Kazakhs

Kazakhs are part of a large population of Kazakhstan in Central Asia. They are descendants of Turkic tribes merged together with some other elements. They were ancient inhabitants of the northern parts of Central Asia, Altai mountain area and Ili river valley of Northwest China. When the People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949, Kazakhs who were living in the Chinese part of the territory remained there and became a minority ethnic group of Chinese citizenship. Islam reached Kazakhs through two ways. During the 8th century, Arabs came to Central Asia where Kazakhs had been living and spread Islam among them. Further, under rule of Samanid Dynasty, Islam was forcefully introduced to Kazak communities. This was mainly due to a great number of them converting to Islam in areas surrounding Taraz. The Kazakhs speak Kazakh language, a member of Turkic language family that uses Arabic alphabets. Today,large communities of Kazakhs live in Kazakhstan.  There are also communities in Russia and Mongolia.  In China, the Kazakhs live in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous District in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.  There are three Autonomous counties in different places named after their ethnicity, Aksai Kazakh Autonomous County in Gansu, Barkol Kazakh Autonomous County and Mori Kazakh Autonomous County in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. The estimated number of Kazakhs in China is 1.4 million (1.25 million in census of year 2000 and 1.3521 million estimated in 2003).