Where is the Center of Asia? The controversy and the answer.

Center of Asia: The Furthest Point from Any Ocean

April 23 | 4 Comments

 

Go where no ocean has ever gone before. Explore the Center of Asia.

Xinjiang is known for some crazy things, but only one odd fact has landed the Chinese province in the Guinness Book of World Records: Xinjiang, China is home to the geographic center of Asia. It’s the point furthest from the sea than anywhere else in the world.

Think about that for a moment. Xinjiang – a land that China is investing millions over the next decade to become an Asian trade hub – is further from a sea port than any other location in the world.

To commemorate this achievement, a monument park has been erected 25 kilometers southeast of the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi. Two questions come to mind:

 1. Is it really the center of Asia?
2. Is it worth a visit?

The Center of Asia monument near Urumqi, Xinjiang

Photo credit: Confluence.org

Where EXACTLY is the Center of Asia?

Map of the center of Asia in XinjiangThe exact geographic center of Asia has been debated for quite some time, but somehow Chinese cartographers conveniently decided that it should be located not far from Urumqi where they quickly built a tourist attraction.

The official coordinates, as officially measured by the Chinese in 1992, is 43° 40′ 50″ North, 87° 19′ 52″ East.

Translated into English: about 30 minutes by car from Urumqi.

Of course, such a prestigious title like “Center of Asia” doesn’t come without contest. Kyzyl, in Russia, also claims to be the center of Asia.

Funny little fact: prior to the building of this monument park by the Chinese government in the late 1990’s, the geographic location was marked only by a 2 meter tall wooden stake.

In order to construct the monument park, the village that was originally situated on the land was actually relocated a kilometer away. Each house was torn down and a new one was constructed just for the sake of this geographic measurement!

Monument at Xinjiang's Geographic Center of Asia

Visiting the Centre of Asia

Have you taken a picture standing over an imaginary line between two countries? Are you a sucker for things like the Four Corners Monument in the United States?

If that’s you, you might enjoy visiting the Center of Asia monument park!

Most people stop here on their way down to NanShan, the beautiful grasslands south of Urumqi. It’s not far off the G216 highway and you won’t be able to miss the funky gate that welcomes you as you enter.


Beautiful entry gate for Xinjiang's geographic Center of Asia.

The wing-like entrance gate to the Center of Asia

Once you enter, though, don’t expect too much more than a simple monument pointing to a specific spot. That’s it.

Here you can take your picture next to (or under!) a 22-meter high fixture with a golden globe on top. The circle surrounding the tower boasts a relief of all Asian flags as well as a map of the Asian continent.

If you have the extra time, make the quick stop. At the very least it will be one of those things where you can say to your friends and family when you get home “I stood in the center of Asia!” Not many people can say that, you know.

Every Asian country represented at the Center of Asia in Xinjiang

Each country of Asia represented. Photo by Confluence.org

Travel Tips to the Center of Asia

The most simple way to get to the Center of Asia monument is by taxi car or with a tour group. Costs will vary based on the season, but most often this trip will be combined with a visit to NanShan or Urumqi’s Number 1 Glacier.

  • Entrance Fee: 30 RMB
  • Chinese Name: 亚洲大陆地理中心 (Yàzhōu dàlùdì lĭzhōngxīn)
  • Best Time to Visit: If you happen to be in the area in August, check around to see if the annual parachuting event is happening (usually mid-August). It might be worth hanging around to soak in the festivities!

Parachute festival at Xinjiang's Center of Asia Monument

About Josh Summers

Josh is a writer, musician and entrepreneur who currently resides in Urumqi, capital of China's western province of Xinjiang. He has been traveling and writing about this region since 2006 and has no plans to stop in the near future.

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Leave a Comment

  1. Technically, the CENTER of ASIA will not be the farthest point from the oceans. The latter will have to be the CENTER of EURASIA. That point would be necessarily be to the west of the former and could well lie within Kazakhstan. Suggest Kazakhstan determine that point and erect something there which would then become another tourist attraction.

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  2. It is a desert landscape so that would fit into it being the center of Asia.

    ****Just b/c it is far away from water doesn’t mean that it can’t be a trading hub. Don’t forget the silk road.

    [Reply]




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