43° 40’ 52”N 87° 19’ 52” E Geographic Center of Asia - The Heart of Asia (亚洲之心) – Xinjiang (新疆), China
A recent article in Southern Weekend Journal (南方周末- June 15, 2006), an influential weekly published in Guangdong China, described life in the “Asian Heart village” located next to the geographic center of Asia near Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province. The article in Chinese can be found at SouthCN.com
We happened to be in Urumqi the week after the publication of this article and arranged for a visit when we had a free afternoon. The GPS distance to this location from downtown Urumqi measured to be about 25 km. Our driver knew exactly where the monument of the “The Heart of Asia” was located and it was an easy 30 minute drive to reach it.
This rather impressive monument marking the geographic center of Asia was completed in the late 1990’s. The center tower measures over 14 meters and the marble circular platform about 60 meters in diameter. Surrounding the center platform are 49 smaller granite monuments about 2 meters tall and each one representing one of the Asian country included in the measurements. The most western country included was Cyprus. Reflecting China’s political perspective, Palestine and Sikkim were regarded as independent countries. A satellite aerial view from 2000 meters provides a good view of the entire area.
Prior to the building of the Asian heart monument park, the exact location for the geographic center was marked by a simple 2-meter tall wooden marker stating “Geographic Center of Asia” (亚洲地理中心) placed in 1992. At that time, there was a village located at the area where the monument now stands called Bao Jia Cao Zi Cun (包家槽子村). The village was relocated by over a km when the monument was build and each household got a new house at the new location. Now the new village is better known as the Heart of Asia (亚心村).
The determination of the geographic center of Asia was done by a team of "experts" from the Xinjiang Geographic Research Institute. Near the main part of the monument there is a granite tablet providing some background on the measurement. The English version, which is full of mistakes, is duly transcribed here (they could have used an English expert also):
Central Measurement of Mainland Geographic of Asia.
Measurement Time: In 1992.
Measurement Unit (Measurement Section): Chinese Section College, Xingjian geographic graduate school.
Measurement personnel: Academician of Chinese section college, Academician of Europe is with Asia section college, Expert the map, Expert the control from a distance with respond, Expert geography information
Measurement basis: The Peng Na cast shadow technical of Asia Map. Modern means of technique science of adoption is with the equipments.
Measurement position: East longititudes 87° 19’ 52” Northern Latitude 43° 40’ 52”
Concrete position: Village BAOJIACAOZI. County YONGFENG. City Urmqi
The proximity of the geographic center of Asia to Urumqi in effect made Urumqi the city in the world furthest from the ocean – ranging from 2400 km to Bay of Bengal to 3000 km to the Artic sea. The nearest confluence point to the Heart Asia, 44N 87E, about 45 km GPS distance away became the 2nd objective of our free afternoon.