Yining became the capital of an autonomous district in 1954. In 1962, major Sino-Soviet clashes took place along the Ili River.
Yining is located on the Ili River in the Dzungarian basin, near the border with Kazakhstan, and about 390 km west of Urumqi. The Ili River valley is far wetter than any other part of Xinjiang and has rich grazing land.
Yining is the chief city, agricultural market, and commercial centre of the Ili River valley. It is an old commercial center trading in tea and cattle, and it is still an agricultural area with extensive livestock raising. It has fruit orchards. Iron and coal are mined nearby.
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