Hexi Corridor, also known as Gansu Corridor, refers to the historical route in Gansu province of Northwest China. As part of the Northern Silk Road running northwest from the bank of the Yellow River, it was the most important route from North China to the Tarim Basin and Central Asia for traders and the military.
Hexi Corridor is a string of oases along the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. To the south is the high and desolate Tibetan Plateau and to the north, the Gobi Desert and the grasslands of Outer Mongolia. At the west end the route splits in three, going either north of the Tian Shan or south on either side of the Tarim Basin. At the east end are mountains around Lanzhou before one reaches the Wei River valley and China proper.
Features of Hexi Corridor
The Hexi Corridor is a long, narrow passage stretching for some 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) from the steep Wushaolin hillside near the modern city ofLanzhou to the Jade Gate at the border of Gansu and Xinjiang. There are many fertile oases along the path, watered by rivers flowing from theQilian Mountains, such as the Shiyang, Jinchuan, Ejin (Heihe), and Shule Rivers.
A strikingly inhospitable environment surrounds this chain of oases: the snow-capped Qilian Mountains ("Nanshan") to the south; the Beishanmountainous area, the Alashan Plateau, and the vast expanse of the Gobi desert to the north. Geologically, the Hexi Corridor belongs to a Cenozoicforeland basin system on the northeast margin of the Tibetan Plateau.
The ancient trackway formerly passed through Haidong, Xining and the environs of Juyan Lake, serving an effective area of about 215,000 km2(83,000 sq mi). It was an area where mountain and desert limited caravan traffic to a narrow trackway, where relatively small fortifications could control passing traffic.
There are several major cities along the Hexi Corridor. In western Gansu Province is Dunhuang (Shazhou), then Yumen, then Jiayuguan, then Jiuquan(Suzhou), then Zhangye (Ganzhou) in the center, then Jinchang, then Wuwei (Liangzhou) and finally Lanzhou in the southeast. In the past, Dunhuang was part of the area known as the Western Regions. South of Gansu Province, in the middle just over the provincial boundary, lies the city ofXining, the capital of Qinghai Province. Xining was the chief commercial hub of the Hexi Corridor.
The Jiyaguyan fort guards the western entrance to China. It's located in Jiayuguan pass at the narrowest point of the Hexi Corridor, some 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) southwest of the city of Jiayuguan. The Jiyaguyan fort is the first fortification of Great Wall of China in the west.
History of Hexi Corridor
As early as the 1st millennium BCE, silk goods began appearing in Siberia, having traveled over the Northern branch of the Silk Road, including the Hexi Corridor segment.At the end of the Qin dynasty (221-206 BCE), the Yuezhi overcame previous settlers, the Wusun and Qiang, occupying the western Hexi Corridor. Later,Northern Xiongnu armies vanquished the Yuezhi and established dominance here during the early Han dynasty.