|Tian Shan 天山|
|Tengri Tagh, Tengir-Too|
|Elevation||7,439 m (24,406 ft)|
|Countries||China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan|
|Age of rock||Mesozoic and Cenozoic|
|Official name||Xinjiang Tianshan|
|Designated||2013 (37th session)|
|Official name||Western Tien-Shan|
|Designated||2016 (40th session)|
|State Party||Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan|
The Tian Shan, 7,439 metres (24,406 ft) high. Its lowest point is the Turpan Depression, which is 154 m (505 ft) below sea level.also known as the Tengri Tagh or Tengir-Too, meaning the Mountains of Heaven or the Heavenly Mountain, is a large system of mountain ranges located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Jengish Chokusu, at
One of the earliest historical references to these mountains may be related to the Xiongnu word Qilian (traditional Chinese :祁連; simplified Chinese :祁连; pinyin :Qílián) – according to Tang commentator Yan Shigu, Qilian is the Xiongnu word for sky or heaven. Sima Qian in the Records of the Grand Historian mentioned Qilian in relation to the homeland of the Yuezhi and the term is believed to refer to the Tian Shan rather than the Qilian Mountains 1,500 kilometres (930 mi) further east now known by this name. The Tannu-Ola mountains in Tuva has the same meaning in its name ("heaven/celestial mountains" or "god/spirit mountains"). The name in Chinese, Tian Shan, is most likely a direct translation of the traditional Kyrgyz name for the mountains, Teñir Too. The Tian Shan is sacred in Tengrism, and its second-highest peak is known as Khan Tengri which may be translated as "Lord of the Spirits". At the 2013 Conference on World Heritage, the eastern portion of Tian Shan in western China's Xinjiang Region was listed as a World Heritage Site. The western portion in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan was then listed in 2016.
Tian Shan is north and west of the Taklamakan Desert and directly north of the Tarim Basin in the border region of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Xinjiang in Northwest China. In the south it links up with the Pamir Mountains and to north and east it meets the Altai Mountains of Mongolia.
In Western cartography as noted by the National Geographic Society, the eastern end of the Tian Shan is usually understood to be east of Ürümqi, with the range to the east of that city known as the Bogda Shan as part of the Tian Shan. Chinese cartography from the Han Dynasty to the present agrees, with the Tian Shan including the Bogda Shan and Barkol ranges.
The Tian Shan are a part of the Himalayan orogenic belt, which was formed by the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates in the Cenozoic era. They are one of the longest mountain ranges in Central Asia and stretch some 2,900 kilometres (1,800 mi) eastward from Tashkent in Uzbekistan.
The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Jengish Chokusu (also called Victory Peak) on the border of China. At 7,439 metres (24,406 ft) high, it is the highest point in Kyrgyzstan. The Tian Shan's second highest peak, Khan Tengri (King Heaven), straddles the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-China tripoint and at 7,010 metres (23,000 ft) is the highest point of Kazakhstan. Mountaineers class these as the two most northerly peaks over 7,000 metres (23,000 ft) in the world.
The Torugart Pass, at 3,752 metres (12,310 ft), is located at the border between Kyrgyzstan and China's Xinjiang province. The forested Alatau ranges, which are at a lower altitude in the northern part of the Tian Shan, are inhabited by pastoral tribes that speak Turkic languages.
The Tian Shan are separated from the Tibetan Plateau by the Taklimakan Desert and the Tarim Basin to the south.
The major rivers rising in the Tian Shan are the Syr Darya, the Ili River and the Tarim River. The Aksu Canyon is a notable feature in the northwestern Tian Shan.
Continuous permafrost is typically found in the Tian Shan starting at the elevation of about 3,500-3,700 m above the sea level. Discontinuous alpine permafrost usually occurs down to 2,700-3,300 m, but in certain locations, due to the peculiarity of the aspect and the microclimate, it can be found at elevations as low as 2,000 m.
One of the first Europeans to visit and the first to describe the Tian Shan in detail was the Russian explorer Peter Semenov, who did so in the 1850s.
Glaciers in the Tian Shan Mountains have been rapidly shrinking and have lost 27%, or 5.4 billion tons annually, of its ice mass since 1961 compared to an average of 7% worldwide.It is estimated that by 2050 half of the remaining glaciers will have melted.
The Tian Shan have a number of named ranges which are often mentioned separately (all distances are approximate).
