Urumqi Travel Guide
Ürümqi or Ürümchi ( /uːˈruːmtʃi/; Uyghur: ئۈرۈمچی, Ürümchi?; simplified Chinese: 乌鲁木齐; pinyin: Wūlǔmùqí), formerly Dihua (Chinese: 迪化; pinyin: dǐhuà), is the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, in the northwest of the country.
With an urban population of over 2.5 million people, Ürümqi, whose name means "beautiful pasture" in the Mongolian language of the Dzungar people, is by far the largest city on China's vast Western interior. Since the 1990s Ürümqi has developed economically and now serves as a regional transport node and commercial centre.
The last stop on your westward journey along the Silk Road is Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, situated at the northern foothill of the snow-capped Tianshan Mountains.
Urumqi, meaning "fine pasture" in Mongolian, was first inhabited by a mixture of ethnic groups about 3,000 years ago. Since the northern route of the Silk Road passed through the city, it was a heavily guarded fort in the Han Dynasty, and remained so for many centuries. Today, the city itself has few historical sites to offer tourists, except for the museum of the autonomous region that houses some valuable relics unearthed along the Silk Road. An excursion to Tianchi, however, is worthwhile.
Tianchi, or "Lake of Heaven",is about 30 miles southeast of Urumqi, at an elevation of 6,435 feet above sea level. It is a beautiful highland lake, flanked by rugged pines and cypresses, and with clear waters that reflect the surrounding mountains. In winter, it provides an ideal alpine skating rink. In fact, China's winter skating games have been held there.
The largest city in the western half of the People's Republic of China, Ürümqi has earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records as the most remote city from any sea in the world. It is about 1,400 miles (2,500 km) from the nearest coastline as Ürümqi is the closest major city to the Eurasian Pole of inaccessibility, although Karamay and Altay, both in Xinjiang, are closer. The city has an area of 10,989 km². The average elevation is 800 meters.
In Ürümqi a semi-arid climate (Köppen climate classification BSk) prevails. Ürümqi experiences very large differences between summer and winter, with hot summers, with an average July temperature high of 30.1 °C (86.2 °F), and cold winters, with an average January high of -7.4 °C (18.7 °F). The annual average temperature is 7.4 °C (45.3 °F). Ürümqi is semi-arid, with its summers slightly wetter than its winters. Its annual precipitation is about 290 millimetres (11.4 in).