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Yarkand(yärkănd`), river, c.500 mi (800 km) long, rising in the Karakorum range, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, NW China, and flowing northeast to join with the Aksu to form the Tarim River. The city of Shache (shä`cho͝o`) or Yarkant, forms an oasis at the western end of the Taklimakan desert; it is a trade center. The city, mainly inhabited by Turkic-speaking Muslims, has more than 120 mosques. Marco Polo visited the city in 1271 and in 1275; it was on the important Silk Road between China and Europe. A treaty signed there in 1874 opened the city to trade with India.
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