Tuerke in China

Joshua Project has identified the Tuerke only in China






Largest Religion

Main Language



The Tuerke, who are ethnically and linguistically distinct from all other peoples in the region, were only "discovered" by the Chinese in 1956. Their name is a generic term for all Turkic peoples. They are also known as the Ili Turki, named after their location.


The oral history of the Tuerke states that they migrated from the Ferghana Valley - in today's Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan - about 200 years ago. The Ili Valley has long been a focal point for bandits. The Russians, angered at China's inability to control the border area, invaded Ili in 1871. They returned the region to China in March 1882. In 1962 there were several major China-Soviet military clashes along the Ili River.


Although the Tuerke possess their own set of customs, they are gradually replacing them with those of the Kazaks and Uzbeks. The Tuerke are fond of dancing and telling folk tales. In keeping with Islamic regulations, Tuerke women are required to wear veils; these are not the full face veils worn in the Middle East.


All Tuerke are Sunni Muslims. Although they do not have their own mosques, the Tuerke are faithful in observing Islamic law and prayer times.


The far northwestern part of Xinjiang - which was formerly part of the Eastern Turkestan alliance - was one of the most missionaryneglected regions in China prior to 1949. There are few Christian communities in the area today. Gospel radio programs, aired in the Uzbek, Kazak, and Uygur languages, are the best opportunity the Tuerke have of hearing the gospel in a language they understand.

Profile Source:   Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  

People Name General Tuerke (Too-er-ke)
People Name in Country Tuerke
Population in China 200
World Population 200
Countries 1
Progress Scale 1.1
Least-Reached Yes
Indigenous Yes
Alternate Names Ili Turk, Turk, T'urk
Affinity Bloc Turkic Peoples
People Cluster Turkish
People Name General Tuerke (Too-er-ke)
Ethnic Code MSY41j
People ID 12210
Country China
Region Northeast Asia
Continent Asia
10/40 Window Yes
Persecution Rank 29  (Open Doors top 50 rank, 1 = highest persecution ranking)
Location in Country In 1980 R. F. Hahn reported the existence of at least 30 Tuerke households, numbering approximately 120 people. Another source lists a 1991 population of 200 Tuerke. There are probably also some Tuerke living in Kazakstan. The Tuerke in China live near the city of Yining (formerly called Kuldja) within the Ili Valley in the northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Located 700 kilometers (432 mi.) west of the provincial capital, Yining is predominantly a Kazak and Uzbek town. Ethnic unrest between Xinjiang's Muslim population and the Han Chinese creates a tension in this part of the country. "Chinese appear uneasy here and warn against staying out after dark, when knives are fast and streets unsafe.… The local Kazaks and Uzbeks can be a rough bunch (regularly drunk in the evenings and occasionally involved in street fights) but very friendly towards foreigners, whom they put in a different category from those in authority.".   Source:  Operation China, 2000

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Enthologue Language Map

Ethnolinguistic map from University of Texas or other map

Languages & Dialects on file:  1  (up to 20 largest shown)
Ili Turki (200)
Languages & Dialects (speakers if known) - up to 20 shown
Ili Turki 200
For Primary Language: Ili Turki

Bible Translation Status  (Years)
Translation Need Questionable
Resource Format
None reported  
Primary Religion: Islam

Major Religion Percent
0.00 %
Christianity  (Evangelical 0.00 %)
0.00 %
Ethnic Religions
0.00 %
0.00 %
100.00 %
0.00 %
Other / Small
0.00 %
0.00 %

Christian Segments Percent
0.0 %
0.0 %
0.0 %
Other Christian
0.0 %
0.0 %
Roman Catholic
0.0 %
Photo Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway   Copyrighted ©   Used with permission
Profile Source: Operation China, Paul Hattaway  Copyrighted ©   Used with permission  
Data Sources: Data is compiled from various sources. Read more

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