The Uyghurs (; (:ʔʊjˈʁʊː); Old Turkic: 10px10px10px10px;〔(Bilge kagan’s Memorial Complex, TÜRIK BITIG )〕 ) are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China, where they are one of 55 officially recognized ethnic minorities.
An estimated 80% of Xinjiang's Uyghurs live in the southwestern portion of the region, the Tarim Basin. Outside Xinjiang, the largest community of Uyghurs in China is in Taoyuan County, in south-central Hunan. Outside of China, significant diasporic communities of Uyghurs exist in the Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, and in Turkey.〔(【引用サイトリンク】title=Ethno-Diplomacy: The Uyghur Hitch in Sino-Turkish Relations )〕 Smaller communities are found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and the United States.
They practice Islam and are a physically diverse ethnic group ranging from Western Eurasian (Europeans, Middle Eastern) to a more mixed race and East Asian appearance.
''Uyghur'' is often pronounced by English speakers, though an acceptable English pronunciation closer to the Uyghur people's pronunciation of it would be .
Several alternate romanizations also appear: ''Uighur, Uygur,'' and ''Uigur''. The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region provincial government recommends that the generic ethnonym , adopted in the early 20th century, be transcribed as "Uyghur".
The meaning of the term ''Uyghur'' is unclear. The Old Turkic inscriptions record a word ''uyɣur'' which was transcribed into Chinese as
*() > ''Huíhé'' () in Tang dynasty annals. Later, in response to an Uyghur request, this was changed to () > ''Huíhú'' () in 788 or 809 as mentioned in the ''Old History of the Five Dynasties''. Modern etymological explanations have ranged from "to follow, accommodate oneself" and "non-rebellious" (from Turk. uy/uð-) to "to wake, rouse, stir" (from oðğur-), none of which is thought satisfactory because the sound shift ð/ḏ > y did not appear to have taken place by this time. The etymology therefore cannot be accurately determined, and historically the groups it denoted were not ethnically fixed, since it denoted a political rather than a tribal identity,〔Hakan Özoğlu, p. 16.〕 or was used originally to refer to just one group among several, the others calling themselves Toquz Oghuz.
The earliest record of an Uyghur tribe is from the Northern Wei (386-534). At that time the ethnonym
*() > ''Gaoche'' (, ) was used, and later, Tiele (). The first use of ''Uyghur'' as a reference to a political nation occurred during the interim period between the First and Second Göktürk Khaganates (630-684).
The term ''Uyghur'' disappeared from historical records in the 15th century but the Bolsheviks reintroduced the term ''Uyghur'' to replace the previously-used Turk or Turki.〔The term ''Turk'' was a generic label used by members of many ethnic groups in Soviet Central Asia. Often the deciding factor for classifying individuals belonging to Turkic nationalities in the Soviet censuses was less what the people called themselves by nationality than what language they claimed as their native tongue. Thus, people who called themselves "Turk" but spoke Uzbek were classified in Soviet censuses as Uzbek by nationality. See Brian D. Silver, "The Ethnic and Language Dimensions in Russian and Soviet Censuses", in Ralph S. Clem, ed., ''Research Guide to the Russian and Soviet Censuses'' (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1986): 70-97.〕〔Ramsey, S. Robert (1987). ''The Languages of China''. Princeton: Princeton University Press, pp. 185–6.〕 In modern usage, Uyghur refers to settled Turkic urban dwellers and farmers of the Tarim Basin who follow traditional Central Asian sedentary practices, as distinguished from nomadic Turkic populations in Central Asia.
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