Xinjiang is an autonomous region (Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region) of the People's Republic of China and also claimed by the Republic of China. It is the largest Chinese administrative division and spans over 1.6 million sq. km. Xinjiang borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region. It administers most of Aksai Chin, a territory formally part of Kashmir's Ladakh region over which India claims sovereignty since 1962.

"Xinjiang" literally means "New Frontier", a name given during the Qing Dynasty. It is home to a number of different ethnic groups and major ethnic groups include Uyghur, Han, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz and Mongol. Older English-language reference works often refer to the area as Chinese Turkestan, Sinkiang and East Turkestan. Xinjiang is divided into the Dzungarian Basin in the north and the Tarim Basin in the south by a mountain range.

With a documented history of at least 2,500 years, and a succession of different peoples and empires vying for control over the territory, Xinjiang has been, and continues to be, a focal point of ethnic tensions well into the beginning of the 21st century.