North West China was historically a border region with the beginning of the ancient Silk Road, much desert terrain, and mainly Muslim inhabitants including some nomads and rather fierce tribal groups. It has always had strong Chinese influences, though at times there were also independent kingdoms in the area. Over the past hundred years there has been considerable migration by Han Chinese; they are now the largest ethnic group in most areas. Today it is a rapidly growing region, though still less developed than coastal areas.
| Shaanxi Province |
| [Gansu Province |
| Ningxia Autonomous Region |
| Qinghai Province |
| Xinjiang Autonomous Region (Dzungarian, Tarim)|
- Dunhuang, Gansu, with Buddhist grottoes that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List
- Golmud, Qinghai, jumping off point for many trips to Tibet
- Kashgar, Xinjiang, historic trading center on the Silk Road
- Lanzhou, Gansu, provincial capital
- Turpan, Xinjiang, lowest point in China
- Urumqi, Xinjiang, provincial capital
- Xian, Shaanxi, ancient capital with many cultural relics including the Terracotta Warriors
- Xining, Qinghai, provincial capital
- Yinchuan, Ningxia, provincial capital
According to UNAIDS, 0.5% of Chinese sex workers are infected with HIV. One study reported that 5% of low-cost sex workers were infected. In one part of Yunnan province, the infection rate is estimated to be as high as 7%. The Chinese government has initiated programs to educate sex workers in HIV/AIDS prevention.
Rising HIV/AIDS rates among Chinese's elderly has been partially attributed to the use of sex workers.
China is a huge country that shows a huge regional difference in crime rates but in general it poses no more risk than most western countries. Although you may hear locals complaining about increasing crime rates, violent crime remains rare. Many tourists will more likely feel safer in China than in their home country.
Healthcare for foreigners
Most major Chinese cities have clinics and hospitals that are more appropriate for foreigners, with English speaking and Western qualified staff. Although expensive, it is worth identifying them whenever you plan to stay in an area for a significant time. For non-urgent medical treatment, you may want to consider traveling to Hong Kong, Taiwan or South Korea for a higher standard of treatment which may not be particularly more expensive.
The following emergency telephone numbers work in all areas of China; calling them from a cell phone is free.
- Patrol Police: 110
- Fire Department: 119
- (Government-owned) Ambulance/EMS: 120
- (some areas private-owned) Ambulance: 999
- Traffic Police: 122
- Directory inquiries: 114
- Consumer Protection: 12315
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