Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China.
The ancient city of Urumqi was a major hub on the Silk Road during China’s Tang dynasty. The city further developed its reputation as a leading cultural and commercial center during Qing dynasty in 19th Century.
With an estimated population of 3.5 million in 2015, Urumqi is the largest city in China’s western interior as well as in Central Asia in terms of the population.
There has seen a huge economical development since the 1990s and currently Urumqi serves as a regional transport hub, a cultural, political and commercial centre of gravity.
Urumqi is well known among tourists as the last destination on the Silk Road, as it serves main transportation hub in the region and links the north and west Tian Shan mountain regions and Xinjiang region.
The city is rich in cultural diversity, demonstrated by the 43 ethnic groups who reside there. Among the interesting places to visit are the Russian and Muslim markets and the Heavenly Lake, a lake created amongst the mountain tops, the Red Hill, symbol of Urumqi, the Shanxibig Temple, a famous mosque, the Southern Pasture, a natural summer resort, the Xinjiang Regional Museum and the Night Market.
Urumqi is a main tourist city on China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a mega under-construction $ 54 billion economic corridor between China and Pakistan, that aims to connect Gwadar Port in southwestern Pakistan with Xinjiang in far-western China.
The project is a collection of various infrastructure and energy projects, and includes the establishment of special economic zones. In 2016, CPEC became partly operational when Chinese cargo was transported overland to Gwadar Port for onward maritime shipment to Africa and West Asia.
The CPEC passes through Skardu in Pakistan administered Kashmir. Skardu is a border town in Kashmir’s Gilgit-Baltistan region and serves as the capital of Skardu district.
Skardu is located in an area of 10 kilometres (6 miles) wide by 40 kilometres (25 miles) long Skardu Valley, at the confluence of the Indus and Shigar Rivers at an altitude of nearly 2,500 metres (8,202 feet).
The town is considered a gateway to the eight-thousanders of the nearby Karakoram Mountain range. The town is located on the Indus river, which separates the Karakoram Range from the Himalayas.