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I. Geography and natural conditions
Elevation: 7,435---155 meters
There are 68 million hectares of land which can be used for the development of agriculture, forestry, and animal husbandry, accounting for 41.19 percent of Xinjiang’s total area. Of which 9.33 million hectares can be reclaimed, over 4 million hectares are cultivated, 48 million hectares are natural grassland which can be utilized, and 666,700 hectares are man-made pasture. Xinjiang is one of the nation’s five major grazing areas. In addition, there are 4,839,300 hectares of land for forestry (including 1,533,300 hectares of forest with a reserve of 250 million cubic meters of timber).
A total of 122 minerals, including more than 70 non-metal minerals, have been discovered. Xinjiang holds the first place among China’s provinces and autonomous regions in the deposits of beryllium, muscovite, natron saltpeter, pottery clay, and serpentine. The proved reserve of iron is 730 million tons; that of salt, 318 million tons; that of mirabilite, 170 million tons, and that of natron saltpeter, 2,326,000 tons. Xinjiang is known far and near for its muscovite, gemstone, asbestos, and Hetan jade.
Xinjiang has an annual runoff of 88.4 billion cubic meters of the surface water and 25.2 billion cubic meters of exploitable underground water. Glaciers stretch for 24,000 square kilometers and contain 2,580 billion cubic meters of water. There is a long duration of sunshine and the annual sunshine time lasts from 2,600 to 3,400 hours. The predicted reserve of coal in Xinjiang makes up of 37.7 percent of the nation’s predicted total while that of petroleum and natural gas was estimated at 30 billion tons, accounting for more than 25 percent of the national total.
Animals and plants:
There are 699 species of wild animals, including 85 species of fish, 7 species of amphibians, 45 species of reptiles, and 137 species of mammals. More than 4,000 species of wild plants have been proved to grow in Xinjiang, of which more than 1,000 varieties, including bluish dogbane and kok-saghyz, are of special economic value.
In 1999, the annual surface water runoff was 93.41 billion cubic meters, increasing 17.6 percent as compared with the average annual figure for a number of years. The discharge of wastewater was 455 million tons, a decrease of 6.8 percent than that of the previous year. Domestic sewage made up of 62.8 percent of the total discharge of wastewater and the discharge of domestic sewage chemical oxygen demand was 41.2 percent of the total discharge, both slightly increasing over the figures of the previous year.
Monitoring and surveys conducted on 60 key sections of 40 major rivers, seven lakes and reservoirs in Xinjiang showed that the quality of water was good in most of the rivers, lakes, and reservoirs. The quality of water in 92.4 percent of the surveyed 5,195-kilometer river courses reached or was better than the criteria of the class-three surface water environmental requirement, and only 7.6 percent of the length of the said river courses was polluted.
In 1999, the air pollutants in Xinjiang were a mixture of fine sand in the air and smoke from burning coal. There was no marked difference in the degree of pollution as compared with that of the previous year. The source of pollution during the heating season mainly came from smoke dust and the source of pollution out of the heating season mainly was fine sand flying in the air. The principal pollutants were total suspended granules, sulfur dioxide, and nitrogen oxide. There was a worsening tendency in the pollution of nitrogen oxide with the rapid increase of motor vehicles. The volume of discharged smoke dust and industrial dust was 243,900 tons and 120,400 tons, dropping by 4.4 percent and 18.9 percent respectively when compared with the 1998 figures.
The volume of discharged sulfur dioxide was 337,100 tons, virtually remaining the same as that of 1998. The discharge of smoke dust from daily life was 118,500 tons and the discharge of sulfur dioxide from daily life, 139,200 tons. The proportion of the volume of daily-life pollutant discharge in the total pollutant discharge was on the increase when compared with that of 1998. The monitoring of the air quality conducted in 16 cities revealed that the daily value of total suspended granules averaged 0.434 milligrams per cubic meter (0.341 milligrams per cubic meter in the cities in northern Xinjiang and 0.639 milligrams per cubic meter in the cities in southern Xinjiang), an increase of 0.03 milligrams per cubic meter over that of the previous year; that of sulfur dioxide, 0.024 milligrams per cubic meter; and that of nitrogen oxide, 0.036 milligrams per cubic meter, remaining more or less the same when compared with that of the previous year. Urumqi remained as the most serious-polluted city while Karamay was the city with the best air quality. In Urumqi, the average daily value of the total suspended granules was 0.463 milligrams per cubic meter, a drop of 0.039 milligrams per cubic meter as compared with that of the previous year; that of sulfur dioxide, 0.146 milligrams per cubic meter, an increase of 0.042 milligrams per cubic meter as compared with that of the previous year; and that of nitrogen oxide, 0.092 milligrams per cubic meter, an increase of 0.006 milligrams per cubic meter as compared with that of the previous year.
According to the state’s “Control over the Total Volume of Pollutant Discharge” and “Plan of the Trans-Century Greening Project,” by the end of the year 2000, the pollutants discharged from all the industrial pollution sources in Xinjiang are required to meet the national and local standards, the environmental air and underground water environmental quality in different domains should be up to the relevant requirements as stipulated in the state regulations, and the deterioration of the ecosystem (ecocide) along the green corridor in the Tarim River valley should be brought under control. In the above said cities, 189 square kilometers of smoke dust control areas have been set up and 167 square kilometers have reached the requirements of noise control, accounting for 53percent and 47percent of the established urban areas in these cities.