In Jiuguan Prefecture the main ethnic group are the Han. Others are the Mongols, the Yugur and the Hui and the Kazakh.
Nearby the Suzhou District (JiuQuan City) the Yugur population can be found concentrated inside their own community village known and designated on Maps as Huangnibao. Its full name is Jiuquan Huangnibao Yugur Autonomous Township, and it is one of the few autonomous ethnic home villages of the rare Yugur Ethnic Minority Group of China (PRC). Most of the estimated 15000 Yugurs in China, some 90%, live at Sunan Yugur Autonomous County in Gansu Province, the remaining 10% is mostly concentrated near the Town of Jiuquan at Huangnibao.
Further away from Jiuquan City lies the Aksay Kazakh Autonomous County with its Capital Town of Aksay. Aksay can be found in the far west beyond Dunhuang City, near the Mountainous edge of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateux. A third ethnic enclave, the Subei Mongol Autonomous County lies due South-West of Aksay Town with its Capital located along route S302 at Dangchengwan.
Read More about the Ethnic Groups living in Jiuquan Town and wider City Prefecture on the dedicated Information Page.
Jiuguan Town & County Today :
History of Jiuguan :
Jiuguan Climate & Weather :
The climate in Jiuquan is both temperate, sunny and dry, distinguished by large temperature discrepancies between one season and the next. The Highiest temperature here is 40`C, and the lowest is Minus 31 Celcius in winter. The annual temperature average temperature is 8.7 °C.but this mean value sways between 3.9 Celcius to 9.3 Celcius with the Season.
While the overall precipitation is low, at an average of 100mm and falling. The coldest month is January and the hottest is July. Generally speaking, the optimum time to pay a visit is from May to early October, although Dust Storms may occur in the early season.
The Jiuquan Space Launch Center reports that there are around 260 to 300 sunny and dry days each year suitable for space launch activities.
The majority of launches from Jiuquan SLC were carried out in Autumn and Winter seasons between September and December.
Geographic & Historic Maps on Jiuguan, Silk Road and related Regions of Gansu Province.
This page was last updated on: September 15, 2015
The Jiuquan Report
Introduction to Jiuquan (Suzhou) & City Prefecture
Jiuguan Landmarks & Monuments
JiuQuan & Area Maps
Jiuguan (Simplified Chinese: 酒泉) is one of the major stopovers on the ancient "Silk Road" strung along the Hexi Corridor northwestwards from Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu Province. The prefecture of Jiuquan was established more than 1,600 years ago to protect the vital economic artery that would later become known as the Silk Road.
During its Time the City was visited by 13Th Century traveler Marco Polo, who described his route, region and the Town.
As does its neighbor Jiayuguan a few miles away and most other Towns in Western Gansu Province, the town of JiuGuan owes its
Please browse around the Town of Jiuguan and wider Area using our Geographic & Historic Maps. Find out more about the City and Area through our many Photographic Reports on the main historic landmarks and Monuments and their rich history.
Population: The Total Population of Jiuguan City and its Prefecture is between 900.000 and 1 million. Suzhou District, the main population center counts 340.000 citizens.
Today's Jiuguan is an easily accessible town reachable either by aircraft, or by train from the Provincial Capital of Lanzhou. Once an utterly remote outpost, today's Jiuguan , together with its twin city Jiayuguan, finds itself unlocked, and finally well connected to the Central Heartlands. Today's communications are swift, and the City has seen an influx of newcomers, including international Tourist and Travelers. Although not a main Silk Road Tourist magnet, and not part of regular itineraries, backpackers and lonely planet travelers regularly reach this spot. A new influx of Chinese Tourist came recently when the Space Flight Center opened (some) of its grounds to the eager and curious tourist and traveler. So far, the Space City remains off limits to international persons, no need to apply. Trespassing, naturally, would be ill advised.
Traditional Industries in Jiuquan have always been of an agricultural nature. Since the founding years of the Peoples Republic agricultural industry in Jiuquan has seen various changes, lifting the town out of small scale farming into collectivized farming and life-stock breeding.
life to a natural spring of fresh water, bursting from the ground. Around it civilization could thrive and travelers could replenish their strengths. The importance of the spring in the history of the town and region cannot be under-estimated and thus, not surprisingly, the Town owes its name to the Spring. The Spring in turn derives its name from a Legend dating to the Han Dynasty Era.
