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Uighur

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Uighurs (or Uigurs or Uygurs) (Chinese: Weiwur 維吾爾 or 维吾尔 in pinyin: wei2 wu2 er3) are a Turkic ethnic group of people living in northwestern China -- mainly in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where they are the dominant ethnic group together with Chinese Han people -- Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

They were the oldest and one of the most civilized Turkish-speaking peoples living in Central Asia. Renowned as Huihe (回紇 hui2 he2) in Chinese sources, they established a khanate in the 8th century while taking over the power vacuum left by the Gokturks. Huihe and Uighurs are in fact represented the same ethnic group by their close pronounciation and numerous anthropological evidences.

They gained a significant dominance over both China and other Turkic tribes. Eventually overrun by Kirghiz and Mongol armies, they lost their independence around the end of the 12th century and were annexed by several states, the most recent of which is China.

The ancient Uighurs were Manicheans or Buddhists. Later Uighur became synonymous with Buddhist, so it disappeared in Islamicized regions. This name was readopted in the early 20th century.

Famous Uighurs include Wu'er kaixi.

See also: List of Chinese ethnic groups, Uighurstan



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