Turpan Prefecture is surrounded by the Bogda Mountains in the north, the Karawuquntag Mountains in the west, the Jueluotag Mountains in the south and the Kumtag Mountains in the southeast. The area below sea level in the Turpapn Depression is 4,050 square Kilometers, making up 8.1 percent of the total area of the depression. The area which is 100 meters below sea level is about 2,085 square kilometers, 4.1 percent of the total area of the basin.

The Turpan Depression relies mainly on the Bogda Mountains in the north and the Karawuquntag Mountains in the west for its water supply. These two mountains have favorable conditions for runoff to form, and showers in summer and the snow-melt are the main sources of

the rivers in the Turpan area and also the main sources of underground water in the Turpan Depression. The water volume of the rivers in the depression is not stable because of such sources. Floods mostly occurring in summer account for fifty to eighty percent of the total annual volume. The volume in winter and spring is very small and in order to meet the shortage, numerous underground water channels and small reservoirs have been built and well-irrigation and winter irrigation systems have been developed in recent years. Most of the rivers of the Tianshan hydrographic net seep into the ground after they flow out of the mountains and come out to the surface at the northern foot of the Flaming Mountains, flowing to the plain south of the Flaming Mountains in the form of run off or undercurrent. There are three big lakes: Aydingkol Lake, East Lake and Ila Lake.

The peculiar topography of the Turpan Depression exerts a tremendous influence on the climate here. The climate of the central part of the depression differs greatly from that of the surrounding mountainous areas. The Turpan Depression climate generally referred to is represented by that of the central area of the depression where the highest absolute temperature reaches 47 or more. The depression has more than one hundred days a year when the highest temperature reaches above 35 and thirty-five to fifty sweltering days when the highest temperature reaches above 40.The temperature of the ground surface in summer even reaches 70. But it is not as hot in the surrounding area as in the depression center. The unique topography and climatic conditions bring about the peculiarity of “strong winds, blowing, in most cases, from the northwest, occur mostly in spring and summer and particularly in the months of April to July. Baiyanghe in Toksun County and Shisanjianfang in Shanshan County are the main wind gaps of the depression. Under the strong winds, the quicksand in the central part and on the fringes of the depression drifts violently.


Turpan Prefecture has 118 industrial enterprises, thirty-nine of which are communally-owned by the people, with more than 10,000 workers and staff members. Coal and chemical production are the mainstays of the prefecture’s industry, but adding to it are machine-building, electric power, building materials, food, textile, tailoring, leather, paper-making, wine-making and canning industries. The prefecture has three thermal power plants and twenty-eight hydropower stations.


Silk Road Underground Museum Astana Ancient Tomb

The Lanzhou-Xinjiang Railway and the Southern Xinjiang Railway, which are the main arteries of communications of Xinjiang, run through the whole region. The highway mileage is about 1,183 kilometers.

Wheat and sorghum are the main grain crops in the Turpan area and the cash crops grown here include cotton, grapes, peanuts, oil-bearing crops, melons, and vegetables. Turpan has 44,667 hectares of cultivated land,, 44,333 hectares of which is irrigated. Of the total sown area, the grain-crop growing area makes up 66.8 percent and the cash-crop growing area 28.8 percent. Grape growing area is 5,933 hectares. The prefecture has 722,000 domestic animals in all, including 630,000 sheep, 20,000 cattle, 10,000 horses and 43,000 donkeys.


Turpan Prefecture has three scientific research institutions, one branch of the Central Television University, three specialized secondary schools, one technical school, forty-two ordinary secondary schools, 173 elementary schools, six kindergartens, eighty-two medical organizations, twenty-nine hospitals of which ten are county-level ones, four sanitation and anti-epidemic stations, one medicine inspection center, more than 1,400 hospital beds and 1,300 or more medical personnel. The prefecture has one professional the atrical company, one radio broadcasting station with a medium-wave relay station, two television and relay stations, 149 film projection teams, three cultural centers, three rediffusion stations and two libraries with a total collection of 173,000 books.


The Flaming Mountains

The Flaming Mountains, lying in the middle of the Turpan Depression and running from east to west, are one of the branch ranges of the Tianshan Mountains and were formed in the orogenic movements of the Himalayas fifty million years ago.

In millions of years, the natural weathering and the numerous folded belts caused by the crustal movements have formed the undulating lie and the crisscross gullies and ravines of the Flaming Mountains. Under the blazing sun, the red rock glows and hot air curls up like smoke as though it were on fire, hence its name. The mountains are ninety-eight kilometers long and nine kilometers wide. The highest peak is forty kilometers east of the city of Turpapn and 831.7 meters above sea level.

The Flaming Mountains are so hot and so dry that “flying birds even a thousand li away dare not to come.” Yet, the mountains at the same time act like a giant natural dam of the underground reservoir in the basin.

Situated on the north route of the ancient Silk Road, the Flaming Mountains have many cultural relics and often told ancient tales. The unbelievable topography, unique products, splendid cultural relics and the well-known story of the Monkey King (a leading figure in the Chinese classical novel Journey to the West who extinguished the flame with a magic fan) nave enjoyed great popularity. In recent years, the number of visitors to the mountains has been on the increase and a clamoring to go on the Flaming Mountains tour has arisen. I had wroked Turpan international travel service for 1 year before I worked in Urumqi!