Taklamakan Desert

Taklamakan Desert

The Taklamakan Desert (Takelamagan Shamo, 塔克拉玛干沙漠), also known as Taklimakan, is a desert in Central Asia, in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. It is bounded by Kunlun Mountains to the south, and Pamir Mountains and Tian Shan (ancient Mount Imeon) to the west and north.

Taklamakan is known as one of the largest sandy deserts in the world [cite web
title=Taklamakan Desert
publisher=Encyclopedia Britannica
] , ranking 15th in size in a ranking of the world's largest non-polar deserts. [cite web
title=The World's Largest Desert
] It covers an area of 270,000 km² of the Tarim Basin, 1,000 km long and 400 km wide. It is crossed at its northern and at its southern edge by two branches of the Silk Road as travellers sought to avoid the arid wasteland.cite book
first=Paul G.
last= Bahn
title=The Atlas of World Geology
publisher=Checkmark Books
location=New York
pages= pp 134– 135
id= ISBN 0-8160-4051-6
] In recent years, the People's Republic of China has constructed a cross-desert highway that links the cities of Hotan (on the southern edge) and Luntai (on the northern edge).


Taklamakan is the paradigm of a cold desert. Given its relative proximity with the cold to frigid air masses in Siberia, extreme lows are recorded in wintertime, sometimes well below convert|-20|C|F|0 . During the 2008 Chinese winter storms episode the Taklamakan was reported to be for the first time covered in its entirety of a thin layer of snow reaching convert|4|cm|in in some observatories. cite news
title=China's biggest desert Taklamakan experiences record snow
date=February 1, 2008

Its extreme inland position, virtually in the very heartland of Asia and thousands of kilometres from any open body of water, accounts for the cold character of its nights even during summertime.


There is no water on the desert and it is hazardous to cross.Takla Makan means "go in and you'll never come out" [cite web
title=The Silk Roads and Eurasian Geography
] Merchant caravans on the Silk Road would stop for relief at the thriving oasis towns. [cite web
title=Spies Along the Silk Road
] The key oasis towns, watered by rainfall from the mountains, were Kashgar, Marin, Niya, Yarkand, and Khotan (Hetian) to the south, Kuqa and Turfan in the north, and Loulan and Dunhuang in the east. Now many, such as Marin and Gaochang are ruined cities in sparsely inhabited areas in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of the Peoples Republic of China.cite web
title=The Silk Road: Trade, Travel, War and Faith

The archeological treasures found in its sand buried ruins point to Tocharian, early Hellenistic, Indian and Buddhistic influences. Its treasures and dangers have been vividly described by Aurel Stein, Sven Hedin, Albert von Le Coq and Paul Pelliotcite web
title=The Silk Road
] .
Mummies, some 4000 years old, have been found in the region. They show the wide range of peoples who have passed through. Some of the mummies appear European. [cite web
title=Mysterious Mummies of China
] Later, the Taklamakan was inhabited by Turkic peoples. Starting with the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese periodically extended their control to the oasis cities of the Taklamakan in order to control the important silk route trade across Central Asia. Periods of Chinese rule were interspersed with rule by Turkic and Mongol and Tibetan peoples. The present population consists largely of Turkic, Uyghur people.

See also

*Tarim mummies
*Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves
*Kizil Caves
*Emin Minaret
*List of deserts by area
*Cities along the Silk Road
*Mount Imeon



* Jarring, Gunnar (1997). "The toponym Takla-makan", Turkic Languages, Vol. 1, p. 227-240
* Hopkirk, Peter (1980). "Foreign Devils on the Silk Road: The Search for the Lost Cities and Treasures of Chinese Central Asia". Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press. ISBN 0-87023-435-8.
* Hopkirk, Peter (1994). "The Great Game: The Struggle for Empire in Central Asia". ISBN 1-56836-022-3.
* Desert Meteorology, Thomas T. Warner, 2004, Cambridge University Press, 612 pages ISBN 0521817986

External links

* [http://depts.washington.edu/silkroad/geography/china/china.html Photos of area in China]
* [http://www.china-profile.com/maps/map_overview_2.htm Satellite Images from China ]
* [http://www.escapeartist.com/efam/50/Taklamakan_Desert.html Personal experiences]
* [http://www.meshrep.com/PicOfDay/mummies/mummies.htm Photos of mummies]

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