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Xinjiang Terrain:Three Mountains and Two Basins

Last updated:Nov 17,2022; By: Alice; Hits: 119

'Three mountains and two basins' is the geographic feature of Xinjiang. With the Altai Mountains on the north boundary and the Kunlun Mountains on the south boundary, the Tianshan Mountains in the middle is the natural geographical dividing line between Junggar Basin and Tarim Basin, so Xinjiang is divided into two parts - Southern Xinjiang and Northern Xinjiang.

Altai Mountains

Altai Mountains extend approximately 2,000 km in southeast-northwest direction from the Gobi to the West Siberian Plain, through China, Mongolia, Russia, and Kazakhstan. The jagged mountain ridges derive their name from the Turkic-Mongolian altan, meaning “golden.” The moutain system has three main subdivisions: the Altai proper and the Mongolian and Gobi Altai. A peak in the Altai proper, Belukha—at an elevation of 4,506 metres - is the range’s highest point. In the past these mountains were so remote.


Kunlun Mountains

In Chinese mythology, Kunlun Mountains, also called Kunlunxu, is highly appreciated as a holy mountain, where Xiwangmu, the highest ranked goddess of Taoist lives. Kunlun Mountains start at the eastern Pamir Plateau, traverses Xinjiang and Tibet, and extend to Qinghai. The mountain range is narrow in the west and wide in the east and descends from west to east. It is sparsely vegetated, and the high peaks are covered with snow and mist all year round.  


Tianshan Mountain

Tianshan Mountains, also called Tien Shan, Celestial Mountains or Heavenly Mountains, is a large system of mountain range situated in the Eurasia hinterland. Tianshan Mountain’s location makes it the furthest mountain system from the sea with widespread drought regions. As one of the Seven Mountain Systems in the world, Tian Shan Mountains stretches through four countries (China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan) with a length of 2,500 kilometers from east to west.

With its particular geological structure and stunning natural landscape, the mountain has been inscribed in the World Heritage List by the UNESCO on June 21st 2013.


Tarim Basin

Tarim Basin vast depression drained by the Tarim River in the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, western China, covering about 906,500 square km and enclosed by the Tianshan Mountains to the north, the Pamirs to the west, the Kunlun Mountains to the south, and the Altun Mountains to the east. The climate is extremely dry since the mountains block out moist air from the sea. Annual rainfall is less than 100 mm. The Salt Lake and marshland of Lop Nur lies at the eastern end of the basin. In the centre of the basin is the Takla Makan Desert, which covers an area of 342,000 square km. Several water conservation projects have been built in the Tarim Basin, including a canal that irrigates some 130 square km of farmland.


Junggar Basin

Junggar Basin is situated in the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, northwestern China. The basin is located between the Mongolian Altai Mountains, on the Sino-Mongolian border, to the north, and the Borohoro and Eren Habirga Mountains, to the south; the latter run east and west immediately to the north of the Tianshan Mountain. The basin is bounded by the Baytag Bogd and Bogda mountains to the east and southeast respectively. The basin’s western limit is defined by the Dzungarian Alatau and Tarbagatay Mountain ranges, which separate it from the Lake Balqash depression in Kazakhstan.



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