Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture

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Ili Prefecture

ىله وبلىسى‎
ئىلى ئوبلاستى
Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture
ىله قازاق اۆتونومىيالى وبلىسى‎
ئىلى قازاق ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى
Gulja seat of Ili
Gulja seat of Ili
Ili Prefecture (red) in Xinjiang (orange)
Ili Prefecture (red) in Xinjiang (orange)
CountryPeople's Republic of China
Prefecture seatYining (Gulja)
 • Land56,381.52 km2 (21,769.03 sq mi)
 • inc. Altay & Tacheng268,778.71 km2 (103,776.04 sq mi)
 • Total3,009,100
 • inc. Altay & Tacheng
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
ISO 3166 codeCN-XJ-40
GDP (2014)CNY 164.0 billion
US$25.2 billion (including Altay & Tacheng)
 - per capitaCNY 34,119
US$5,249 (including Altay & Tacheng)
Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese伊犁哈萨克自治州
Traditional Chinese伊犁哈薩克自治州
Dunganese name
DunganЙили Хасакə Зыҗыҗу
RomanizationJili Xasakə Zьⱬьⱬu
Uyghur name
Uyghurئىلى قازاق ئاپتونوم ئوبلاستى
Kazakh name
Kazakhىله قازاق اۆتونومىيالى وبلىسى

Іле Қазақ аутономиялық облысы

Ile Qazaq aýtonomııalyq oblysy

Ili (also as Yili; Chinese: 伊犁哈萨克自治州; pinyin: Yīlí Hǎsàkè Zìzhìzhōu) is an autonomous prefecture for Kazak people in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, one of 5 autonomous prefectures in Xinjiang. Yining City is its capital. It is bordered by Mongolia, Russian Federation and Republic of Kazakhstan on the northeast to southwest, with a boundary line of 2,019 kilometers. Including Khorgas, Bakhty (巴克图) and Jeminay, there are 9 ports of entry at the national level. With the unique location advantage, Ili has been an important commercial hub and international channel of opening up to the west.

The autonomous prefecture covers an area of 268,591 square kilometers, accounting for 16.18% of Xinjiang's.[1] As of 2018, the household population (户籍人口) is 4,582.5 thousand; of that, minority population is 2,745.5 thousand, accounting for 59.91% of the total. In the territory of its direct-administered county-level divisions, the area is 56,622 square kilometers, accounting for 21.08% of the total. Its household population is 2,930.6 thousand, accounting for 63.95%.[2]

The Kazakh autonomous prefecture of Ili (伊犁哈萨克自治州) is a special case of administrative divisions in China, its legal status is actually an administrative division at prefecture - level. It is the only autonomous prefecture in the country that has both directly administered county-level divisions and prefectures under its jurisdiction. When the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, the 3 prefectures of Altay, Ili and Tacheng were directly under the leadership of Xinjiang provincial government. The Mongol autonomous prefecture of Bortala was found from 3 counties of Bole, Jinghe and Wenquan in Ili Prefecture (伊犁专区) in July 1954. The Kazakh autonomous prefecture of Ili had 3 prefectures of Altay, Ili and Tacheng under its administration when it was established in November 1954. The Ili Prefecture (伊犁专区) firstly cesed to be as a separate prefectue in December 1955, its county-level administrative units were directly administered by the autonomous prefecture of Ili. Since then, the Kazakh autonomous prefecture of Ili has existed as a separate administrative division. Its administrative divisions have either been reduced to the geographical scope of the former Ili Prefecture or expanded back to the territory of the former 3 prefectures. As a separate administrative unit, Ili Prefecture (伊犁地区) existed until its final dissolution in 2001.


The map of the Ili region, c. 1809. It's "upside down", i.e. the south is on top, and the west, on the right. The nine fortified towns are shown as double squares

Early history[edit]

Gold Mask Inlaid with Rubies. 3 - 7th Century. Excavated at Boma Tomb in Zhaosu County, collected by the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture Museum.

Before the advent of the Qin dynasty (221 BC – 206 BC), Ili was occupied by the Ussuns, a tributary tribe of the Huns. The Ussuns were driven away in the 6th century AD by the northern Xiongnu, who established the Turkic Khaganate in 552. Later this Khulja territory became a dependency of Dzungaria. During the Tang dynasty (618–907), the khanate became the Protectorate General to Pacify the West of the Tang Empire.

