About 68 million hectares or 41.2 percent of Xinjiang
's total area are considered suitable for the development of agricultural, forestry and animal husbandry. Of this there are some 48 million hectares of natural grassland for grazing, 9 million hectares available for reclamation, over 4 million hectares under cultivation and 666,700 hectares of man-made pastures. Xinjiang
is one of the country's five major grazing areas. In addition there are some 4.8 million hectares of land available for forestry including 1.5 million hectares in production with reserves of some 250 million cubic meters of timber.
is home to 699 species of wild fauna, including 85 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 45 species of reptiles and 137 species of mammals. More than 4,000 species of wild flora have been identified, of which over 1,000 varieties such as bluish dogbane and Taraxacum kok-saghyz ( T. kok-saghyz Rodin ), are of significant economic value.
Among the 122 minerals that have been discovered, several are the largest reserves nationwide. These include beryllium, muscovite, natron saltpeter, pottery clay and serpentine.
Known reserves of iron ore are put at 730 million tons, while those for salt are 318 million tons, mirabilite 170 million tons and natron saltpeter over 2 million tons.
With its deposits of more than 70 non-metalic minerals, Xinjiang
is well known both at home and abroad for its muscovite, gemstones, asbestos and Khotan (Hetian) jade.
Water and energyXinjiang
has an annual runoff of some 88 billion cubic meters of surface water together with 25 billion cubic meters of exploitable groundwater. Glaciers covering 24,000 square kilometers lock away over 2,580 billion cubic meters of water.
Generous annual sunshine is in the range 2,600 to 3,400 hours.
Estimates put Xinjiang
's coal reserves at about 38 percent of the national total.
Petroleum and natural gas reserves estimated at 30 billion tons, account for more than 25 percent of the national total.
Environment and current issues
In 2003, the volume of sulfur dioxide discharged was managed down to a level of 293,000 tons, a decrease of 1.1 percent on the year before. Meanwhile the 187,000 tons of smoke discharged represented a drop of 2.1 percent.
Industrial dust saw an increase of 1.4 percent to 95,000 tons. Industrial solid wastes were up 0.3 percent at 691,000 tons. Oxygen-depleting chemical residues in waste water were up 3.5 percent at 212,000 tons.
Looking at the overall picture, every-day pollution discharges had been slightly reduced on the year before. The number of days when the state air quality standards were satisfied at first or second-grade was 5.3 percentage points higher at 63.4 percent for the year. About 17.8 percent of the days met the third-grade, a drop of 3.9 percent. The days meeting the fourth and fifth grades accounted for 18.8 percent, down 1.4 percent.
Twenty-six nature reserves have been established around the region. Seven are national-class reserves. These are: Xinjiang
Altun Mountain National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang
Bayinbulak Swan National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang
Kanas National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang
West Tianshan National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang
Ganjiahu Saxoul Forests National Nature Reserve, Xinjiang
Tomur Peak National Nature Reserve and Xinjiang
Lop Nur Wild Camel National Nature Reserve.
Nature reserves occupy an area of 204,200 square kilometers. Eight national-class ecological demonstration zones have been approved. Within these, eight experimental areas and units/workplaces have been set up.
There are 58 smoke-control zones, protecting an area of some 352 square kilometers, up by 0.2 percent on the previous year. Thirty-nine zones have satisfied the environmental noise criteria, covering an area of 315 square kilometers, up 5 percent.
According to estimates projected from a random sample of the Population
at the end of 2003, the total Population
was some 19,339,500. This was an increase of about 287,600 or 1.5 percent year on year.
Urban residents had increased in number by 3.2 percent to some 6,651,100 with the rate of urbanization up 0.6 percentage points at 34.4 percent. There were 12,688,400 rural residents up 0.7 percent.
In terms of the gender split, males made up 51.4 percent of the Population
at 9,942,400 compared with 9,397,100 females.
Birth rate was 16.0 per thousand, mortality rate was 5.2 per thousand and the natural growth rate of the Population
was 10.8 per thousand in 2003.
is one part of the world where people tend to enjoy a relatively longer life expectancy. The third national census showed that of 3,765 centenarians throughout the country as a whole, 865 resided in Xinjiang
. The International Society for Natural Medicine has designated Hetian Prefecture as one of the world's long-lived prefectures.
