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Dzungaria

Dzungaria (zŏn-gârˈēə) [key] or Junggar jŏngˈgärˈ, physical region (c.300,000 sq mi/777,000 sq km) of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, NW China. It is a largely steppe and semidesert basin surrounded by high mountains (the Tian Shan in the south and the Altai in the north). Wheat, barley, oats, and sugar beets are grown, and cattle, sheep, and horses are raised. The fields are irrigated with melted snow from the permanently white-capped mountains. Ürümqi (Urumchi) and Yining (Kuldja) are the main cities; other smaller oasis towns dot the piedmont areas. The population consists of Uigurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, Mongols, and Chinese; since 1953 there has been a massive influx of Chinese to work on water conservation and industrial projects. The Dzungaria has deposits of coal, iron, and gold, as well as large oil fields. Dzungaria (named for the Dzungar, one of the Mongol tribes) was ruled by a confederation of Western Mongols that established (17th cent.) a large empire in central Asia. The region passed to the Chinese in the mid-18th cent. The Dzungarian Alatau is a mountain chain that lies on the boundary of Xinjiang and Kazakhstan (see Alatau). At the eastern end of the chain, on the Kazakhstan-Chinese border, lies the Dzungarian Gate, a pass which for centuries was used as an invasion route by conquerors from central Asia. The name also appears as Jungaria, Sungaria, or Zungaria.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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