From Manchuria and China it is separated by the border ridge of the plateau - the Great Khingan, while in the south-west it runs up to the foot of the high northern border ridges of the Tibetan plateau - an artificial frontier separating it from east Turkestan and Dzungaria.
On the east the Pamir highlands are fenced off from the East Turkestan lowlands by the double border-ridge of Sarik-kol (the Sarik-kol range and the Murtagh or Kashgar range), which has its eastern foot down in the Tarim basin (4000-4500 ft.) and its western up on the Pamirs at 10,500 to 13,000 ft.
From the East Turkestan lowlands on the north the ascent is very steep, and the passes across both sets of ranges lie at great altitudes; for example, the pass of Sanju-davan in the lower range is 16,325 ft.
The Taranchis from East Turkestan represent about 40 of the population; about 40,000 of them left Kulja when the Russian troops evacuated the territory, and the Chinese government sent some 8000 families from different towns of Kashgaria to take their place.
Along with the desert of Gobi East Turkestan occupies the lower terrace of the great central Asian plateau, which projects from the Himalayas north-east towards the Bering Straits.