In China the Tian Shan starts north of Kumul City (Hami) with the U-shaped Barkol Mountains, from about 600 to 400 kilometres (370 to 250 mi) east of Ürümqi. Then the Bogda Shan (god mountains) run from 350 to 40 kilometres (217 to 25 mi) east of Ürümqi. Then there is a low area between Ürümqi and the Turfan Depression. The Borohoro Mountains start just south of Ürümqi and run west-northwest 450 kilometres (280 mi) separating Dzungaria from the Ili River basin. Their north end abuts on the 200 kilometres (120 mi) Dzungarian Alatau which runs east northeast along Sino-Kazakh border. They start 50 kilometres (31 mi) east of Taldykorgan in Kazakhstan and end at the Dzungarian Gate. The Dzungarian Alatau in the north, the Borohoro Mountains in the middle and the Ketmen Ridge in the south make a reversed Z or S, the northeast enclosing part of Dzungaria and the southwest enclosing the upper Ili valley.
In Kyrgyzstan the mainline of the Tian Shan continues as Narat Range from the base of the Borohoros west 570 kilometres (350 mi) to the point where China, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan meet. Here is the highest part of the range – the Central Tian Shan, with Peak Pobeda (Kakshaal Too range) and Khan Tengri. West of this, the Tian Shan split into an 'eye', with Issyk Kul Lake in its center. The south side of the lake is the Terskey Alatau and the north side the Kyungey Ala-Too (shady and sunny Ala-Too). North of the Kyungey Ala-Too and parallel to it is the Trans-Ili Alatau in Kazakhstan just south of Almaty. West of the eye, the range continues 400 kilometres (250 mi) as the Kyrgyz Ala-Too, separating Chüy Region from Naryn Region and then Kazakhstan from the upper valley of the river Talas, the south side of which is the 200 kilometres (120 mi) Talas Ala-Too Range ('Ala-too' is a Kyrgyz spelling of Alatau). At the east end of the Talas Alatau the Suusamyr Too range runs southeast enclosing the Suusamyr Valley or plateau.
As for the area south of the Fergana Valley there is an 800 kilometres (500 mi) group of mountains that curves west-southwest from south of Issyk Kul Lake separating the Tarim Basin from the Fergana Valley. The Fergana Range runs northeast towards the Talas Ala-Too and separates the upper Naryn basin from Fergana proper. The southern side of these mountains merge into the Pamirs in Tajikistan (Alay Mountains and Trans-Alay Range). West of this is the Turkestan Range, which continues almost to Samarkand.
On the north margin of the Tarim basin between the mountain chain of the Kokshaal-Tau in the south and that one of the Terskey Alatau in the north there stretches the 100 to 120 km (62 to 75 mi) wide Tian Shan plateau with its set up mountain landscape. The Kokshaal-Tau continues with an overall length of 570 km (350 mi) from W of Pik Dankowa (Dankov, 5986 m) up to east-north-east to Pik Pobeda (Tumor Feng, 7439 m) and beyond it. This mountain chain as well as that of the 300 km long parallel mountain chain of the Terskey Alatau and the Tian Shan plateau situated in between, during glacial times were covered by connected ice-stream-networks and a plateau glacier. Currently, the interglacial remnant of this glaciation is formed by the only just 61 km long South Inylschek glacier. The outlet glacier tongues of the plateau glacier flowed to the north as far as down to Lake Issyk Kul (Lake) at 1605 (1609) m asl calving in this 160 km long lake.
In the same way, strong glaciation was in excess of 50 km wide in the high mountain area of the Kungey Alatau, connecting north of Issyk Kul and stretching as far as the mountain foreland near Alma Ata. The Kungey Alatau is 230 km long. Down from the Kungey Alatau the glacial glaciers also calved into the Issyk Kul lake. The Chon-Kemin valley was glaciated up to its inflow into the Chu valley. From the west-elongation of the Kungey Alatau—that is the Kirgizskiy Alatau range (42°25′N/74–75°E)—the glacial glaciers flowed down as far as into the mountain foreland down to 900 m asl (close to the town Bishkek). Among others the Ak-Sai valley glacier has developed there a mountain foreland glacier.
