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¡¡The physiographical landscapes of Xinjiang have their own charms for offering a great attraction to tourists.

¡¡Desert is one of these physiographical landscapes of Xinjiang There are several deserts in the region. Each of them has its own feature. The Taklimakan Desert which has an area of 337 thousand km is a vest expanse of desert ocean and its desert landforms are rather complicated. Within the area from the lower reaches of the Tarim river up to 330km far westward, there are latitudinal chains of complex crescent dunes. Most of the dunes attain a height of more than 80m and the highest one may reach 160 m .From there further westward to the east of the Keriya river valley, they change into longitudinal chains of crescent dunes with less height. Most of the dunes have a height of about 50m, Between the Keriya River and the Hotan River lies a bedrock mountain land of denudation, the Mazartag. The local people call it ¡°Divine Mountain¡±

¡¡These crescent dune chains make up the main body of the Taklimakan Desert. The region is remarkable for its wide and desolate scenery. Hence the name of ¡°the sea of death¡±.

¡¡The Gurbantunggut Desert in the junggar Basin has an area of 48800km. Branchy sand ridges, honeycomb-like sand dunes and ridge-like dune chains are the main desert landscapes of the region. Besides small deserts can also be seen on both sides of some old river valleys in the basin. Most sand dunes and sand ridges seen in the Junggar Basin are small in size with a height of 10 to 20m.

¡¡Gobi is another type of landscape of Xinjiang. It rests on a hard soil ground surface covered by coarse sands and gravels. some sparse akali-tolerant grass and shoud can befond on its surface. They are extensively distributed at the piedmonts of the Altay Mountains, Tianshan Mountains and Kunlun Mountains. they also can be seen in some intermontane basins. The Nuoming Gobi and Jiangjun Gobi in the eastern part of the Junggar Basin, the Shisanjianfang-nanhu Gobi lying between Hami(Kumul) and Turpan and Gaxun Gobi on the south of Hami(Kumul) are rather famous for sightseeing. Deserts and gobis of Xinjiang began to attract the attention of tourists as early as several thousand years ago.

¡¡In such books as Chronicles of the Han Dynasty-Records of the Western Regions, Records of the Western World in the Tang Dynasty and Travels Marco Polo, records of the Taklimakan Desert can be found, Many famous Chinese and foreign statesmen and explorers in the past, such as Zhang Qian Ban Chao, Sven Anders Hedin and Mark Aurel Stein had extended their activities to this region. and in modern times, more tourists and people engaged in scientific research, desert investigation, archeological study and petroleum producing have come to this region. Many tourist spots and tourist routes have already tourist spots along the Hotan River and KERIVA River, the desert tourist rout along the south edge of the Taklimakan Desert, the tourist spot at Kaershu of Shache (Yarkant )County, the tourist spot at Kudake in Shanshan (Piqan)County, the tourist spot at Mingshanshan in Barkol County.

¡¡Denudation landform and wind abrasion landform which can be seen almost everywhere in the region are another type of unique physiographical landscape. Such landforms are mostly distributed in those basins where sandstone and mudstone of great thickness have been accumulated. Most of such rocks are in nearly horizontal layers with soft one intercalated with the hard one .The soft layers are easy to suffer form the erosion of running water and wind, thus resulting in the formation of queer landforms. Besides, the climate of Xinjiang is characterized by its long wind season and strong wind. Turpan, Ham(Kumul),Lop Nur ,the eastern and western parts of the Junggar Basin ,Ebinul Lake AND Dabancheng are all famous windy regions .Some cols ,such as the Alataw Pass, actually are famous wind gaps.

¡¡Such places have an average of 165 strong windy days each year with a wind velocity above 6.0m/s. The strong wind in such place like a magical sculptor carves the rock into many grotesque and fantastic shapes .Most of such places are situated in the center of deserts .They are extremely desolate and uninhabited places, where strong wind sets up wild shrieks and howls making one tremble with fear .Hence them name of ¡°Monster City ¡±.Urho windy area in the western part of the Juggar Basin, Wucaiwan in the eastern part of the Jiangjun Gobi and the Huoshaoshan in Jimsar belong to such places.

¡¡Hilly lands formed by the action of wind erosion on has rocks are another type of wind erosion landscape.

¡¡Tectonic landforms are quite developed in Xinjiang .so there are many ideal places suitable for scientific research ,tourism and teaching practice .Among them ,the tectonic landform are specially typical in Tianshan mountain land .In addition to that the multilayer mountain landform can clearly reflect the development of the regional tectonic movements, it can be clearly seen that the landforms at both piedmonts of the Tianshan Mountains entirely subject to the control of geological structure.

¡¡There are a group of recent volcanic clusters in the mountain land in the western part of the Kunlun Mountains. In 1976, a comprehensive surveying group to the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau came to this area. They reached the conclusion that the volcano in this area did go into eruption once in 1951. The lava erupted by the colcanos jointed together to form a volcanic landform of an area of 200 km2.

¡¡Xinjiang, especially the Junggar Basin, is also rich in fossils, such as the fossils of mollusk, brachiopod and Actinozoa, and their species reach more than several tens. Among them is a kind of fossil in the shape of an ancient China coin which is oblate with a round hole in the place bearing such fossil the ¡°Stone Coin Beach¡±. In the jiangjun Gobi, there are some hilly lands composed of Mesozoic of dinosaur fossils and petrified woods are well-preserved.

¡¡There are a great number of famous mountain ranges in Xinjiang, such as the Tianshan, Altay, Kunlun, Karakorum, Altun Mountains and the Pamirs. Among them, than 7000m above sea level amount to 14. Some of them have a smallers can be seen in their peaks, such as the Bogda peak (with an elevation of 6445 m) of the Tianshan Mountains, These peaks are now open to toursts and have become tourist spots and suitable places for scientific research.


Updated: 06th, January 2011

Sources from: Traveling Around Xinjiang (Book)

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