Takla Makan Desert

Takla Makan Desert is China's largest desert, situated in the middle of the largest Basin, Tarim in Xinjiang Province. This is reputed to be the world's second largest shifting-sand desert covering an area of over 33, 700 square kilometers (over 13 square miles).

Takla Makan DesertTakla Makan Desert

In Uighur language, Takla Makan means 'you can get into it but can never get out' and the desert has another name 'the Sea of Death'. The Takla Makan Desert is regarded as very powerful among people. But there was an interesting legend about the origin of the desert. It was said that there was a Supernatural Being, who saw the hardship being faced by the people in this area and thought that he could help them by using the two magic objects in his possession namely the golden axe and the golden key. He gave his golden axe to the Kazakh, so they split the mountain Altai and diverted water from the mountains to the fields. The Supernatural Being planned to give the golden key to the Uighur so that they could open the door of the treasure-house of the Tarim Basin, but unfortunately his youngest daughter lost the key. This angered him so much that he held her a captive in the Tarim Basin and thus the Takla Makan Desert was formed.

Continuous sand dunes in this large Takla Makan Desert are usually over 100 meters high (over 109 yards) and some are even higher than 300 meters (about 328 yards). Because of the wind, the sand dunes are always moving forward and statistics suggests that each year they move about 150 meters (about 164 yards), which seriously threatens the existence of oasis and the survival of the local populace. For the past 50 years, the Chinese Government has made great effort to plant trees to reduce the encroachments of the sandstorms. With the help of experts, local people planted diversiform-leaved poplars, rose-willows, pomegranate trees, mulberries and built windbreak belts as corrective measures and in some places, people even cultivate corn. There is an improvement in the living condition of the local people, thanks to the increase in vegetation. Now there are over 80 species of birds' resident in the interior desert and the precipitation is increasing as well.

The Takla Makan Desert is also rich in natural resources, buried under it vast expanse are resources such as groundwater, oil and oil gas. During the oilfields' opening up, people encountered the problems of transportation. Thus the idea of building a highway came to people's mind. In the year 1995, a desert-road of 522 kilometers (more than 324 miles) was completed and opened to traffic. Construction work has commenced on the second desert-road in June, 2005 and it was completed by the end of 2007.

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