While all efforts have been made to present an accurate account of the status of the Silk Roads in the countries covered, some part of the information provided and the analyses thereof are those of the contributors, and does not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of UNESCO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The contributors are responsible for the choice and representation of the facts contained in this portal and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of UNESCO and do not commit the Organization.


China is considered as the origins of the Silk Roads because, based on different resources, it was the Chinese who discovered the silk and then started to cultivate it for commercial purposes and sent out emissaries to the West, contacts which eventually led to the booming exports of this gossamer product.

Probably the first person who traveled the Silk Roads was the Chinese Zhang Qian that set out for West in the 2nd century BC to seek out allies against the troublesome Huns. After a series of adventures, Zhang returned home 13 years later with rich knowledge about kingdoms and peoples from far away.

Based on historians, the Chinese portion of the Silk Roads which ran for 4,000 kilometers began in Chang'an (Modern city of Xi'an) and was divided into at least two separate routes for avoiding the deadly Taklamakan Desert. They passed then through Kashgar and on to the Central Asia. During more than 2,000 years of trade along the Silk Roads, several cities with commercial, cultural and religious centers were built alongside these routes while local and ethnic cultures flourished and enriched along them.

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The Silk Roads on the Map

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