Altogether the glacial Tian Shan glaciation occupied an area of c. 118,000 square kilometres (46,000 sq mi). The glacier snowline (ELA) between the glacier feeding area and melting zone was about 1200m lower during the last ice age than it is today. Under the condition of a comparable precipitation ratio, there would result from this a depression of the average annual temperature of 7.2 to 8.4 °C for the Last Glacial Maximum compared with today.
The Tian Shan holds important forests of Schrenk's Spruce ( Picea schrenkiana ) at altitudes of over 2,000 metres (6,600 ft); the lower slopes have unique natural forests of wild walnuts and apples.
The Tian Shan in its immediate geological past was kept from glaciation due to the "protecting" warm influence of the Indian Ocean monsoon climate. This defined its ecological features which could sustain its distinctive ecosphere. The mountains were subjected to constant geological changes with constantly evolving drainage systems which affected the patterns of vegetation, as well as exposing fertile soil for newly emerging seedlings to thrive in.
Tulips originated in Tian Shan Mountains. The plant then made its way to Turkey via the Silk Road and became a symbol of the Ottoman Empire.
Ancestors of important crop vegetation were established and thrived in the area, among them: apricots ( Prunus armeniaca ), pears ( Pyrus spp.), pomegranates ( Punica granatum ), figs ( Ficus ), cherries ( Prunus avium ) and mulberries ( Morus ). The Tian Shan region also included important animals like bear, deer and wild boar, which helped to spread seeds and expand the ecological diversity.
Among the vegetation colonizing the Tian Shan came, likely via birds from the east, the ancestors of what we know as the "sweet" apple. The fruit probably then looked like a tiny, long-stalked, bitter apple something like Malus baccata, the Siberian crab. The pips may have been carried in a bird's crop or clotted onto feet or feathers.
What natural features of the unique Tian Shan might have contributed to this rigorous selection program? Time is, as we have seen, not a problem. The turnover of individual trees is likewise conducive to the rapid evolution of a tree species, as is the fact that sweet apples are now, at least for all practical purposes, self-incompatible—that is, they cannot pollinate themselves. Therefore each apple tree within the forest and even each pip, usually five, within each individual fruit will be different. There are many apples on a mature tree, so natural selection has a rich and diverse population upon which to work. Birds, of course, eat all manner of fruit. But most birds eat seeds—a dietary feature not conducive either to the selection or spread of a fruit tree. Sweet apples are often eviscerated by birds, but the seeds are frequently left in the empty shell of the pome. The reason is that apple (and pear and quince) seeds are rich in cyanoglycosides, which are highly repellent, particularly to birds... Moreover, the placenta of the apple fruit, the womb, contains inhibitory substances that prevent the germination of the apple seed in situ. This is a commonly observed phenomenon in fruits as Michael Evenari showed in 1949. So what then does, or did, distribute the original apple seed? The bear...
|Climate data for Tian Shan, 3639 m asl (1981–2010 normals)|
|Record high °C (°F)||−2.0|
|Average high °C (°F)||−13.3|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||−20.4|
|Average low °C (°F)||−27.8|
|Record low °C (°F)||−42|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||4.9|
|Average precipitation days (≥ 1 mm)||1.78||3.18||5.46||6.92||10.92||12.78||11.98||9.58||7.40||5.18||3.74||3.29||82.21|
|Source 1: Météo climat stats|
|Source 2: Météo Climat|
In Tengrism, Khan Tengri is the lord of all spirits and the religion's supreme deity, and it is the name given to the second highest peak of Tian Shan.
Issyk-Kul is an endorheic lake in the Northern Tian Shan mountains in Eastern Kyrgyzstan. It is the seventh-deepest lake in the world, the tenth-largest lake in the world by volume and the second-largest saline lake after the Caspian Sea. Issyk-Kul means "warm lake" in the Kyrgyz language; although it is located at a lofty elevation of 1,607 metres (5,272 ft) and subject to severe cold during winter, it never freezes.
The Tibetan Plateau, also known as the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau or the Qing–Zang Plateau or as the Himalayan Plateau in India, is a vast elevated plateau in South Asia, Central Asia and East Asia, covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region, most of Qinghai, Northwestern Yunnan, Western half of Sichuan, Southern Gansu provinces in Western China, southern Xinjiang, the Indian regions of Ladakh and Lahaul and Spiti as well as Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan, Bhutan, northern Nepal, eastern Tajikistan and southern Kyrgyzstan. It stretches approximately 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) north to south and 2,500 kilometres (1,600 mi) east to west. It is the world's highest and largest plateau above sea level, with an area of 2,500,000 square kilometres (970,000 sq mi). With an average elevation exceeding 4,500 metres (14,800 ft) and being surrounded by imposing mountain ranges that harbor the world's two highest summits, Mount Everest and K2, the Tibetan Plateau is often referred to as "the Roof of the World".
