The bustling city of Urumqi is the capital of China's westernmost province, Xinjiang. (Photos: Pawel Boguslawski )
For centuries Urumqi has been a stopover for traders, linking China to Europe on the ancient Silk Road. Traders, travellers and tourists are still a presence notably in the city's atmospheric night market.
Xinjiang province is one of China's most ethnically diverse. In Urumqi Han Chinese live alongside people from the mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic group
Urumqi is the economic centre of Xinjiang province. Recent years have witnessed the arrival of shopping centres, tower blocks, department stores and highways.
But development has brought it problems, and Urumqi is now thought to be one of the world's most polluted cities.
Xinjiang has a degree of autonomy from China but there is still a sense of dissatisfaction. An occasionally violent Uighur campaign continues to call for greater independence.
While Urumqi embraces modernity, there is still time for traditional and more relaxing pursuits in the city's public play houses. (Photographs: Pawel Boguslawski)