The largest ethnic group comprises some 7,497,700 Han people, accounting for 40.6 percent of the Population
. The remaining 10,964,900 people or 59.4 percent, represent no fewer than 47 ethnic minority groups. Thirteen of the ethnic groups have lived in Xinjiang
for centuries. These are the Uygur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongolian, Kirgiz, Tajik, Xibe, Ozbek, Manchu, Daur, Tartar and Russian peoples.
In 2003, there were some 147,600 undergraduates enrolled in 26 general universities across the region. The number from ethnic minorities had increased 6 percent to 65,100. The overall figure was up 11.6 percent on the year before and included 3.3 percent new entrants at 43,100.
There were 3,629 graduate students enrolled in 9 universities or research institutes. This was up 45.5 percent on the previous year and included 1,664 new entrants, up 50.7 percent. Among the graduate students, the number from ethnic minorities had increased 42.5 percent to 332.
The 78 Secondary Polytechnic Schools had a combined roll-call of 71,500 students, down 14.8 percent on the year before. Secondary Vocational Schools also saw their numbers drop, in this case by 10.8 percent to 45,300. However the 500 general senior secondary schools were up 15.7 percent with 315,200 enrolled students, including 126,200 new entrants, an increase of 11.3 percent. General junior secondary schools?ˉ enrollments were up by 6.3 percent at 1,133,400.
The 2,289,000 pupils enrolled in primary schools represented a drop of 2.9 percent.
School enrollments covered 98.3 percent of children of school-age. About 96.5 percent of pupils who stayed on to complete primary school progressed to junior secondary school where enrollments covered 83.8 percent of those of school-age.
The drop-out rate for students in general junior secondary schools was 3 percent and 40.9 percent of those completing moved on to enroll in general senior secondary schools.
Combined new enrollments in adult-educational colleges and universities numbered 87,800, a drop of 31.3 percent compared with the previous year. Meanwhile new student enrollments in Secondary Polytechnic Schools totaled 8,100, a decrease of 53.4 percent.
Some 35,000 people, ranging from their twenties to their fifties, shook off their illiteracy in 2003.
China's third drive to upgrade train speeds across the nation is currently in hand. Work on the Lanzhou-Xinjiang
Railway represents one of the major projects in pursuit of this aim. Construction is progressing smoothly with completion anticipated by October 1, 2004.
Railway runs more than 2,000 kilometers from Lanzhou City in Gansu
Province in the east to Alataw Pass, the westernmost point of the Chinese section of the second Eurasian Link. It is a principal artery linking China's east and west and is the only railroad running between Xinjiang
and the rest of China.
A dual-track section of the Lanzhou-Urumqi railroad is already operational and construction of the Korla-Kashi section of the Southern Xinjiang
Railroad, also a major project, is in full swing. Works to the value of 2.4 billion yuan have been completed in the westward extension of the Southern Xinjiang
railroad and the northern section of Wusu-Ala Pass railway.
Highways have now been extended to all counties and prefectures together with 99 percent of towns and villages.
A road-transportation network comprising seven national highways and 62 regional trunk highways links Urumqi at its hub with Gansu
provinces in the east, the Tibet
Autonomous Region in the south and the Central Asian countries in the west.
At the end of 2003, there were 59,900 kilometers of highway (up just 0.7 percent). However freight volumes were up 9.1 percent at 32.5 billion ton-kilometers with passenger transport up 5.0 percent at 19.5 billion person-kilometers.
Steamers and barges operate seasonal services on the Ili and Ertix rivers.
boasts the greatest number of airports and the longest air routes of all the provinces and autonomous regions of China.
Urumqi International Airport is one of China's six major airports with flights to West Asian and European countries.
Centered on Urumqi, domestic air routes radiate out to Lanzhou, Xi'an, Beijing
. Closer to home, routes within Xinjiang
itself serve Hami, Korla, Kuqa, Hetian, Kashi, Aksu, Yining, Karamay, Fuyun, and Altay.
Reconstruction and expansion is currently underway at Urumqi International Airport. At the end of 2003, its civil aviation routes totaled 116,000 kilometers (down 12.1 percent). Freight volumes were down 22 percent at 64 million ton-kilometers with passenger transport up 4.3 percent at 4.09 billion person-kilometers.