As recorded history tells us, at the Time the Han Armies under overall command of General Huo Qubing, had launched a successful offensive against the nomadic tribes known as the Xiongnu. After dealing a decisive blow to the Xiongnu Armies and opening the first section of the West to Chinese Military and Administrative Rule, the victorious Han Army camped at Jiuquan.
As the legend goes, as sign of appreciation and High Honor, the Emperor Wudi had sent the Garrison the Gift of Ten Huge Bottles of Wine. As it was decreed that there be a celebratory feast of wine the soldiers gathered around the waters of the spring to have their leasure. Naturally, the problem arose that their was an obvious lack of Wine. There were some 20.000 men in the encamped army. How was it to be divided? None of the solutions seemed satisfactory, until the Great Commander came up with a brilliant one of his own. In a generous and emphatic gesture, Commander Huo ordered the Wine Vessels to be emptied into the JiuGuan spring so that it could be shared with his soldiers. That evening all attending the feast could drink the wine of the Emperor.
Before the Victory Feast, the local lake was known as Golden Spring, but since both Town and Waters have been known as Wine Spring.
The main traffic artery near Jiuguan today is the main East-West Highway from Lanzhou to Urumqi, the Capital of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region. Alongside runs a recently modernized railway, following roughly what has for millennia been the trajectory of the Silk Road.
To the East lie various small towns, such as Qingshui, after which the City of Zhangye is the next large population center in the Region, the next station along the ancient pathway of the Silk Road leading East.
Historically Jiuguan was of less significance than its twin Jiayuguan, especially since the construction of the Ming Dynasty Fortress at Jiayuguan. Jiuquan was a small border outpost and an administrative center, mainly for the receiving of people traveling on the Silk Road in- and out of China, the valueing of their goods and the collection of taxes. It was hardly a thriving City or Urban Center in any other sense. The local citizenry lived from farming and life-stock breeding and were relatively poor for many centuries. There are however some historic landmarks in the vicinity.
The oldest known relic of Jiuguan visitable is the tomb chamber at Dingjiazha Village near Jiuquan, a magical hidden place where one can admire some of the country's earliest murals dating back to the East Jin Dynasty (317 AD - 430 AD).
The second landmark of old Jiuguan Town is the City's Drum tower, erected in the year 343 AD. Attractive for its historic value alone as it is said to be the only structure of the many in Jiuguan that Marco Polo praised in his writings (Il Millione), the old tower is said to be called "Night Watchman's Tower" and was part of the eastern city gate. As the city expanded, it was edged into the inner city and its name was changed to "Drum Tower". As for the rest of Silk Road History, Jiuquan is famous among Christians as the place of Death of one Bento De Gois, a Jesuit Missionary Explorer and Papal Legate. He died at Jiuquan in 1607 AD when the Silk Road was still very active.
Although of major importance as a support base during the Silk Road Era, after the passing of its heydays, the town of Jiuguan mostly lost its major economic functions and resorted to a mainly agricultural existence, based on the waters of the nearby spring and river. With a negligable amount of landmarks compared to nearby Jiayuguan with its spectacular Great Wall Fortress, the town was forgotten for a long time.
The town was only rediscovered during the early 1950's when it became the secret base of China's first atomic weapons program. Located thoroughly on the fringes of Chinese Powers and Civilization it was a perfect place for a secret base, as their was hardly any traffic in the area, the local economy ranked as extremely poor and the only people to be nosy were a few ignorant and often illiterate local farmers. Throughout the 1950's and 1960's Jiuguan witnessed its first transformation in modern Times.
More recently Jiuguan has become famous as one of three officially designated Space Flight Cities of China and thus it is currently undergoing a large scale reconstruction, booming development, various construction projects and an influx of highly educated migrants from all over the nation, eager to work in the further development of Jiuguan and the National Space Program.
