Xinjiang - Geography and Geology

Geography and Geology

Xinjiang is the largest political subdivision of China—it accounts for more than one sixth of China's total territory and a quarter of its boundary length. It is split by the Tian Shan mountain range (Uyghur: تەڭرى تاغ‎, ULY: Tengri Tagh), which divides it into two large basins: the Dzungarian Basin in the north, and the Tarim Basin in the south. Much of the Tarim Basin is dominated by the Taklamakan Desert. The lowest point in Xinjiang, and in the entire PRC, is the Turpan Depression, 155 metres below sea level; its highest point is the mountain K2, 8611 metres above sea level, on the border with Pakistan. Other mountain ranges include the Pamir Mountains in the southeast, the Karakoram in the south, and the Altai Mountains in the north.

Most of Xinjiang is young geologically, having been formed from the collision of the Indian plate with the Eurasian plate, forming the Tian Shan, Kunlun Shan, and Pamir mountain ranges. Consequently, Xinjiang is a major earthquake zone. Older geological formations occur principally in the far north where the Junggar Block is geologically part of Kazakhstan, and in the east which is part of the North China Craton.

Xinjiang has within its borders the point of land remotest from the sea, the so-called Eurasian pole of inaccessibility (46°16.8′N 86°40.2′E / 46.28°N 86.67°E / 46.28; 86.67 (Eurasian pole of inaccessibility)) in the Dzoosotoyn Elisen Desert, 1,645 miles (2,647 km) from the nearest coastline (straight-line distance).

The Tian Shan mountain range marks the Xinjiang-Kyrgyzstan border at the Torugart Pass (3752 m). The Karakorum highway (KKH) links Islamabad, Pakistan with Kashgar over the Khunjerab Pass.

Rivers include the Tarim River.

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