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Related to Turkistan: Turkestan Desert, Xinjiang, East Turkistan




(both: tûrk'ĭstăn`, –stän`), 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. Eastern, or Chinese, Turkistan comprised the western provinces of China, now the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous RegionXinjiang
or Sinkiang
[Chinese,=new frontier], officially Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (Mandarin Xinjiang Uygur Zizhiqu), autonomous region (2010 pop. 21,813,334), c.637,000 sq mi (1,650,257 sq km), NW China.
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. Southern, or Afghan, Turkistan referred to a small area of N Afghanistan. Politically, what was formerly called Russian Turkistan and Soviet Central Asia includes the nations of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan and the southern portion of Kazakhstan. Much of the western part of this region is composed of two deserts, the Kara KumKara Kum
, two deserts, one in Kazakhstan and one in Turkmenistan. The Caspian Kara Kum or Garagum, the larger desert (c.115,000 sq mi/297,900 sq km), is W of the Amu Darya River and includes most of Turkmenistan. The Murghab and Tejen rivers flow out of the Hindu Kush Mts.
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 and the Kyzyl KumKyzyl Kum
or Kizil Kum
[Turk.,=red sand], desert, c.115,000 sq mi (297,900 sq km), in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. This vast region SE of the Aral Sea between the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers consists mainly of rocky areas covered by sparse vegetation and shifting sand
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. The eastern part, rough and hilly, rises to include the mountains of part of the PamirPamir
or Pamirs,
mountainous region of central Asia, located mainly in Tajikistan and extending into NE Afghanistan and SW Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China; called the "roof of the world.
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 highland and of the Tian ShanTian Shan
or Tien Shan
[Chin.,=celestial mountains], mountain system of central Asia, extending c.1,500 mi (2,410 km) from the Pamir Mts., Tajikistan, NE through the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, NW China, to the China-Mongolia border; Pobeda Peak (24,406 ft/7,439
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 system. Athwart the eastern section extends the Fergana ValleyFergana Valley
or Ferghana Valley,
region, 8,494 sq mi (22,000 sq km), Central Asia, divided among Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The Fergana Range (part of the Tian Shan system) rises in the northeast and the Pamir in the south.
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, one of Asia's most fertile regions.


Turkistan is Persian for "land of the Turks," but although most of the population speak Turkic languages, the region is not the oldest known home of the Turks, nor do the majority of the Turkish peoples dwell there. Turkistan may be regarded as a single region, however, because a combination of geographical and historical factors made it the bridge linking the Eastern and Western worlds and the route taken by many of the great conquerors and migrating peoples. Turkistan, as the focus of trade between Europe and Asia, had great wealth and large cities (notably BukharaBukhara
, city (1991 pop. 231,000), capital of Bukhara region, Uzbekistan, in the Zeravshan River valley. On the Shkhrud irrigation canal system, it is the center of a large cotton district and has textile mills as well as cotton-ginning industries and a large karakul skin
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, SamarkandSamarkand
, city (1991 pop. 395,000), capital of Samarkand region, in Uzbekistan, on the Trans-Caspian RR. It is one of the oldest existing cities in the world and the oldest of Central Asia.
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, and MervMerv
, ancient city, in Turkmenistan, in a large oasis of the Kara Kum desert, on the Murgab River. The city, known in antiquity as Margiana, or Antiochia Margiana, was founded in the 3d cent. B.C. on the site of an earlier settlement. Its periods of greatness were from A.D.
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) that could be plundered.

Perhaps the earliest empire to bring Turkistan under its sway was that of the Persians, who by 500 B.C. had cleared the Lydian empire from the region around the Caspian Sea. Persia was destroyed by the march of Alexander the Great through S Turkistan, the ancient Bactria, which was colonized by Greeks after his victories. After Alexander's death, Turkistan fell to Seleucus; but by the middle of the 2d cent. B.C. it was divided between Parthia in the west and Bactria in the east. Parthia expanded eastward at Bactria's expense. Bactria around 130 B.C. was bordered on the E by China, which controlled (from the 2d cent. B.C. to the 2d cent. A.D.) much of the area extending from Lake Balkash S to the Hindu Kush. In the late 1st cent. A.D., the Kushans took Bactria's holdings, and the Huns were disputing the region near Lake Balkash with China.

China's conquest of E Turkistan, meanwhile, opened the way for Chinese travel through Turkistan to India and permitted the introduction of Buddhism in oases along the trade routes in an attempt to convert the warlike nomads to a pacifist philosophy. With the fall (220) of the Han dynasty, however, China lost control of E Turkistan to Persia, which ruled the region between the 3d and 4th cent. and introduced ZoroastrianismZoroastrianism
, religion founded by Zoroaster, but with many later accretions. Scriptures

Zoroastrianism's scriptures are the Avesta or the Zend Avesta [Pahlavi avesta=law, zend=commentary].
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. When China reestablished control there in the middle of the 7th cent., it came into contact with Persia, which, under the Sassanids, occupied nearly all the rest of Turkistan except the central zone.

The Persian holdings were swept away by the Arab invasion of the 8th cent.; first the Umayyad and then the Abbasid caliphate held all of Turkistan. Zoroastrianism was suppressed, and Islam, which today remains the chief religion of Turkistan, was imposed. The Abbasid caliphate weakened in the middle of the 9th cent.; at the same time, China lost its holdings in the east, and many states, notably KhwarazmKhwarazm
or Khorezm
, ancient and medieval state of central Asia, situated in and around the basin of the lower Amu Darya River; now a region, NW Uzbekistan. Khwarazm is one of the oldest centers of civilization in central Asia.
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 (Khorezm), occupied parts of Turkistan.

