EXPLORE the Xinjiang Tianshan with this slideshow, check the location map and get all the facts and information below.

Xinjiang Tianshan
Xinjiang Tianshan

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Location and Values: The Xinjiang Tianshan is located in the extreme north-west of China, and includes four separate components in the eastern part of the Tianshan mountain system. The Tianshan is one of the largest temperate-zone mountain ranges in the world, lying between two major deserts (to the north and south) and stretching for 2,500 km in an East-West alignment between Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, through Kyrgyzstan and southern Kazakhstan into China’s Xinjiang province. Two other world heritage sites (Western Tianshan and Tajik National Park) are located in the western part of the range.
The four components of the Xinjiang Tianshan site are widely separated and of varying character. The largest component, Tomur, covers the highest section of the range and includes the Tianshan’s highest peak (7,443m) as well as 15 other peaks exceeding 6,000m and numerous glaciers. It includes a full range of altitudinal vegetation zones as far as the edge of the Taklamakan Desert to the south. At the far eastern end of the range the Bogda component is a relatively small area of high mountains, somewhat isolated from the rest of the range, with snow-capped mountains (to 5,445m), glaciers, alpine meadows, lakes and wetlands, and typical altitudinal zones into the forested lower slopes. In between these two components, the Kalajun-Kuerening component lies at much lower altitudes with dense forests of an endemic spruce, wild fruit trees and montane steppe while the Bayinbuluke site occupies a high inter-montane basin with extensive meadows and wetlands.

Conservation Status and Prospects. According to IUCN’s Conservation Outlook Assessment (2020) the conservation status of the Xinjiang Tianshan is ‘good, with some concerns’. The IUCN report notes that the site has strong legal protection and is generally free of any serious threats to its natural values and attributes. Livestock grazing is currently permitted within the site, but consideration is being given to stopping this, despite the consequences for local livelihoods and changes in traditional lifestyles. There is concern over the extent of local community involvement in management decisions of this nature, as well as concern over the rapid increase in visitor numbers and possible impacts of tourism infrastructure development.

Google Earth
Official UNESCO Site Details
IUCN Conservation Outlook
UNEP-WCMC Site Description
Birdlife IBA

Slideshow description

The slideshow ‘tells the story’ of the Xinjiang Tianshan with a portfolio of photos that illustrate its landscape features and some of the typical plants and animals.  It starts with some photos of the meadows and forests of the lower southern slopes of the range, followed by distant views of some high peaks and a short series of aerial photos to illustrate the scale of the mountain range in its snow-covered winter condition.  The next part of the slideshow illustrates an expedition into the highest reaches of the Tianshan, close to the border on the Kyrgyzstan side, adjacent to the Tomur component of the site.  It continues further east with some images of the steppe, meadows and forests of the Kalajun-Kuerdening component  followed by the meandering river, floodplains, wetlands and meadows of Bayinbukule.  The final few photos illustrate the higher reaches of the Bogda component with its snow-covered peaks, glaciers, lakes and conifer forests.  Throughout the slideshow, some of the typical plants and animals of the Xinjiang Tiashan are shown, including (in order of appearance): onager (Asiatic wild ass), Ili pika, Siberian ibex, snow leopard, Himalayan Griffon vulture, Himalayan brown bear, Przewalski’s horse, black-tailed gazelle, Pallas’s cat and marbled polecat.

The following Flickr photographers and other sources are acknowledged with thanks for their contributions to this slideshow (as credited in the watermark of each photo): Chen Zhao, loraineltai, TrackSterman, Eugene Kaspersky, Alastair Rae, Andrew, David Ells, Land Rover Our Planet, catnip254, lwtt93, Tim Melling, Elysium 2010, putcilinky, Feng Wei, Awais Ali Sheikh and Michael Lomax. Note that some of the close-up photos of animals are from other locations (including animals in captivity), and these are included for illustrative purposes, as representatives of the species found in the area. In some cases, these may belong to different sub-species and/or vary slightly in appearance from individuals from Xinjiang Tianshan.


Website Category:
Area: 6,068 km2

Inscribed: 2013

UNESCO Criteria:

  • Outstanding natural beauty (vii);
  • Ecological processes (ix);

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