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Hexi Corridor

On the ancient Silk Road,Hexi Corridor has been the principal communications link between China,Central Asia and the West,It is bound to the south by the Qilian Mountains,whose melting snows sustained the settlements,and to the north by the vast Tenggeli and Badain Jaran deserts and the Mazong,Heli and Longshou mountain ranges.

The earliest known inhabitants of the corridor were the Wusun,ancestors of the Kazakhs and the first victims in a series of enforced migrations westward into Central Asia.The Wusun were driven out by the Rouzhi,an Indo-European tribe who,in turn,were pushed west by the Xiongnu in the second century BC.The Rouzhi King’s head was used as a drinking cup by the victors.Emperor Qin Shihuang built part of the Great Wall around this strategic area in an effort to contain the Xiongnu armies.Zhang Qian,the brave and devoted envoy of Emperor Han Wudi,was held captive in this panhandle for ten years by the Xiongnu,before escaping to continue his explorations westwards.The Han dynasty subdued the marauding Xiongnu and created four prefectures within the corridor,not only to establish a strong presence but also to declare its ambition to advance into Central Asia.The westward movement of the defeated Xiongnu eventually led in the fourth century to the rape and plunder of Europe by their descendants under Attila the Hun.The Hexi Corridor formed part of the Xixia Kingdom,which was ruled from the 11th to the early 13th centuries by the Tanguts.

The towns along the Hexi Corridor were all equipped with caravanserais to accommodate the traffic heading east to west.The 1892-kilometer rail journey from Lanzhou to Urumqi follows the path of the Silk Road through the Hexi Corridor.The corridor itself is more than 1,200 kilometers long.