The Seljuk Turks began moving into the region from the 8th cent. Their language was adopted by most of the peoples there (with the notable exception of the Tajiks), but the Turks themselves tended to adopt the Iranian culture, which in fact was the dominant culture of Turkistan until the 20th cent. All of Turkistan fell to the Mongols in the late 13th cent., and the territory was mostly bestowed upon the khan JagataiJagatai
, d. 1242, Mongol conqueror; son of Jenghiz Khan. He led large armies on his father's campaigns of conquest. When the empire was divided in 1227 among Jenghiz Khan's three living sons and a grandson, Jagatai was rewarded with vast territories that correspond to
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. TimurTimur
or Tamerlane
, c.1336–1405, Mongol conqueror, b. Kesh, near Samarkand. He is also called Timur Leng [Timur the lame]. He was the son of a tribal leader, and he claimed (apparently for the first time in 1370) to be a descendant of Jenghiz Khan.
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 conquered Turkistan in the late 14th cent., pushing the Mongols into the steppes of Kazakhstan. After Timur's death (1405), his successors, the TimuridsTimurids
, dynasty founded by Timur (or Tamerlane). After the death of Timur (1405) there was a struggle for power over his empire, which then extended from the Euphrates River to the Jaxartes (Syr Darya) and Indus rivers.
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, controlled much of the territory for about a century. The later internal history of Turkistan is mainly one of prolonged struggle involving the khanates of Khiva, Bukhara, and Kokand and the nomadic peoples of the region, most notably Kyrgyz, Kazakhs, Turkmens, and Uzbeks.

In the late 17th and early 18th cent., the vigorous young Ch'ing dynasty of China controlled E Turkistan, but it gradually lost more and more territory to Russia, whose troops invaded the khanate of Kokand in 1865 and took Tashkent. A military administration under a Russian governor-general was established in 1867 in the conquered territories. In 1868 the emir of Bukhara and the khan of Khiva were forced to accept a Russian protectorate. An Anglo-Russian treaty of 1881 designated the southern limits of Russian rule in the area. Harsh Russian administration sparked frequent native revolts, but they were suppressed.

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, the Turkistan Autonomous Soviet Republic (1918) and the Bukhara and Khorezm soviet republics (1920) were set up in the region. However, in 1924 the southern part of Russian Turkistan was divided along geographical and ethnic lines into new divisions—the Uzbek SSR (now Uzbekistan), the Turkmen SSR (now Turkmenistan), the Tadzhik SSR (a union republic as of 1929, now Tajikistan), the Kirghiz Autonomous Oblast (made an autonomous republic in 1926 and a union republic in 1936, now Kyrgyzstan), and the Kara-Kalpak Autonomous Oblast (made an autonomous republic in 1932, now the Karakalpakstan RepublicKarakalpak Republic
, autonomous republic (1992 pop. 1,312,000), c.61,000 sq mi (158,000 sq km), W Uzbekistan, on the Amu Darya River. Nukus is the capital. The republic comprises parts of the Ustyurt plateau, the Kyzyl Kum desert, and the Amu Darya delta on the Aral Sea.
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, Uzbekistan); the northern part of Turkistan was included in the Kazakh SSR (now Kazakhstan). During Soviet rule, the term Russian Turkistan was officially replaced with Soviet Central Asia.


, 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
References in periodicals archive ?
The Turkistan Islamic Party, also known as the East Turkistan Islamic Party, is a Chinese separatist movement whose main goal is to establish an independent state in the Xinjiang province in northwestern China.
The al-Watan quoted sources close to the warring sides as saying that differences over how to lead the war against the army caused the infighting between the Islamic al-Turkistan party and Ansar Turkistan.
They demanded greater autonomy in Xinjiang, and aspired to establish a fully independent East Turkistan like the five new Central Asian countries to the PRC's West.
As an ideological event, the Afghan conflict clearly had a powerful effect on those who now seek to create an Islamic state in East Turkistan.
It said one of the six, 46-year-old Nuermaimaiti Maimaitimin, crossed illegally into the unspecified Asian country in 1994 to study how to use a variety of weapons and make bombs, and participated in the establishment of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement in 1997.
Turkistan, who is also the Chairman of the Council's Economic Committee, delivered a speech on this occasion on the roles of the Council in the service of cooperation between Arab countries and Japan, calling for the increase of industrial investments in Arab countries.
Her ability to speak Russian has gained her clients from Turkistan, Kazakhstan and Russia.
China alleged that Pakistani-trained Uighur terrorists from the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) (5) were responsible, while the World Uighur Congress argued that if the attacks were conducted by Uighurs, then it was only because they were brought to despair by "years of repression by the Chinese government" and without any other peaceful way to oppose the government.
Aiming their work primarily at members of the US defense and intelligence communities interested in engaging China on counterterrorism issues, Reed (BAE Systems) and Raschke (Global Defense Technology and Systems) profile the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, a small separatist group arising out of the Uyghur population of Xinjiang.
ANKARA, Jul 5, 2010 (TUR) -- A group from "Eastern Turkistan Platform" protested the incidents which occurred in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region in China in July, 2009.
The fighting in South Waziristan erupted when fighers loyal to Baitullah Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban chief, attacked the followers of Turkistan Bittani, who allied with the government after defecting the Taliban.
Turkistan Bitani, a tribal warlord allied with the government, claimed Taliban militants attacked his men in the Jandola area, just outside the stronghold of Taliban leader Baitulah Mehsud in South Waziristan.