A Full History of JiuQuan City or the Ancient Suzhou District of the Han Dynasty, relating the Landmarks, Monuments, Hotspots and other sites of importance in Jiuquan to the stories and events of the Past. Find out more about Marco Polo and the other Silk Road Explorers that passed through Town! Read through the text to find more details on Jiuquan (Suzhou District) in Gansu Province.
Later during the 1980's and 1990's coal mines and various other mining projects have diversified the economy and provided new local Jobs. However, poverty was still widespread in the region, and education levels were low on average.
In this sense, the nearby Jiuquan Iron & Steel factory (at Jiayuguan) has been of enormous importance to the Town. As one of the largest steel mills in the Nation it offers a variety of jobs to locals, as well as various incentives to the economy. Since the arrival of the steel mill an airport has been needed to ferry businessmen and technicians in- and out of town.
Other industries found in the vicinity of Jiuquan City are machinery factories producing for local agricultural needs such as threshing and fodder-crushing machines ,and construction equipment. Furthermore, there are several carpet factories and fur (Wool shearing)- and food processing industries.
In recent years, the city Government of Jiuquan and its county have vigorously promoted the standardization of agricultural production, and the building of brand-name products to enhance the market competitiveness of agricultural products.
Agricultural products have been improved in quality and better checks have been implemented to improve safety level of production as well as product.
According to the Jiuquan Daily Newspaper, recently seven kinds of agricultural products originating from Jiuquan County have been certified as pollution-free agricultural products the country.
Among the Brands certified are the West Lake, West Lake Village, a type of Hami melon, Hedong Township "Dream City Brand" melon and various others.
In the 1950's illiteracy was the norm in this part of Gansu Province. Much has changed over time. Better health care has been provided, new schools were built and with the massive developments of railroads and highways throughout the west communciations have been much improved. Although in 2009 the Western Regions including Gansu Province remain on the problem list of the National Government, income levels have risen, education levels have improved and many Jiuquan locals have now enjoyed a higher education.
More recently, since the turn of the Millennium Jiuquan as a City has had a dramatic make-over. Not only has the growth in activities at the nearby Jiuquan Space Launch Center brought a fresh impulse to the local economy, it has done far more than that. An influx of educated migrants has descended upon the Town City, transforming it ugly and somewhat ramshackle appearance into that of a gleaming and modern City, albeit a remote one lying somewhere in the desert. The cities make-over is still in progress as more new apartments and facilities are built for further migrants expected.
With the boom of China's economy suddenly thrusting the entire nation into the international spotlight, even remote Jiuquan has begotten its fair share of the profits. That is, Jiuquan has a growing and thriving Tourism Industry, especially with the opening of the Space Base to Guided tours. Although the guided tours are restricted to Chinese Nationals only, masses of well to do Tourist have since come to Jiuquan from all over China.
For westerners and international tourists there is far less to see at Jiuquan. They must resort to the impressive scenery of mountains, ancient history of the Silk Road, Marco Polo, and the cities Landmarks and Monuments such as the silk road museum and the Drum Tower. Only lately new, far more futuristic thrills are being added with the construction of the "Three Gorges in the Air", the worlds largest windmill project.
In the recent past the main souvenir to bring from Jiuquan was the Yeguangbei, literally, the night-glittering cup. This is a special jade product of Jiuquan Prefecture in Gansu Province and can be found on sale at tourist towns such as Dunhuang and Jiayuguan as well. Perhaps soon these will be surpassed by space gadgets and miniature windmills for the kids. Although it is unlikely to occur in such an exotic place as Jiuquan, anyone bored one can always go and play Marco Polo !
Before heading out on excursion to find Jiuquan it is important to note that the name Jiuquan can have several meanings. First of all it is the name given to the local Oasis Lake during the Han Dynasty Era. In this sense Jiuquan is literally translated as Wine Spring.
In the Third sense, Jiuquan on Maps is taken as the location of Suzhou District, which is the main and largest urban zone in the City Prefecture Region and its official administrative center. This Suzhou District of the third sense corresponds to the historic location of Suzhou Town, and includes the original Jiu Quan - Wine Spring who's waters sustained the population of this Town and Area for the last two millennia at least.