The Uyghur Khaganate, and in the 12th century the Kara-Khitai, took possession of the area in turn. Genghis Khan conquered Kulja in the 13th century, and the Mongol Khans resided in the valley of the Ili. It is supposed that the Oirats conquered it at the end of the 16th or the beginning of the 17th century.[citation needed]

Qing dynasty[edit]

The Oirats, or more precisely Dzungars, controlled both Dzungaria and the Ili Basin until 1755 as the Dzungar Khanate, when it was annexed by the Manchu-run Qing dynasty under the Qianlong Emperor. Having defeated the Dzungars in the Dzungarian and Ili Basins, as well as the Afaqi Khojas in Kashgaria, the Qing court decided to make the Ili basin the main base of their control in Xinjiang.

In the 1760s, the Qing built nine fortified towns (九城) in the Ili Basin:

Original Chinese name Chinese Turki (Uyghur) name[3] Modern name of the location[4] Notes
Huiyuan Cheng 惠远城 Kürä Shahr Huiyuan Town (惠远镇) in Huocheng County The Old Huiyuan was the residence of the General of Ili from 1765 to 1866. The New Huiyuan was the residence of the General of Ili from 1894 to 1912. Also known as New Kulja, Manchu Kulja, or Ili at the time.
Ningyuan Cheng 宁远城 Kulja (Ghulja) Yining City Also was known as Old Kulja or Taranchi Kulja. County seat of Ningyuan County (1888–1914) and Yining County (1914–1952)
Huining Cheng 惠宁城 Bayandai Bayandai Town (巴彦岱镇) within Yining City, some 10[5] to 18[6] km to the west of the Yining center city
Taleqi Cheng 塔勒奇城 Tarchi Within Huocheng County
Zhande Cheng 瞻德城 Chaghan Usu Qingshuihe Town (清水河镇) in Huocheng County
Guangren Cheng 广仁城 Ukurborosuk Lucaogou Town (芦草沟镇) in Huocheng County, NE of Qingshuihe
Gongchen Cheng 拱宸城 Khorgos Khorgas City (霍尔果斯市)
Xichun Cheng 熙春城 Khara Bulaq Area commonly referred to as Chengpanzi (城盘子) in the Hanbin Township (汉宾乡) within Yining City, a few km west of the city center
Suiding Cheng 绥定城 Ukharliq Shuiding Town (水定镇), county seat of Huocheng County since 1966 General of Ili's residence 1762–1765 and 1883–1894, when it became known as New/Manchu/Chinese Kulja. County seat of Suiding County (1888–1965) and Shuiding County (1965–1966). Renamed Shuiding in 1965.

Huiyuan Cheng, as the seat of the General of Ili, the chief commander of the Qing troops in Xinjiang, became the administrative capital of the region. It was provided with a large penal establishment and a strong garrison. This city was called New Kulja, Manhcu Kulja, Chinese Kulja, or Ili by the Russians and Westerners, to distinguish it from Nigyuan/Yining, known as Old Kulja or Taranchi Kulja.

The first General of Ili was Ming Rui. The Qing tradition, unbroken until the days of Zuo Zongtang in the 1870s, was to only appoint Manchus as officials in Xinjiang.

Tacheng (Chuguchak) was among the towns that suffered grievously during the fighting in 1865

During the insurrection of 1864 the Dungans and Taranchis of the area formed the Taranchi Sultanate. Huiyuan (Manchu Kulja) was the last Qing fortress in the Ili Valley to fall to the rebels. The insurgent Dungans massacred most of Manchu Kulja's inhabitants; Governor General Mingsioi (Ming Xü) assembled his family and staff in his mansion, and blew it up, dying under its ruins.

The sultanate led to the occupation of the Ili basin (Kulja in contemporary Western terms) by the Russians in 1871. Ten years later the territory was restored to China, and its boundary with Russia was assigned in accordance to the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1881).

After Chinese authority was restored, a new Huiyuan Town was built, some 4 km (2.5 mi) north of the old Huiyuan site.

On January 7, 1912, Yang Cuanxu [zh] of Ili occupied Huiyuan Town and shot the last Qing General of Ili, Zhi Rui [zh].

The Republic of China[edit]

In July 1945, Chingil, Bole and Quanxi (精河、博乐、温泉) of Ili were made into a new autonomous prefecture now not part of Ili: Bortala.

The People's Republic of China[edit]

As the only sub-province-level division in China, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture was established on November 29, 1954, 3 prefectures (专区) of Ili (伊利), Tacheng (塔城) and Altay (阿勒泰) were under its jurisdiction.


