Ürümqi or Urumchi (both: ōrōmˈchē) [key], city (1994 est. pop. 1,130,300), capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, NW China, in the Dzungarian basin. Ürümqi is an administrative and commercial center at the junction of several historical caravan routes from Central Asia, Lanzhou (Gansu prov.), and Kashi (Kashgar), and it remains a market and transshipment center for China's trade with Central Asia and Russia. It is linked to the Chinese rail network via Lanzhou. The main industrial center of Xinjiang, Ürümqi has benefited from the discovery of large petroleum deposits at Karamay. It has oil refineries, iron- and steelworks, textile mills, and plants manufacturing motor vehicles, agricultural machinery, chemicals, machine tools, and cement. Coal, tin, and silver mines are nearby. The population is mostly Uigur with minorities of Manchus, Chinese, and Kazakhs. Chinese influence began about 122 B.C. when Emperor Wu Ti of the Han dynasty conquered E Xinjiang. Ürümqi is the seat of Xinjiang Univ.; there is also a medical college, several technical institutes, and a museum with a rare collection of mummies. The city was called Dihua (Tihwa) until 1954.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.