Taklamakan is one of the biggest deserts in the world. Taklamakan is hot & cold. Like all deserts Taklamakan is very dry, little rain fall, lack of water, lack of animals and lack of plants.
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Dust storm in Taklamakan from space, June 25, 2005
The Taklamakan (also Taklamakan) is a desert of Central Asia, in the Xingjian Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China. It is known as the largest sand-only desert in the world. Some references fancifully state that Taklamakan means "if you go in, you won't come out"; others state that it means "Desert of Death" or "Place of No Return". "Makan" is a Turkic word meaning "place", of Arabic origin: the word may mean something different if treated as original pre-Islamic native Turkic.
It covers an area of 270,000 km² of the Tarim Basin, extending between roughly 78° to 88° E longitude and 37° to 40° N latitude. It is crossed at its northern and at its southern edge by two branches of the Silk Road. The key oasis towns are Kashgar, Yarkand, and Khotan (Hetian) in the South-West, Kuqa and Turfan in the North, and Loulan and Dunhuang in the East.
The White Jade River flows into the Taklamakan, as do the Yarkant He originating in the Kunlun Mountains and the Torkan He from the Tien Shan range.
The archeological treasures found in its sand buried ruins point to Tocharian, early Hellenistic , and Indian/Buddhistic influences. Its treasures and dangers have been vividly described by Aurel Stein, Sven Hedin, Albert von Le Coq, and Paul Pelliot. More recently, Antonio Graceffo crossed the desert and wrote about his experiences.
Numerous mummies, some 4000 years old, have been found in the region. They show the wide range of peoples who have passed through. Many of the mummies appear European and may have been members of the Tocharians, who spoke Tocharian, an Indo-European language.
Later, the Taklamakan was inhabited by Turkic peoples. Starting with the Tang Dynasty, the Chinese periodically extended their control to the oasis cities of the Taklamakan in order to control the important silk route trade across Central Asia. Periods of Chinese rule were interspersed with rule by Turkic and Mongol and Tibetan peoples. The present population consists largely of Turkic Uyghur and Kazakh people in the countryside, while the population of the larger cities is predominantly Han Chinese.