334 million to 5.8235 million with an annual increase of 3.34%. The second was from 1958 to 1962 with an increase of 4.67%. The third stage was from 1962 to 1978 with an annual increase of 3.61% and the fourth stage was from 1978 to the present, a period with slow population increase. Generally speaking, the total population of Xinjiang increased from 4.334 million in 1949 to 17.1808 million in 1997 with a total increase of 3 times.

3. Population Structure by Sex and Age

In 1949, the sex ratio was 107.49, in 1953 110.21 and increased to the top of 123.23 in 1960. After that, it gradually declined and then basically remained at 104-106. The sex ratio in Xinjiang was 106.67 in 1990 when the fourth national census took place and 103.47 in 1997.

According to the data from the population sampling survey in 1997, the population of children in Xinjiang aged 0-14 made up 30.25% of the total population. The working age group aged 15-64 made up 64.96%. The elderly aged 65 and above made up 4.56%. The population age structure had entirely entered into the type of stable population and is going toward the type of old population. The total population dependency ratio is 53.41%, 46.41 for children and 7.00% for the elderly.

4. Fertility level and Changes

The population development in Xinjiang has experienced several stages since 1949. In the 1950s, its fertility rate kept at a relatively high level with an annual fertility rate above 30‰. There was a large range of fluctuations in the 1960s. Firstly, during the period of the three difficult years in the early 1960s, fertility rate dropped dramatically, to 25.16‰ in 1961. With the recovery of economy, fertility rate began to upswing rapidly and in 1964 reached the highest level of 42.26‰ in history. During the period between 1962 to 1975, the fertility rate was fluctuating at a high level. The annual fertility rate reached as high as 37.24‰. After that, the fertility rate declined rapidly and basically kept at about 25‰ after entering the 1980s. Take a general view of the changes of fertility rate after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, people can see that, before the 1980s, the fertility rate in Xinjinag kept rising and falling at a high level. After the 1980s, the fertility rate kept stable at a relatively low level, fluctuating between 21-25‰. After entering the 1990s, influenced by the increased number of women at childbearing age, the fertility rate presented a small range of upswing. But during recent years, it declined to below 20‰. The fertility rate in Xinjiang in 1997 was 19.66‰.

5. Mortality and Level Expectancy

Since its liberation in 1949, the mortality rate of Xinjiang presents a trend of continuous declining, from 20.28‰ in 1949 down to 6.55‰ in 1997. During the whole period, except that because of the significant economic difficulty from 1959 to 1964 the mortality rate increased largely and kept at a relatively high level, the mortality rate in the other years kept continuously declining with a little fluctuation.

Before 1949, life expectancy in Xinjiang was very low, less than 30 years. After the founding of New China, along with the rapid increase of people’s living standard and their general health level, mortality rate declined continuously and life expectancy increased by a big margin. The life expectancy was 60 years at the third national census. At the fourth national census, the life expectancy was 65.71 years, 64.89 years for men and 66.68 years for women, much lower than the national level.

6. Marriage Status and Family Size and Type

During the 1990 national census, the population aged 15 years and above in Xinjiang was 10.1472 million, among which, the unmarried was 2.8832 million, 28.41% of the total. Most of them were senior middle school graduates. The married population was 6.5248 million, making up 65.30%, among which, the proportion of men was obviously lower than women, the same with the low age group, and the proportion in the urban areas lower than in the rural areas. The divorce population was 286,200, 2.82% of the population aged 15 and above. It was one of the provinces and autonomous regions with the highest proportion of divorce population in China. Among the divorce population, there were more male than female. Along with the years of educational attainment, the widowhood ratio and divorce ratio gradually declined. The widowhood rate was the highest for the population of illiterate and semi-literate. There was obvious difference between areas for the marital composition. Among the 12.173 million people aged 15 years and above in Xinjiang in 1997, 6.19 million were male and 5.983 million female, among which, there were 1.816 million unmarried male and 1.294 million unmarried female; 3.423 million male and 3.555 million female at first marriage; 646,000 remarried male and 578,000 remarried female; 163,000 divorced male and 169,000 divorced female; and 142,000 widowed male and 378,000 widowed female.

