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see TurkistanTurkistan
or Turkestan
, historic region of central Asia. Western, or Russian, Turkistan extended from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Chinese frontier in the east and from the Aral-Irtysh watershed in the north to the borders of Iran and Afghanistan in the south.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a historical and geographic region that in the 19th and early 20th centuries comprised what is now Middle Asia, Kazakhstan, and the part of Central Asia inhabited by Turkic nationalities. Turkestan was conventionally divided into western, or Russian, Turkestan (southern Kazakhstan and the Central Asian possessions of Russia); eastern, or Chinese, Turkestan (part of the Chinese province of Hsinchiang); and Afghan Turkestan (northern Afghanistan).

In 1867 the governor-generalship of Turkestan was formed in western Turkestan, which had been annexed by Russia; in 1886 it became officially known as Turkestan Krai. After the Great October Socialist Revolution, the Turkestan Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was formed in western Turkestan in April 1918. After the national-state demarcation of the Soviet republics of Middle Asia in 1924 and 1925, the term “Turkestan” fell into disuse and was superseded by the term “Middle Asia.”


Rossiia: Polnoe geografich. opisanie nashego otechestva, vol. 19: Turkestanskii krai. St. Petersburg, 1913.



a city and administrative center of Turkestan Raion (under oblast jurisdiction), Chimkent Oblast, Kazakh SSR. Railroad station on the Kyzyl-Orda-Tashkent line. Population, 59,000 (1975).

Turkestan is one of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan. In the 10th century it was called Shavgar, and later Yasy; the present name has been used since the 15th century. As a religious center, the city was known as Hazrat. In 1864, Turkestan was annexed by Russia and became part of Chimkent District and, in 1867, part of Syr Darya Oblast. In 1932 it was made part of Iuzhnyi Kazakhstan Oblast, and since 1962 it has been part of Chimkent Oblast. Turkestan has cotton-ginning and building-materials plants and a plant for the production of antibiotics for animal feed. The city has medical and pedagogical schools and an industrial teachers’ technicum.

Turkestan is the site of the mausoleum-mosque complex of Hodzha Akhmed Iasavi—a landmark of Central Asian architecture dating from the late 14th century. The complex consists of an enormous rectangular building with a heavy, arched portal flanked by two towers, a ceremonial hall (the kazanlyk), a mausoleum, a mosque, a library, and other structures. The domes are decorated with glazed turquoise brick and the facades with Kufic inscriptions. The interiors are adorned with tiles, stalactite decorations, and paintings.


Alaev, O. “Pochemu eto mesto sviatoe?” Nauka i religiia, 1973, no. 9.
Masson, M. E. Mavzolei Khodzha Akhmeda Iasevi. Tashkent, 1930.



a mountain range of the Gissar-Alai system in Middle Asia. The Turkestan Range extends from the Matcha mountain plexus in the east, adjoining the Alai Range, to the Samarkand Oasis in the west, a distance of 340 km. The lower ridges of the range define the southern edge of the Golodnaia Steppe and the western Fergana Valley. Elevations range to 5,509 m (5,621 m in the easternmost part). The Turkestan Range is composed primarily of schists and sandstones; its crest has mountain glacier forms, and the eastern part of the range is glacier-covered. The southern slope is bare rock, with talus and mountain steppe. Juniper forests and thin forests are found on the northern slope. The Leninabad-Dushanbe highway crosses the Shakhristan Pass at an elevation of 3,378 m.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


, Turkistan
an extensive region of central Asia between Siberia in the north and Tibet, India, Afghanistan, and Iran in the south: formerly divided into West (Russian) Turkestan (also called Soviet Central Asia), comprising present-day Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan and the S part of Kazakhstan, and East (Chinese) Turkestan consisting of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005