Yarkant County[4][5][6], also Shache County[7], also transliterated from Uyghur as Yakan County, is a county in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, located on the southern rim of the Taklamakan Desert in the Tarim Basin. It is one of 11 counties administered under Kashgar Prefecture. The county, usually referred to as Yarkand[8] in English, was the seat of an ancient Buddhist kingdom on the southern branch of the Silk Road and the Yarkand Khanate. The county sits at an altitude of 1,189 metres (3,901 ft) and as of 2003 had a population of 373,492.

The fertile oasis is fed by the Yarkand River which flows north down from the Karakorum mountains and passes through Kunlun Mountains known historically as Congling mountains (lit. 'Onion Mountains' - from the abundance of wild onions found there). The oasis now covers 3,210 square kilometres (1,240 sq mi), but was likely far more extensive before a period of desiccation affected the region from the 3rd century CE onwards.

Today, Yarkant is a predominantly Uyghur settlement. The irrigated oasis farmland produces cotton, wheat, corn, fruits (especially pomegranates, pears and apricots) and walnuts. Yak and sheep graze in the highlands. Mineral deposits include petroleum, natural gas, gold, copper, lead, bauxite, granite and coal.

See also