The autonomous prefecture of Ili is located in the hinterland of Eurasia, the northwest of Xinjiang and north of Tianshan, between the north latitude of 40 degrees 14′16″ - 49 degrees 10′45″, the east longitude of 80 degrees 09′42″ - 91 degrees 01′45″. It covers a total area of 268,591 square kilometers, accounting for 16.18% of the total area of Xinjiang. The autonomous prefecture, which is bordered on the east by Mongolia, by Aksu Prefecture, Bayingolin Autonomous Prefecture, Changji Autonomous Prefecture, Urumqi City and the provincial direct-administered county-level city of Shihezi to the south, by Bortala Autonomous Prefecture to the west, by the Republic of Kazakhstan to the northwest, by the Russian Federation to the north, the prefecture-level city of Karamay in the middle south, is located in the north west corner of China. Chongqing-Xinjiang-Europe Railway, G218, G217 National Highways, and S316 Provincial Highway pass through its territory. With a boundary line of 2,019 kilometers, including Khorgas, Bakhty (巴克图) and Jeminay, there are 9 ports of entry at the national level. With the unique location advantage, Ili has been an important commercial hub and international channel of opening up to the west.[1]

In the autonomous prefecture, there are four types of landforms, 83,632 square kilometres of mountains, 62,989 square kilometres of hills, 102,974 square kilometres of plains, 20,439 square kilometres of deserts. Three major mountain ranges of Altai, Dzungar (准噶尔山) and Tianshan with year-round ice and snow stand from north to south. Located in Burqin County, the highest Friendship Peak of the Altai Range is 4,374 meters high, the snow line is 3,000 - 3,200 meters high, the glacier area is 293.2 square kilometers, and the glacier reserves are 16.4 billion cubic meters. The peaks of Dzungar Mountains (准噶尔山) are 3,500-3,700 meters high. The snow line of Tianshan Mountains is 3,600-4,400 meters high with a glacier area of 3,139 square kilometers and its glacier reserves of 118.5 billion cubic meters.[7]

Administrative divisions[edit]

Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture is administratively divided into three parts -- Altay Prefecture and Tacheng Prefecture, together with a direct-administered region that includes Yining City, 2 other county-level cities, 7 counties, and 1 autonomous county. In the legal status itself is only a prefecture-level division, which is a special case in China's administrative divisions. It is not accurate to regard Ili Kazakh Autonomous Region as a sub-provincial division, which has no legal basis. This situation can only assume that, the autonomous prefecture enjoys partial authority in sub-provincial division. Its direct-administered region is exactly coterminous with the historical area that in the past was often called by Russians and Westerners as Kulja or Kuldja.[8]

Ili Kazahk mcp.png

     Ili Prefecture under its direct administration
     Tacheng Prefecture
     Altay Prefecture

