Yining is the capital city of the Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture, and serves as the political, economic, cultural and transportation center of the Ili River Valley. There are permanent central and prefecture departments in the city, including Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, Xinjiang Mining and Smelting Bureau, and Tianxi Forestry Bureau. The city is located in the center of Ili River Valley, on the north shore of the Ili River and to the west of 312 National Highway. Yining borders Huocheng County in the west and Yining County in the east. Across the river in the south is Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County; Keguerqin mountain, a branch of the Tianshan mountain range is to the north.
Yining serves as the main window to the central and west new Asia-Europe Continental Bridge. There are nine towns, 46 administrative villages, 8 sub-district offices, and 91 community committees. Yining occupies an area of 644 square kilometer (including diary farms) with a population of 503,900 consisting of 37 ethnic groups including Uyghur, Han, Kazak, Hui, Mongol, Xibe, Uzbek and Russian. Among them are 243,232 Uyghur people, 181,116 Han people, 24,033 Kazakh people, and 36,836 Hui people, which take up 48.3 percent, 35.9 percent, 4.8 percent and 7.3 percent respectively of the total population.
Because of the Ili River, Yining is the only place that experiences a monsoon in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region that is far from the ocean. It is known variously as the "City of Flowers," "City of White Poplar Trees", "City of Apples" and "The Pearl of Central Asia". In recent years, Yining listed in "Excellent Chinese Tourist Cities", "Chinese Garden Cities", "New Top 10 Heavenly Cities in China", and "Top 10 Livable Cities in China" because of its long history, rich cultural heritage and beautiful scenery.
Geographic AdvantagesIn the Han Dynasty (202 BC -220 AD), there was an old silk road across Yining, which connected areas not only in central and west Asia, but also linked many regions in south Asia and Europe. The city used to serve as a prosperous commercial port in west China. The state council made it an open city in January 1989 and an open border city in June 1992. A national border economic cooperation zone, a materials exchange and distribution center were also established in the city. The city is the center connecting the Horgos, Doulata and Muzhaerte ports.
History and CultureYining is located in the center of the Ili River Valley. It was built in 1762 during the Qing Dynasty. Emperor Qianlong named it "Ningyuan city," which meant a remote peaceful city. Yining was one of the famous nine cities in Ili during the Qing Dynasty. Nowadays, more than 100 cultural ruins in the city are the proof of an ancient cultural city with a glorious history. As a key location on the north Silk Road, Yining used to be a cultural exchange center between the East and West. Camel caravans to countries in central Asia left many precious remains on the Silk Road over 2,000 years ago. The Han Princess Memorial Hall keeps the historical records and artifacts of Princess Xijun, the first princess sent to marry rulers of minority nationalities in the border areas in Chinese history. The peaceful living environment of 37 ethnic groups in old streets like Kazanqimin Street proves that people from different ethnic groups build their homes in Yining, the city also known as "Asia's Ethnic Museum".
Yining is a multiracial place, where people from different ethnic groups influence each other with cultural customs, as well as keep their own customs through long periods of living together. There are many cultural relics and ruins in the city, like four historical cultural blocks including Six Star Street, Ili Street, Ayidun Street, and Qianjin Street. These historical cultural blocks still retain their local traditional styles and patterns. The colorful traditional culture and customs of different ethnic groups in these blocks show the unique regional cultural features of Yining. The historical cultural blocks and buildings in the city contain abundant multi-racial characteristics, with high literary and artistic values reflecting the history of Ili urban development, architecture, and folklore.
The city has colorful folk customs and long lasting cultural relics. Because of the long combination of various life styles, customs and cultures, the city sports distinctive, stylish folk customs as well as colorful folk cultures, which makes it a unique destination for many tourists. Yining was approved as a "famous historical cultural city in an autonomous region" in July 2009, and became one of a few famous historical cultural cities in Xinjiang. Ayidun Street, Qianjin Street, and Ili block in south Yining are important examples of multi-racial settlements, and a multicultural environment. There are many traditional residential homes of Uyghur, Xibe, Uzbek and Russian styles in these blocks. The cultures and folk customs of these ethnic groups have been passed down and combined for hundreds of years.
Ecological Tourism There are many tourist attractions in the city, including the City Sea View Amusement Park and the People's Park; the Almaty Fork-Custom Garden built in a Yaodong style in the north of Shaanxi Province; the Ili National Cultural Tourist Village and Hanbinxiang orchard; Ili Museum which shows the development history of Yining; the Lin Zexu Memorial Hall; the Han Princess Memorial Hall and Cemetery of Revolutionary Martyrs. There are the Batul and Yining Hui mosque with a history of over 200 years; ski resorts; Uyghur Residential Street and the Kazanqi Folk Tourist Spot (south Yining City).
Transportation1. Yining Train Station: Yining Train Station is 5 km northwest of the city center. It's near the Yining Border Economic Cooperation Zone, and it's the largest train station on the Jinghe - Yining – Huocheng Railway, as well as the second largest and most advanced train station in Xinjiang. It takes up an area of 64,466 square meters, among which the square takes up 46,000 square meters, while the platform takes up 16,866 square meters. The total construction area is 12,380 square meters, and the height is 22.4 meters. It cost 210 million yuan to build the station. It had 806,566 travelers by the end of 2011, or more than 2,200 travelers per day.
2. Yining Airport: Yining Airport is 3.5 km from the northern suburb of the city. It's the one of oldest airports in Xinjiang, and was built in 1936. It's a 3C level civil airport that can be used for medium sized airplanes like the B737 and B757. 254 million yuan was invested in the airport for its sixth reorganization and expansion in March 2009. The expansion was aimed at sending 1.5 million travelers on 15,000 flights per year and sending 962 travelers per hour during the peak period by 2020. The new T1 Terminal of the airport was put into use in July 2011. By the end of December 2011, Yining Airport had five airlines: China Southern Airlines, Tianjin Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and Hainan Airlines.
3. Ili Bus Terminal: The terminal is located west of Ili Normal University which is on West Jiefang road, the main road in the Yining urban area. It was established and put into use in October 2004. It takes up an area of 1.8 hectares, of which the construction area of the traveler service facilities takes up 2,355 square meters with a parking lot containing 120 buses. It's the largest bus terminal with the most service functions and facilities in Ili. The terminal sends out 760 buses with 10,000 to 30,000 passengers every day. The terminal has won many titles, including the Exemplary Window to Civilized Ideological Progress in an Autonomous Region, and the Demonstration Department of Excellent Quality Control and Prestige by the State Bureau for Industrial and Commercial Administration.