city, western Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang, China. It is the chief city, agricultural market, and commercial centre of the Ili River valley, which is a principal route from the Xinjiang region into Central Asia. The valley is far wetter than any other part of Xinjiang and has rich grazing land. Kuldja has been a strategic centre since early times, being known to the Tang dynasty (618-907) by the name Gongyue and to the Mongols as Almarikh, under which name it became the capital of the 13th-century Mongol conqueror Chagatai Khan. It first came under direct Chinese control in 1755-57, during the wars with the Dzungars. The Chinese subsequently established several forts near the Ili (Yili) River. In the 1870s the area figured in a prolonged border dispute between China and Russia
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