|Author:Laxman Burdak, IFS (Retd.)|
It is home to a number of ethnic groups including the Uyghur, Han, Kazakh, Tajiks, Hui, Kyrgyz, and Mongol, with a majority of the population adhering to Islam.
With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, a succession of peoples and empires has vied for control over all or parts of this territory. Before the 21st century, all or part of the region has been ruled or controlled by the Tocharians, Yuezhi, Xiongnu Empire, Xianbei state, Kushan Empire, Rouran Khaganate, Han Empire, Former Liang, Former Qin, Later Liang, Western Liáng, Rouran Khaganate, Tang Dynasty, Tibetan Empire, Uyghur Khaganate, Kara-Khitan Khanate, Mongol Empire, Yuan Dynasty, Chagatai Khanate, Moghulistan, Northern Yuan, Yarkent Khanate, Dzungar Khanate, Qing Dynasty, the Republic of China and, since 1950, the People's Republic of China.
Xinjiang was previously known as Xiyu (西域) or Qurighar / Qarbi Diyâr" (غەربىي دىيار), meaning Western Region, under the Han Dynasty, which drove the Xiongnu empire out of the region in 60 BC. This was in an effort to secure the profitable routes of the Silk Road. It was known as Huijiang (回疆), meaning "Muslim Frontier," during the Qing Dynasty before becoming the province of Xinjiang, which literally means "New Frontier" or "New Border," in the 1880s. According to the Chinese statesman Zuo Zongtang's report to the Emperor of Qing, Xingjiang means "An old frontier which returns recently".
- Susan Whitfield (2004). The Silk Road: trade, travel, war and faith. Serindia Publications. p. 27.