Part Division
Name Chinese Hanyu Pinyin Uyghur (UEY) Uyghur Latin (ULY) Kazakh
(Arabic script)
Kazakh Latin alphabet Population
(2010 Census)
Area (km²) Density (/km²)
Ili Prefecture
(direct administration)
654002 Yining[9] 伊宁市 Yīníng Shì غۇلجا شەھىرى Ghulja Shehiri قۇلجا قالاسى Qulja qalasy 515,082 629 818.89
654003 Kuytun[9] 奎屯市 Kuítún Shì كۈيتۇن شەھىرى Küytun Shehiri كۇيتۇن قالاسى Kýıtyn qalasy 166,261 1,171 141.98
654004 Korgas[9] 霍尔果斯市 Huò'ěrguǒsī Shì قورغاس شەھىرى Qorghas Shehiri قالاسى قورعاس Qorǵas qalasy 85,000(?) 1,900 44.73
654021 Yining County[9] 伊宁县 Yīníng Xiàn غۇلجا ناھىيىسى Ghulja Nahiyisi قۇلجا اۋدانى Qulja aýdany 372,590 4,486 83.05
654020 Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County 察布查尔锡伯自治县 Chábùchá'ěr Xībó Zìzhìxiàn چاپچال شىبە ئاپتونوم ناھىيىسى Chapchal Shibe Aptonom Nahiyisi شاپشال سىبە اۆتونوميالى اۋدانى Shapshal Sybe avtonomıalyq aýdany 179,744 4,489 40.04
654023 Huocheng County[9] 霍城县 Huòchéng Xiàn قورغاس ناھىيىسى Qorghas Nahiyisi قورعاس اۋدانى Qorǵas aýdany 352,689 5,466 64.52
654024 Gongliu County[9] 巩留县 Gǒngliú Xiàn توققۇزتارا ناھىيىسى Toqquztara Nahiyisi توعىزتاراۋ اۋدانى Toǵyztaraý aýdany 164,860 4,124 39.97
654025 Xinyuan County[9] 新源县 Xīnyuán Xiàn كۈنەس ناھىيىسى Künes Nahiyisi كۇنەس اۋدانى Kúnes aýdany 282,718 7,583 37.28
654026 Zhaosu County[9] 昭苏县 Zhāosū Xiàn موڭغۇلكۈرە ناھىيىسى Mongghulküre Nahiyisi موڭعۇلكۇرە اۋدانى Mońǵulkúre aýdany 148,187 10,465 14.16
654027 Tekes County 特克斯县 Tèkèsī Xiàn تېكەس ناھىيىسى Tëkes Nahiyisi تەكەس اۋدانى Tekes aýdany 142,713 8,080 17.66
654028 Nilka County 尼勒克县 Nílèkè Xiàn نىلقا ناھىيىسى Nilqa Nahiyisi نىلقى اۋدانى Nylqy aýdany 157,743 10,130 15.57
Altay Prefecture 阿勒泰地区 Ālètài Dìqū ئالتاي ۋىلايىتى Altay Wilayiti التاي ايماعى Altaı aımaǵy 603,283 117,800 5.12
Tacheng Prefecture[9] 塔城地区 Tǎchéng Dìqū تارباغاتاي ۋىلايىتى Tarbaghatay Wilayiti تارباعاتاي ايماعى Tarbaǵataı aımaǵy 1,219,369 104,546 11.66
Scene from Ili valley

Ethnic groups[edit]

Ili is a multi-ethnic autonomous prefecture, there are 13 local ethnic groups of Kazakh, Han, Uyghur, Hui, Mongol, Xibe, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, Manchu, Tatar, Russ, Daur and Tajik peoples.[10] As of 2015, it had a population of 4,696,322, of which was minority population of 2,761,751, acounting for 58.81% of its total, Han people of 1,934,571, acounting for 41.19%. Among the minorities, of that, the Kazakh popolation is 1,257,003, acounting for 26.77%; Uyghurs of 819,701, acounting for 17.45%; Hui of 433,045, acounting for 9.22%; Mongols of 75,597, acounting for 1.61%; there are Xibes of 34,457, Kyrgyzs of 22,428, Uzbeks of 8,298, Daurs of 8,298, Russians of 5,394, Manchu of 5,199, Tatars of 2,852, Tajiks of 153 and others of 91,749. [11]


Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture is a famous tourist destination for its relatively humid climate, which earned its reputation as 'wetland in Central Asia'. Major tourist attractions include Narati Grassland, Guozigou and Kanas Lake. In 2015 alone, Ili has seen over 25 million travellers and earned over 19 billion CNY (US$2.92 billion) tourism receipts.[12]


Road and Railway[edit]

An extensive road network is being built across the prefecture for economic development. In 2015, 66 million passengers travelled on road.

The railway has extended to both the very north part of Altay City and the westmost city of Khorgas on the China-Kazakhstan border.

Border crossings[edit]

Ili Kazak's 8 functioning ports of entry are:


First Secretary[edit]

