If you’re like most travelers to China’s far western Xinjiang, it’s not just the beautiful scenery that draws you to the region – it’s also the incredibly diverse ethnic cultures that are represented here.
Out of the 22 million people that inhabit Xinjiang, the Chinese government recognizes 13 major ethnic groups:
- Uyghur (10.52 million, 47.15%)
- Han (8.47 million, 37.9%)
- Kazakh (1.55 million, 6.97%)
- Hui (1.02 million, 4.58%)
- Kyrgyz (194,000 – 0.87%)
- Mongolian (180,000 – 0.8%)
- Tajik (49,000 – 0.22%)
- Xibe (43,000 – 0.19%)
- Manchu (27,000 – 0.12%)
- Uzbek (18,000 – 0.08%)
- Russian (12,000 – 0.05%)
- Daur (7,000 – 0.03%)
- Tartar (5,000 – 0.02%)
Since many of these smaller groups are either dispersed throughout the region or live in very remote parts of Xinjiang, it’s not likely you’ll run into many of the thirteen groups. With the right planning, however, it is possible to experience multiple unique ethnicities in one trip.
Cultural learning is a major part of what makes Altus Expeditions tours special. We are intimately familiar with the people here and employ local help wherever we go.
For instance, as part of our Karakoram Highway Cycling Adventure package, you’ll have an opportunity to learn about the Tajik, Kyrgyz and Uyghur cultures first-hand by entering their homes, participating in local events and sampling their cuisine.
In the photo above, you see an example of the game of Buzkashi, a traditional game on horseback throughout Central Asia that is popular among the Tajik people of Tashkorgan in Xinjiang.
We’ve had the distinct privilege of witnessing these games, local weddings, family gatherings and much more as part of our travels throughout Xinjiang. Our local contacts and experience in the region will ensure that you’ll have the best chance to be part of these unique cultures as well.