Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture was established in November 1954. It governs two prefectures, namely Tacheng and Altay, and 11 counties and cities are directly under its jurisdiction. The capital is Yining City. Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture is the only autonomous prefecture that governs prefectures, counties and cities. Ili was named after the Ili River, and was named Ili in the period of Emperor QianLong, it is known for its south-China-type scenery. Generally speaking , "Ili" refers to the areas directly under the jurisdiction of Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture (excluding Tacheng and Altay), which covers an area of 56,500 square kilometers. Ili has a total population of 2.916 million and 47 ethnic groups, of which ethnic groups account for 65%. There are the 4th and 7th divisions of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps as well as units directly under the Central Government and the Autonomous Region such as Ili Normal University and the Western Tianshan Mountain Forestry Administration stationed in the territory of Ili.
Long culture & history: Ili has had human activities as early as the Neolithic Age. It is known as the expo place of human races and ethnicities. It is a gathering place for the development of various ethnic cultures. Many ethnic groups live here, and the Eastern and Western cultures interact and merge here, and have formed a pluralistic, integrated, open and unique border ethnic culture. Since the Western Han Dynasty, Ili, as a member of the family of the Chinese nation, has witnessed many historical events such as Zhang Qian’s journey to the Western Regions as an envoy of the emperor, Tianma being imported into the the Han Dynasty, Princess Xijun and Princess Jieyou being married to Wusun, Genghis Khan’s expedition to the West, the westward migration of Xibe Camp, recapturing of Xinjaing’s territory by Zuo Zongtang, and flood being controlled by Lin Zexu. The ancient city of Huiyuan in Ili is the only existing ancient city of Qing Dynasty in Xinjiang.
Outstanding geographical advantage: In the history, Ili was the important route of the ancient Silk Road North, and today it is the bridgehead for China to open to the west. The capital Yining City is more than 700 kilometers away from Urumqi and 436 kilometers away from Alma-Ata, the former capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In Ili, there are two "special zones" established by the State in Xinjiang: Horgos Economic Development Zone and the first transnational economic cooperation zone -- China-Kazakhstan Horgos International Frontier Cooperation Center; there are also three national first-class land ports, namely Horgos, Dulata and Muzart, which are the most convenient channels for China to connect Central Asia,West Asia and Europe.
Endowed with unique resources of water, soil, light and heat energy: Ili has a vast territory, fertile land, humid climate, and abundant rainfall. The annual surface water runoff in the Ili River Basin is 16.7 billion cubic meters, the annual average temperature is 10.4 degrees Celsius, the precipitation is 321 mm, about 160 days in the year are frost-free, the sunshine per year reaches 2870 hours, and Ili has 52.1 million mu of natural grassland, 15.32 million mu of forest, and 8.87 million mu of arable land. It is an important production base of grain, oil, vegetables, fruit and livestock products in Xinjiang, and it is a breeding base for Ili horses and Xinjiang brown cattle.
Superior ecological environment: Ili has three national nature reserves and two autonomous region nature reserves, among them, Kurdnin-Kalajun is the co-nominee for the Tianshan Mountain being listed as the World Natural Heritage. Ili has 363 kinds of wild animals and more than 2000 kinds of higher wild plants, it is a rare natural gene pool of biodiversity in the world. It is not only the largest oasis in Xinjiang, but also an important ecological barrier in northwest China.
Unique resources of tourism: Ili has many historical and cultural attractions, i.e., two national 5A tourist spots and twenty-two 4A tourist spots, among them are, the famous Tianshan grassland landscape Nalat, Kalajun, Tangbula, the famous Eight Diagrams City of Tekes, the Ili General Garrison, and Kekedala, the birthplace of "the Prairie Night", which is called "Oriental Serenade" by UNESCO.