The vast majority of China’s Kazaks live in Xinjiang, the single largest administrative unit in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Covering a sixth of China, this geographically diverse territory was officially renamed the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region in 1955 in recognition of its single most populous group, the Uyghurs. Second in terms of population are the Kazaks, who began moving into Xinjiang in the eighteenth century, establishing themselves on pastures in the central and northern mountain ranges of the territory. The sedentary Uyghurs traditionally populated the oasis cities, which once served the Silk Road, a trade artery that linked China to the Middle East and Europe for some two thousand years. The differing requirements of the Kazak and Uyghur livelihoods, combined with the varied topography of the Xinjiang region and a relatively sparse population, allowed both nomadic and sedentary peoples to live side by side in relative harmony. Periodically, their shared religious beliefs as well as a shared Turkic heritage drew them together in popularly supported movements against local Chinese administrations. Thus, a key to understanding the history of northwestern China and its Kazak people is Xinjiang’s physical and human geography-the study of which sets the stage for an examination of the Kazaks today and their current relations with the other inhabitants of the vast Xinjiang region.