Kulma Pass

The Kulma Pass[1] (Tajik: Перевал Кульма,[2] Chinese: 阔勒买山口) or Qolma Pass,[3] also referred to as Karasu Pass,[4] is a mountain pass across the Pamir Mountains on the border between Murghob District, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region in Tajikistan and Taxkorgan Tajik Autonomous County, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China. Asian Highway AH66 runs through the pass, which provides for the only modern day overland border crossing along the 450 km boundary between the two nations.[5]

Kulma Pass
Kulma Pass is located in Tajikistan
Kulma Pass
Kulma Pass is located in Xinjiang
Kulma Pass
Elevation4,362.7 m (14,313 ft)
LocationChinaTajikistan border
RangePamir Mountains
Coordinates38°08′58″N 74°48′05″E / 38.1494°N 74.8014°E / 38.1494; 74.8014Coordinates: 38°08′58″N 74°48′05″E / 38.1494°N 74.8014°E / 38.1494; 74.8014
Kulma Pass
Traditional Chinese闊勒買山口
Simplified Chinese阔勒买山口
Literal meaningKulma Pass
Alternative Chinese name
Traditional Chinese卡拉蘇口岸
Simplified Chinese卡拉苏口岸
Literal meaningKarasu Port

The pass has an elevation of 4,362.7 metres (14,313 ft)[6] and opens from the north to the southeast, and is 500 m wide from north to south and 1 km in length from east to west with a gentle incline not exceeding 20 degrees. On the Tajik side, the pass is 80 km by road to Murghab and about 850 km to Dushanbe. On the Chinese side, the pass is 13.9 km from Karasu (卡拉苏口岸), a port of entry on the Karakorum Highway which leads to Tashkurgan (60–70 km) and Kashgar (220 km). The pass is open from the 16th to the 30th day of each month from May to November.

Map including the Kulma Pass area; from the International Map of the World (AMS, 1966)[a]
Map including the Kulma Pass area (1988)

The pass was closed for many years due to political tensions between the Soviet Union and China, and then the Tajikistani Civil War. In 1997, China and Tajikistan signed an agreement to develop a commercial corridor between the two countries through the pass. The opening of the pass reduced cargo travel time between the two countries by ten to fifteen days, obviating lengthy detours into Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.

Karasu Port of EntryEdit

The Karasu Port of Entry opened on May 25, 2004, and traffic volume grew considerably. In the first three months after the pass opened, an official tally by the Tajik Ministry of Traffic and Roads counted legal crossings of just 17 trucks, 10 buses, 240 tons of cargo, and 171 people over a three-month period. Unofficial transits are believed to be more common, as many locals lack passports needed to cross the pass legally.[7]

From May to August 2006, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce registered 649 cargo shipments totaling 11,218.5 metric tons of goods.[8] In the same three months the following year, traffic volume reached 1,836 cargo shipments and 30,556 metric tons.[9] In all, travelers made 12,500 trips through the pass in 2007 transporting 56,300 metric tons of goods worth US$250 million. Commonly traded goods include automobiles, construction materials, machinery, electronics, furniture, eggs, and rice.

In 2013, 31,000 tons of goods were shipped through the Kulma Pass and processed at the Karasu Border Crossing.[10]

The bilateral agreement signed between China and Tajikistan includes the opening of the pass for nationals of all countries. After an initial period where foreigners were still turned back, since 2017, foreign travelers have been passing regularly and without extra problems. [11][3]

See alsoEdit




  1. ^ "State border of the Republic of Tajikistan with the People's Republic of China". Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan. 1 March 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2020. “Kulma” pass is the only international passage through the border between the Republic of Tajikistan and the People’s Republic of China
  2. ^ Таджикско-китайская Государственная граница. Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan (in Tajik). 1 March 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2020. Перевал Кульма является единственным международным коридором через границу между Республикой Таджикистан и Китайской Народной Республикой,
  3. ^ a b "Qolma Pass". caravanistan.com. Retrieved 2015-11-11.
  4. ^ Rumer, Eugene B.; Trenin, Dmitri; Zhao, Huasheng (2016). Central Asia: Views from Washington, Moscow, and Beijing. Routledge. p. 183. ISBN 9781315289519. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  5. ^ 赵春晖 (2006-12-24). "中塔卡拉苏口岸进入"冬歇期" 明年5月恢复通关". news.xinhuanet.com (in Chinese). Xinhua News Agency. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  6. ^ 中华人民共和国和塔吉克斯坦共和国关于中塔国界的补充协定  [China-Tajikistan Border Agreement] (in Chinese). 2002-05-17 – via Wikisource. 该界点在4362米阔勒买大坂(原苏联地图为4362.7米库利玛山口)上
  7. ^ Townsend, Jacob (June 2005). "China and Afghan Opiates: China and Afghan Opiates: Assessing the Risk" (PDF). Silk Road Paper. Institute for Security and Development Policy. pp. 48–54. Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  8. ^ 木合塔尔 (2006-09-04). "卡拉苏口岸过货量提前突破万吨关". xinjiang.mofcom.gov.cn (in Chinese). Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  9. ^ 令治清 (2007-09-20). "喀什:卡拉苏口岸过货量突破三万吨". chinawuliu.com.cn (in Chinese). China Federation of Logistics & Purchasing. Archived from the original on 2011-09-01. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  10. ^ 李晓玲, 唐乾清 (2014-04-21). "中塔唯一口岸卡拉苏口岸正式开关". finance.people.com.cn (in Chinese). People's Daily. Retrieved 2017-02-05.
  11. ^ "Qolma pass (from China) - report". caravanistan.com. Retrieved November 11, 2015.