Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu province, is a regional hub between the eastern and western regions of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The main city is located on the banks of the Yellow River and contained within a narrow east–west valley with steep terrain at both the north and south that effectively constrains further expansion of the city.
Gansu province in 2009 had the second-lowest gross domestic product per capita in the People’s Republic of China. Its Tianshui municipality’s 3.6 million inhabitants included 640,000 urban dwellers in Qinzhou and Maiji districts with an estimated urban poverty rate of 13.5%.
Altay is the northernmost area in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), northwest of the People’s Republic of China, close to Central Asia. The area suffers from a very harsh climate, with subzero temperatures between October and March, annual precipitation of about 180 millimeters, and a high evaporation rate of about 2,000 millimeters.