  1. Zhao Tianjie (赵天杰)


  1. Pätiqan Sügirbayev (Chinese: zh:帕提汗·苏古尔巴也夫; Kazakh: Фатхан (Пәтіхан) Дәлелханұлы Сүгірбаев), November 1954 – June 1955
  2. Jağda Babalıqulı (Chinese: 贾和达·巴巴里科夫; Kazakh: kk:Жағда Бабалықұлы), June 1955 – February 1957 Acting Act, from May 1958
  3. Qurmanäli Ospanulı (Chinese: zh:库尔班阿里·乌斯曼诺夫; Kazakh: kk:Құрманәлі Оспанұлы), June 1958 – September 1963
  4. Erğalï Äbilqaýırulı (Chinese: 伊尔哈里·阿不力海依尔; Kazakh: Ерғали Әбілқайырұлы), September 1963 – May 1969
  5. Zhong Liangshu (Chinese: 钟良树,[13] Kazakh: Чұң Лияң Шо), May 1969 – May 1970 (military government)
  6. Wang Zhenzhong (Chinese: 王振中,[13] Kazakh: Уаң Жын Жұң), May 1970 – July 1975 (military government)
  7. Xie Gaozhong (Chinese: 谢高忠,[13] Kazakh: Шие Гау Жұң), July 1975 – September 1975 (military government)
  8. Jänäbil Smağululı (Chinese: 贾那布尔•司马胡里; Kazakh: Жанәбіл Смағұлұлы), September 1975 – February 1978
  9. Qasımbek Seýitjanulı (Chinese: 哈生别克·赛依提江; Kazakh: Қасымбек Сейітжанұлы), March 1979 – April 1983
  10. Dïyar Qurmaşulı (Chinese: 迪牙尔·库马什; Kazakh: Дияр Құрмашұлы), April 1983 – May 1988
  11. Ashat Kerimbay (Chinese: zh:艾斯海提·克里木拜; Kazakh: Асхат Керімбайұлы), May 1988 – May 1993
  12. Bekmuxamet Musaulı (Chinese: zh:别克木哈买提·木沙 , Kazakh: Бекмұхамет Мұсаұлы), April 1993 – March 1998
  13. Alpısbaý Raxımulı (Chinese: zh:阿勒布斯拜·拉合木 , Kazakh: Алпысбай Рахымұлы), March 1998 – June 2001
  14. Nurlan Äbilmäjinulı (Chinese: zh:努尔兰·阿不都满金 , Kazakh: Нұрлан Әбілмәжінұлы), March 2002 – January 2003
  15. Qızaýjan Seýilqojaulı (Chinese: zh:柯赛江·赛力禾加, Kazakh: Қызайжан Сейілқожаұлы), March 2003 – November 2007
  16. Mäwken Seýitqamzaulı (Chinese: 毛肯·赛提哈木扎; Kazakh: Мәукен Сейітқамзаұлы), November 2007 – January 2012
  17. Mänen Zeýnelulı (Chinese: zh:马宁·再尼勒, Kazakh: Мәнен Зейнелұлы), February 2012 – January 2016
  18. Qurmaş Sırjanulı (Chinese: zh:库尔玛什·斯尔江, Kazakh: Құрмаш Сыржанұлы), from February 2016[14][15][16]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b 伊犁哈萨克自治州概况. 2014-12-02. Retrieved 2019-08-11.
  2. ^ 伊犁州2018年国民经济和社会发展统计公报. 2019-05-21. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  3. ^ As per Kim (2004), pp. 54, 229
  4. ^ Info from Chinese Wikipedia and "History". Yining County Historical Development. Archived from the original on 2007-01-06.
  5. ^ Direct distance from modern maps
  6. ^ Road distance from Lansdell (1885), p. 190
  7. ^ 伊犁哈萨克自治州地理概况与生态环境. 伊犁师范学院. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  8. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i The official spelling according to Zhōngguó dìmínglù 中国地名录 (Beijing, SinoMaps Press 中国地图出版社 1997); ISBN 7-5031-1718-4
  10. ^ 伊犁历代移民开发与世居民族的形成. zh:新疆大学学报(社会科学版)2000年1期,新疆伊犁地区史志办公室. 2004-08-17. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  11. ^ 2016年新疆统计年鉴. 2016-08-17. Retrieved 2019-08-14.
  12. ^ "National Data". Retrieved 18 April 2016.
  13. ^ a b c 伊犁哈萨克自治州地方志编纂委员会 (June 2004). 伊犁哈萨克自治州志 (in Chinese). Urumuqi: Xinjiang People's Publishing House. p. 282. ISBN 7-228-08827-1. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  15. ^ ("Ауыт Мұқибек. О, менің Іле Қазақ облысым!". Абай ақпарат порталы.)
  16. ^ (Дауылбек, ed. (2017-02-05). "Қытайдағы қазақ облсы басшыларының қысқаша өмір баяны, іле қазақ Автономиялы облысы құрылғаннан бергі облыс бастықтарының қысқаша өмір баяны" (in Kazakh). Жүңгө қазақ радио торабы.)


  • Henry Lansdell, "Russian Central Asia: Including Kuldja, Bokhara, Khiva and Merv". Full text available at Google Books; there is also a 2001 facsimile reprint of the 1885 edition, ISBN 1-4021-7762-3. (Chapters XIV-XVI describe Lansdell visit to the area in the early 1880s, soon after the Russian withdrawal). (in English)

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 44°26′59″N 84°59′09″E / 44.44972°N 84.98583°E / 44.44972; 84.98583