Ili River

Ili River

The Ili River (Іле, İle, Или; 伊犁河, Yili He) is a river in northwestern China (Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region) and southeastern Kazakhstan (the Almaty Province).

It is 1,439 km (870 miles) long, 815 km of which in Kazakhstan. It takes its beginning in eastern Tian Shan from the Tekes and Kunges (or Künes) rivers. The Ili River drains the basin between the Tian Shan the Borohoro (P'o-lo-k'o-nu) Mountains to the north.

Flowing into Lake Balkhash it forms an immense delta with vast wetland regions of lakes, marshes and jungle-like vegetation.

Chinese part

The city of Yining (Kulja) is located on the northern side of the river some 100 km upstream from the international border. On the southern side, even closer to the border, Qapqal Xibe Autonomous County is located, which is home to many of the China's Xibe people.

Kazakh part

The part of Kazakhstan drained by the Ili and its tributaries is known in Kazakh as Zhetysu ('Seven Rivers') or in Russian as Semirechye (the same meaning).

The Kapchagai Hydroelectric power station was built from 1965 to 1970 in the middle flow of Ili River, forming the Kapchagay Reservoir - a 110 km lake north of Almaty and Issyk Kol. Tamgaly, some 20 km downstream along Ili River is a site of rock drawings. The name Tamgaly in Kazakh means painted or marked place.

Tributaries include

Historical connections

Ili river gave a name to Ili river treaty of 638 CE, which formalized a division of the Turkic Kaganate (552-638 CE) into Western Turkic Kaganate and Eastern Turkic Kaganates, with the border between two states fixed along the Ili river.


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