The JiuQuan described on the pages is the Suzhou District and administrative Center. Described are JiuQuan City and its immediate surrounding area's. For information on other parts of JiuQuan City Prefecture, such as Dunhuang and Aksay, click through to their corresponding pages by navigating the flank menu or Maps of Gansu Province.
The entire "prefecture-level city" of JiuQuan stretches for more than 500 km from east to west, occupying 191,342 km; its population as of 2002 AD was 962,000.
A Full listing of JiuQuan City Landmarks, Monuments, Hotspots and other sites of importance. Search through the list to find your Full Report and Photo-Virtual Tour of each monument or landmark within the Town.
Link: Satellite Image with Schematic of the Location and path of the Great Wall of China during the Ming Dynasty. Passes on the Great Wall included.
Notably, Jiuquan lies inside what is known as the "Hexi Corridor". This corridor is formed by a high plateaux which forms a narrow passage between two ranges of Mountains. To the South lie the Qilian Mountains which are the outermost Layer of the Tibetan High Plateaux. Peaks in this visibly impressive range reach well over 5 kilometers. To the North lie the slightly lower Mazong Shan, the Horse's Manes Mountains which form the old historic border with (Inner-)Mongolia. The only road through to the West and Central Asia, or vice versa is through the Corridor, making it a hottely contested stategic pass in the Past 2000 years. Marking the ancient border, the Great Wall of China runs from East to West through the Hexi Corridor and mostly rides atop the Horses Manes Mountains.
Contrary to the suggestion of its name as Jiuguan City, Jiuguan "City" in fact does not exist. The Jiuquan designated as such on most Maps (including Google Maps) is in reality the Suzhou District, born form the original Oasis Spring of Jiu Quan. This City, counts some 340.000 inhabitants and is growing. It measures surface area of 3,386 square kilometers and is located in the eastern part of Jiuquan "prefecture-level city".
The Hexi Corridor is known for its high winds which can occur at any time.
The worst winds, dust storms which can whip up impressive clouds of sand, mainly occur in spring time.
All this traveling sure made me thirsty !
Satellite Image based Map of the Gobi Desert and the Flow of the Yellow River showing Jiquan in the far west inside the crearly visible hexi corrdior.
Apart from growing famous as a National Space Flight Development Center, Jiuguan is the location of a cluster of one of China's smallest minority groups, the Yugur. The Yugur are described in the Ethnic Minorities section below on this Page.
On Top of this, since 2009 it has become the home of the largest Wind Energy Project on the Planet. Although the various windmill parks will be spread around the entire City Prefecture, Jiuquan has the name and is given as the main location for this hypermodern sustainable energy "theme park". Already it is attracting attention from the world over and many come down, among things to see and photograph the windmills.
Once a dusty Old City, or better yet, a small battered and dusty peasant town struggling for survival on the extreme fringes of Chinese Civilization, Jiuquan is undergoing its second transformation, and in 2009 the town has truly become a city with international ambitions, a near complete break with the historic past. Modern appartments abound, outsiders have become a regular occurence and -although still remote in location- Jiuquan has finally been connected to the outside world, or at least the rest of China.
Overview Map of Jiuquan City Prefecture and Counties of Subei Mongol, Aksai Kazakh, Dunhuang City, Anxi, Subei, Yumen and Jinta.
Warning: Although the main driving route to Heicheng (黑城), HalaHaote, better known as the Ruins of Khara-Koto is from Jiuquan in Gansu Province via Ejin Qi in Inner-Mongolia, then to the Ruins, this route is NOT OPEN TO FOREIGN NATIONALS. Driving through the region North of Jiuquan will lead to the security perimeter of Base 20 - China's Top-Secret and No.1 National Space Launch Facility. Anyone without a permit will be turned back and possibly arrested. Permits are not available to Foreign Nationals including Taiwan and HK.
Picture this: recording studio, far, far away ...
Did you see "Jail-break" ?
Digital Image - Satellite Overview of Jiuquan City, Gansu. Date: August 24, 2003.
There is no information on Hotels in Jiuquan. Most Foreign Tourist choose the nearby city center of Jiayuguan to The West from where it is just a short distance to the Jiayuguan Fortress and scenic sites of the Great Wall of China.