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Nearly three times the size of France, and taking up around one sixth of China’s total area, Xinjiang is a vast expanse of harsh desert, broken up sporadically by small cities, towns and industrial settlements. Once the first leg of the Silk Road, an ancient trading route that stretched from China, through Central Asia and into Europe, it has long been a place of important material and cultural exchange. Annexed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949, it resultantly became an autonomous region. Though occupied by a range of minority ethnic groups, it is predominantly home to Uyghurs, who are Turkic Muslim people that make up 45% of the population and are generally considered indigenous to the land.

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Source: It’s Nice That