SHERQI TÜRKISTAN JUMHURIYITI SÜRGÜNDIKI HOKUMITI
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The People and Culture
The indigenous peoples of East Turkistan are mainly Turkic. Uighurs represent the largest population group by far, but about a million Kazakhs and thousands of Kirghiz, Uzbeks, and Tatars are also to be found. A small number of Iranian speaking Tajiks live in eastern Turkistan as well.
Since reasserting control of East Turkistan in 1949 (see below), Beijing has transported millions of Han Chinese to the province.
The population of East Turkistan is unclear. China claims that 22 million people live there, 10 million of them Han. Other sources place the total far higher -- perhaps more than 35 million inhabitants.
While the Han speak Chinese, overwhelmingly the people of East Turkistan speak Turkic languages -- Uighur Turkic, Kazakh Turkic, and so forth -- which are closely linked with one to the other. These and other languages, including Turkic itself, are branches of the ancient Altaic language family.
The region’s Turkic majority is Islam, reflecting a conversion that occurred a thousand years ago. The People’s Republic of China has sought to suppress the practice of Islam, closing thousands of mosques and religious schools.
Every aspect of the life of East Turkistanis is different from that of Chinese: clothing, marriage ceremonies, funerals, sports, music, theater, dancing, and more. While China seeks to gloss over these differences, they are clear to anyone who visits the province.
Right: A 3,800 years old mummy of East Turkistan. History