Uighurs (or Uigurs or Uygurs) (Chinese: Weiwur 維吾爾 or 维吾尔 in pinyin: wei2 wu2 er3) are a Turkic ethnic group of people living in northwestern China (mainly in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where they are the dominant ethnic group together with Chinese Han people), Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan. The other branch of Uighurs lives in Taoyuan county of Hunan province in Southcentral China. Uighurs form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China.
They were the oldest and one of the most civilized Turkish-speaking peoples living in Central Asia. Renowned as Huihe (回紇 hui2 he2) in Chinese sources, they established a khanate in the 8th century while taking over the power vacuum left by the Gokturks. Huihe and Uighurs are in fact represented as the same ethnic group by their close pronunciation and numerous anthropological evidences.
They eventually gained a significant dominance over both China and other Turkic tribes. Eventually overrun by Kirghiz and Mongol armies, they lost their independence around the end of the 12th century and were annexed by several states, the most recent of which is China.
Since the 10th century, Uighurs are typically Muslims. Before Islam, Uighurs were Manicheans or Buddhists, and were, in fact, not quite Uighur. Today's Uighurs descend from the Turkic tribe as well as the pre-Turkic Indo-European-speaking Tocharians (or Tokharians). Today, one can still see light-skinned, -haired, and -eyed citizenry belonging the Uighur ethnic group.
Famous Uighurs include Wu'er kaixi.