Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture (Chinese: 伊犁哈萨克自治州, Pinyin: Yīlí Hāsàkè zìzhìzhōu, Kazakh: ىله قازاق اۆتونومىيالى وبلىسى, Іле Қазақ автономиялы облысы, İle Qazaq avtonomïyalı oblısı, Uyghur: ئىلى قازاق ئاپتونوم ۋىلايىتى, Ili Qazaq aptonom wilayiti, Ili Ķazaķ aptonom vilayiti), in northernmost Xinjiang, is the only Kazakh autonomous prefecture of the People's Republic of China.
|Official name||Hanzi||Area||Population||Uyghur name||Map link|
|Tacheng (Tarbagatay) Prefecture||塔城地区||98824||910,000||Tarbaƣatay||Tacheng City only|
|Altay Prefecture||阿勒泰地区||118015||590,000||Altay||Altay City only|
|Yining (Gulja) City||伊宁市||575||340,000||Ƣulja|
|Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County|| 察布查尔|
Geographically, Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture can be divided into two parts. Altay Prefecture and Tarbagatay Prefectures, together with the city of Kuitun, occupy most of the Dzungarian Basin in northern Xinjiang, north of the Borohoro Range. The rest of the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture is located entirely within the Ili River Basin, between Borohoro and the main range of Tian Shan. This latter region is exactly coterminous with the historical area that in the past was often called by Russians and Westerners as Kulja or Kuldja (see, e.g. 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica article on Kulja) or Ili.
The Uyghurs, and in the 12th century the Kara-Khitai, took possession of it in turn. Genghis Khan conquered Kulja in the 13th century, and the Mongol Khans resided in the valley of the Ili. It is supposed that the Oirats conquered it at the end of the 16th or the beginning of the 17th century.
In the 1760s, the Qing built nine fortified towns (九城) in the Ili Basin:
|Original Chinese name||Hanzi||Turkic (Uyghur) name||Modern name of the location||Notes|
|Huiyuan Cheng||惠远城||Kürä Shahr||Huiyuan town (惠远镇)||Was the residence of the Ili Governor General until 1866, and also known as New Kulja, Manchu Kulja, or Ili at the time.|
|Ningyuan Cheng||宁远城||Kulja (Ghulja)||Yining City（伊宁)||Also was known as Old Kulja or Taranchi Kulja|
|Huining Cheng||惠宁城||Bayandai||Bayandai township (巴彦岱镇) within Yining City, some 10 to 18 km to the west of the Yining center city|
|Taleqi Cheng||塔勒奇城||Tarchi||Within Huocheng County（霍城县）|
|Zhande Cheng||瞻德城||Chaghan Usu||Qingshuihe town (清水河镇) in Huocheng County, some 60-70 km NW of Yining|
|Guangren Cheng||广仁城||Ukurborosuk||Lucaogou town (芦草沟镇) in Huocheng County, NE of Qingshuihe|
|Gongchen Cheng||拱宸城||Khorgos||In Huocheng County; was county seat of Huocheng County until 1966|
|Xichun Cheng||熙春城||Khara Bulaq||Area commonly referred to as Chengpanzi (城盘子) in the Hanbin village (汉宾乡) within Yining City, a few km west of the city center|
|Suiding Cheng||绥定城||Ukharliq||County seat of Huocheng County since 1966, some 40 km NW of Yining. Renamed Shuiding town (水定镇) in 1965||Governor's residence 1883-1912, when it became known as New/Manchu/Chinese Kulja|
Huiyuan Cheng, as the seat of the Ili Governor General, who was the chief commander of the Qing troops in entire Xinjiang, became the administrative capital of the region. It was provided with a large penal establishment and strong garrison. This city was called New Kulja, Manhcu Kulja, Chinese Kulja, or Ili by the Russians and Westerners, to distinguish it from Nigyuan/Yining, known as Old Kulja or Taranchi Kulja.
The first Ili Governor General was Ming Rui (明瑞). The Qing tradition, not broken until the days of Zuo Zongtang in the 1870s, was to only appoint Manchus as officials in Xinjiang.
During the insurrection of 1864 the Dungans and the Taranchis formed here the Taranchi Sultanate. Huiyuan (Manchu Kulja) was the last Qing fortress in the Ili Valley to fall to the rebels. The insurgent Dungans massacred most of Manchu Kulja's inhabitants; Governor General Mingsioi (Ming Xü) (明绪) assembled his family and staff in his mansion, and blew it up, dying under its ruins.
The sultanate led to the occupation of the Ili basin (Kulja, in contemporary Western terms) by the Russians in 1871. Ten years later the territory was restored to China, and its boundary with Russia was assigned in accordance to the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1881).
On January 7, 1912, Yang Cuanxu (杨缵绪) of Ili occupied Huiyuan (惠远城) and shot the last Qing Governor General of Ili, Zhi Rui (志锐).
See also: Xabib Yunic