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Yarkant County

Shache (Yarkant) County or Yarkand County (lit. Cliff city; altitude 1,189 metres (3,901 ft), population 373,492 in 2003), is a county in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, People's Republic of China, located on the southern rim of the Taklamakan desert in the Tarim Basin. It is one of 11 counties administered under Kashgar Prefecture. Yarkant, usually written Yarkand in English, was the seat of an ancient Buddhist kingdom on the southern branch of the Silk Road.

The fertile oasis is fed by the Yarkand River which flows north down from the Kunlun Mountains known historically as Congling mountains (lit. 'Onion Mountains' - from the abundance of wild onions found there). The oasis now covers 3,210 square kilometres (1,240 sq mi), but was likely far more extensive before the period of desiccation began to afflict the region from the 3rd century CE onwards.

Today, Yarkant is a predominantly Uyghur settlement. The irrigated oasis farmland produces cotton, wheat, corn, fruits (especially pomegranates, pears and apricots), and walnuts. Yak and sheep graze in the highlands. Mineral deposits include petroleum, natural gas, gold, copper, lead, bauxite, granite and coal.


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