7. Aging of Population

The materials relative intact about the elderly in Xinjiang started with the national census in 1953. The old population aged 60 and above was then 314,000 and by the time of the national census in 1990, it increased to 944,600. During the last 10 years or so, proportion of the old population has been lower than the national mean value, which was due to the following reasons. (1) Family planning programme started earlier in other areas than in Xinjiang, so the declining scope of fertility rate was larger than Xinjiang and the time to decline was earlier than Xinjiang. (2) The mortality level of Xinjiang’s population, especially the infant mortality rate was higher than the national level and the life expectancy was also lower than the national level. There was great difference of degree of population aging between various minority nationalities in Xinjiang. The level of aging of the Han nationality was lower than that of the minority nationalities. But it changed very fast. The level of aging was higher in the cities than in the rural areas. According to the 1997 data of aging in Xinjiang, the population aged 65 and above was 796,000, accounting 4.56% of its total population. Among the elderly in Xinjiang, the population of unmarried was very low and the cultural composition was lower than that of the total population. Population of the illiterate and semi-literate accounted for 71.02% of the elderly and total elderly employees accounted for 7.05% of the total employees in Xinjiang.

8. Population Quality

In history, Xinjiang has always been one of the provinces and autonomous regions with the lowest cultural quality of population. At the time of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the illiterate and semi-literate made up over 95% of its total population. For the past 40 years and more, the Party and the government have always attached great attention to the economic and cultural construction of the border areas inhabited by minority nationalities and the cultural quality of the minority nationalities in Xinjiang has already taken a quantitative leap.

In the early years after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the average educational level for the population aged 6 and above in Xinjiang was less than grade one of primary school. But by the year 1990, the average number of educational years for the population age 6 and above in Xinjiang was 6.52 years, among which, the average education level of the literate population aged 6 and above was higher than the level of grade two of junior middle school with an average number of educational years of 8.04 years. The focus of literate population in Xinjiang has gradually transferred from educational level of primary school to that of junior and senior middle school. However, the population with a cultural level of primary school is still more than half of the total population. Besides, though the number of intellectuals with an educational level of college and university increases very fast during recent years, the proportion it makes up is still very low. Compared with the provinces and autonomous regions with advanced economic development in China, there is still a certain gap.

With the deepening of the transform and open policy, the cultural and educational undertakings in Xinjiang have greatly developed and those for the minority nationalities in Xinjiang have also changed dramatically. In 1990, the population of the minority nationalities aged 6 and above in Xinjiang was 7.7654 million, accounting for 82.07% of the total population of the minority nationalities. Among them, the population of the minority nationalities with an educational level of primary school and above was 5.9359 million, accounting for 76.44% of the population of the minority nationalities of the same age group, which was lower than the average level of 81.08% in Xinjiang. Among the minority nationalities aged 15 and above, the population of illiterate and semi-literate was 1.412 million, accounting for 24.68% of the minority nationalities of the same age group. The number of minority nationalities with an educational level of college/university was 90,100, 2.32 times higher than in 1982. In 1997, the number of school students of the minority nationalities in Xinjiang was 21,517 college students, 617,750 secondary school students and 1.7043 million primary school students.

9. Migration and Population Floating

Xinjiang’s population moved in and out in large numbers with unbalanced regional distribution. According to the data of the registration statistics of the departments of public security, in 1997, the total in-migrants were 253,000, among which, inter-regional in-migrants were 109,000 and inter-regional out-migrants 52,200. There were respective characteristics concerning population migration in different areas. (1) In the area where the social environment was stable and the economy developed steadily, the number of in-migrants increased annually. (2) As some regiments of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps started a new movement to open up the uncultivated land which absorbed a large number of manpower, the number of in-migrants kept at a high level. (3) The social stability and economic prosperity was an important factor bringing about the migration of population. The total amount of the transient population (floating population) was 915,200, the majority of whom were male with a sex ratio of 296.36. In analyzing the source places of the floating population, 34.27% was intra-provincial migrants, 65.47% inter-provincial and 0.26% international. The major purpose of the floating population was to gain economic benefits. Those who engaged in industry, farming, business, services and so on accounted for 70.26% of the total floating population. The other purposes were to go on business, tourism, seeking refuge with and visiting relatives and friends.

11. Population, Resource and Environment

Xinjiang is a region with large quantities of resources. Because of its vast land with rich resources, the natural resources there are relatively rich and generous. The per capita resource amount there is the highest in China. But as the population in Xinjiang increased too fast, some resources are in short now. It is better to integrate the population control with protection of natural resources in Xinjiang. When the population increase is strictly controlled, special attention should also be paid to treasure and protect resources, increase the contents of science and technology in developing the resources and raise the effects in using the resources.

China Population Information and Research Center (CPIRC)

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