Jengish Chokusu is the highest mountain in the Tian Shan mountain system at 7,439 metres (24,406 ft). It lies on the Kyrgyzstan–China border between the Ak-Suu District, in the Issyk-Kul Region of far Eastern Kyrgyzstan and Wensu County, Xinjiang, China. It is part of the Kakshaal Too, the highest part of the Tian Shan and located southeast of lake Issyk Kul.
Zhetysu, or Jeti-Suu, is a historical name of a part of Central Asia corresponding to the southeastern part of modern Kazakhstan. It owes its name, meaning "seven rivers" in Kazakh, to the rivers that flow from the southeast into Lake Balkhash. Zhetysu falls into today's Almaty Region and other South-Eastern parts of Kazakhstan and some parts of Northern Kyrgyzstan.
Issyk-Kul Region is one of the regions of Kyrgyzstan. Its capital is Karakol. It is surrounded by Almaty Region, Kazakhstan (north), Chüy Region (west), Naryn Region (southwest) and Xinjiang, China (southeast). It takes its name from Lake Issyk-Kul, the world's second-largest high altitude lake. Its total area is 43,735 km2 (16,886 sq mi). The resident population of the region was 501,933 as of January 2021. The region has a sizeable Russian minority.
Khan Tengri is a mountain of the Tian Shan mountain range. It is on the China—Kyrgyzstan—Kazakhstan tripoint, east of lake Issyk Kul. Its geologic elevation is 6,995 m (22,949 ft), but its glacial icecap rises to 7,010 m (22,999 ft). For this reason, in mountaineering circles, including for the Soviet Snow Leopard award criteria, it is considered a 7,000-metre peak.
Ile Alatau, also spelt as Trans-Ili Alatau, is a part of the Northern Tian Shan mountain system in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It is the northernmost mountain range of Tian Shan stretching for about 350 km (220 mi) with a maximal elevation of 4,973 m (16,316 ft). The term "Alatau" refers to a kind of mountain. The range is bounded from the north by the Ili Depression of the Ili River, hence the name.
The Aksu River is a transboundary river in the Xinjiang province in China and Ak-Suu District of Issyk-Kul Province of Kyrgyzstan. Its upper section in Kyrgyzstan is known as the Saryjaz River or Sarydzhaz River. The middle section, between the Kyrgyz-Chinese border and the confluence with the Toshkan, is called Kumarik River. The total length of the river is 282 kilometres (175 mi), of which 197 kilometres (122 mi) are in Kyrgyzstan. It has a drainage basin of 12,900 square kilometres (5,000 sq mi) in Kyrgyzstan. The Aksu is the only one of the Tarim's source rivers to run throughout the year.
Jeti-Ögüz is a district of Issyk-Kul Region in north-eastern Kyrgyzstan. Its seat lies at Kyzyl-Suu. Its area is 14,499 square kilometres (5,598 sq mi), and its resident population was 93,392 in 2021. It comprises much of the eastern end of the Terskey Ala-Too Range.
The Terskey Ala-Too is a mountain range in the Tian Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan. It stretches south and southeast of Lake Issyk-Kul, from the river Joon-Aryk near Kochkor in the west to the far northeastern part of Kyrgyzstan. The length of the range is 354 km and its width is 40 km. Its highest peak is Karakol Peak. Another high peak is Boris Yeltsin Peak.
The Kyrgyz Ala-Too also known as Kyrgyz Alatau, Kyrgyz Range, and Alexander Range is a large range in the North Tien-Shan. It stretches for a total length of 454 km from the west-end of Issyk-Kul to the town Taraz in Kazakhstan. It runs in the east–west direction, separating Chüy Valley from Kochkor Valley, Suusamyr Valley, and Talas Valley. Talas Ala-Too Range adjoins the Kyrgyz Ala-Too in vicinity of Töö Ashuu Pass. The western part of Kyrgyz Ala-Too serves as a natural border between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
The Kungey Alatau, also spelled Kungoy Ala-Too, and Kungey Alataw, is a mountain range, which forms the Northern Tien Shan with Zailiyskiy Alatau. The word "Alatau" or "Ala-too" means "variegated mountains", a designation indicating a pronounced high-altitude zone of mountains, partly white due to snow, partly dark on snowless areas. The word "Kungey" or "Kyungei" means "the side facing to the South".
