ILI, one of the principal rivers of Central Asia, in the Russian province of Semiryechensk. The head-stream, called the Tekez, rises at an altitude of 11,600 ft. E. of Lake Issyk-kul, in 82 25' E. and 43 23' N. , on the W. slopes of mount Kash-katur. At first it flows eastward and north-eastward, until, after emerging from the mountains, it meets the Kungez, and then, assuming the name of Hi, it turns westwards and flows between the Trans-Hi Ala-tau mountains on the south and the Borokhoro and Talki ranges on the north for about 300 m. to Iliysk. The valley between 79 30' and 82 E. is 50 m. wide, and the portion above the town of Kulja (Old Kulja) is fertile and populous, Taranchi villages following each other in rapid succession, and the pastures being well stocked with sheep and cattle and horses. At Iliysk the river turns north-west, and after traversing a region of desert and marsh falls by at least seven mouths into the Balkash Lake, the first bifurcation of the delta taking place about 115 m. up the river. But it is only the southern arm of the delta that permanently carries water. The total length of the river is over 900 m. From Old Kulja to New Kulja the Hi is navigable for at most only two and a half months in the year, and even then considerable difficulty is occasioned by the shoals and sandbanks. From New Kulja to Iliysk (280 m.) navigation is easy when the water is high, and practicable even at its lowest for small boats. At Iliysk there is a ferry on the road from Kopal to Vyernyi. The principal tributaries of the Hi are the Kash, Chilik and Charyn. A vast number of streams flow towards it from the mountains on both sides, but most of them are used up by the irrigation canals and never reach their goal. The wealth of coal in the valley is said to be great, and when the Chinese owned the country they worked gold and silver with profit. Fort Hi or Iliysk, a modern Russian establishment, must not be confounded with Hi, the old capital of the Chinese province of the same name. The latter, otherwise known as Hoi-yuan-chen, New Kulja (Gulja), or Manchu Kulja, was formerly a city of 70,000 inhabitants, but now lies completely deserted. Old Kulja, Tatar Kulja or Nin-yuan, is now the principal town of the district. The Chinese district of Hi formerly included the whole of the valley of the Hi river as far as Issyk-kul, but now only its upper part. Its present area is about 27,000 sq. m. and its population probably 70,000. It belongs administratively to the province of Sin-kiang or East Turkestan. (See KULJA.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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