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With an estimated population of 3.5 million in 2015, Ürümqi is the largest city in China's western interior as well as in Central Asia in terms of population.
Ürümqi was taken by the Qing in 1755, and the Dzungars of the region were eliminated in the Dzungar genocide.The Oirats Dzungar tribes that formed the Dzungar Khanate were the last major power to control Ürümqi before the Manchus gained control of Xinjiang, and their language gave Ürümqi its modern-day name.In the Ming dynasty, there was a record of a place at Jiujiawan 5 kilometres (3 miles) to the west of present Ürümqi, which may have been the Dzunghar town that was later destroyed during the Qing conquest.The Mongolians also used the area as herding ground in this period.Steppe peoples had used the location, the pass between the Bogda Shan to the east and the Tian Shan to the west, connecting the Dzungar Basin to the north and the Turpan Depression to the south.An older settlement named Luntai was located nearby, around 10 kilometres (6 miles) from the southern suburb of present-day Ürümqi.
Luntai was set up by the Tang government during the 22nd year of Emperor Taizong's reign (648 AD) in the ancient town seat of Urabo as part of the Protectorate General to Pacify the West that controlled Xinjiang.
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Ürümqi was a major hub on the Silk Road during China's Tang dynasty, and developed its reputation as a leading cultural and commercial center during Qing dynasty in 19th Century.
Ürümqi remained a small town, and less important than the oasis and Silk Road trade center Turpan 200 km (120 mi) to the southeast.
Fighting for the control of Dzungaria led to the Khoshuuts (now classified as Mongols) leaving Ürümqi for Qinghai and Tibet in the 1620s and 1630s.
It was a seat of local government, and collected taxes from the caravans along the northern route of the Silk Road.