Engilchek Glacier is a glacier in the Central Tian Shan Mountains of Issyk-Kul Region, northeastern Kyrgyzstan. Its snout is 50 km east of the village of Engilchek. The South Engilchek Glacier ranks as the sixth longest non-polar glacier in the world and is the largest and fastest moving glacier in Kyrgyzstan. The main glacier has two arms, the North and South Engilchek Glaciers. The latter is longer and provides an overall length of 60.5 kilometres (38 mi). with an area of 17.2 square kilometres (7 sq mi) and an ice thickness of roughly 150–200 m in the bottom parts. The glacier stems from the Chinese-Kazakh-Kyrgyz massif of Khan Tengri and Pik Pobedy and the upper part of the glacier falls in all three countries. Meltwater from the glacier feeds the Engilchek River, a tributary of the Saryjaz, which crosses the Chinese border into the Tarim Basin. Water from this glacier also feeds the seasonal glacial Lake Merzbacher which causes frequent glacial lake outburst floods in the Engilchek River valley.
Boris Yeltsin Peak is a mountain in the Terskey Ala-too range of the Tian Shan. It is located in the Issyk-Kul Region of Kyrgyzstan. It was renamed in 2002 for the first president of the Russian Federation Boris Yeltsin. Its previous name was Oguz-Bashi.
The Tüp is a river in Tüp District and Ak-Suu District of Issyk-Kul Region of Kyrgyzstan. It rises on north slopes of Teskey Ala-Too Range, takes in several tributaries from the Kungey Alatau and flows into lake Issyk-Kul. With its length of 120 km (75 mi) the Tüp is the longest river of the Issyk-Kul basin. The basin area is 1,180 square kilometres (460 sq mi), the second largest of the rivers entering Issyk-Kul.
The China–Kyrgyzstan border is 1,063 km (661 mi) in length and runs from the tripoint with Kazakhstan following a roughly south-west line across various mountain ridges and peaks of the Tian Shan range down to the tripoint with Tajikistan. The border divides Issyk-Kul Region, Naryn Region and Osh Region in Kyrgyzstan from Aksu Prefecture and Kizilsu Kyrgyz Autonomous Prefecture in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China.
The Engilchek is a river in Ak-Suu District of Issyk-Kul Region of eastern Kyrgyzstan. It drains the Engilchek Glacier in the Central Tian Shan Mountains. It is a left tributary of the river Saryjaz. It is 62 kilometres (39 mi) long, has a drainage basin of 1,739 square kilometres (671 sq mi), and its annual average flow rate is 30.0 m3/s (1,060 cu ft/s). The only populated place on its banks is the mining village Engilchek, near its confluence with the Saryjaz.
Seok Pass, Söök Pass or Suyak Pass is a mountain pass in the Terskey Alatau mountain range of Kyrgyzstan. Its elevation of 4,028 metres (13,220 ft) makes it the third highest mountain pass in Kyrgyzstan after Bedel Pass and Kyzylart Pass, and the highest one that is not on a border. It connects the Ala-Bel plateau, where the Kumtor Gold Mine is located, to the upper Naryn River valley.
The geology of Kyrgyzstan began to form during the Proterozoic. The country has experienced long-running uplift events, forming the Tian Shan mountains and large, sediment filled basins.
Khan-Tengiri Nature Park is a national park in Ak-Suu District of Issyk-Kul Region of Kyrgyzstan established in February 2016. It covers 2,758.003 km2 (1,064.871 sq mi). The purpose of the park is conservation of the unique nature complex and biodiversity, protection of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, and extension of the network of specially protected areas of Kyrgyz Republic. The park is located in the easternmost part of Kyrgyzstan between mountain ranges Terskey Ala-Too and Kakshaal Too. The nature park is largely within Saryjaz river basin.
祁連山即天山也，匈奴呼天為祁連 (translation: Qilian Mountain is the Tian Shan, the Xiongnu called the sky qilian)