The Ozbek ethnic group, with a population of 12, 370 (in 2000), mainly lives in compact communities in Yining, Tacheng, Kashgar, Urumqi, Shache, and Yecheng in the Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous Region.
The name Ozbek first originated from the Ozbek Khan, one of the local rulers under the Mongol Empire in the 14th century. In the 15th century, with the breakup of the Mongolia Empire, a number of Ozbek merchants traveled along the Silk Road through Xinjiang to do business in inland areas. Some of them settled in certain cities in Xinjiang and were later named Ozbek.
Most Ozbek people are city dwellers. They mainly engage in trade, education, science, and handcraft industries. A small part of the population, living in southern Xinjiang, is engaged in agriculture.
The Ozbek ethnic group has its own language which belongs to Turki Austronesian of the Altai Phylum. The characters are phonetic words based on the Arabian alphabet. Due to frequent economic exchanges with the local Uigurs and Kazaks, they widely use the Uigur and Kazak languages.
The Ozbeks believe in Islam and its customs. Ozbek dress and cuisine are basically the same as those of the Uigurs and Kazaks.
Wheat and rice are the Ozbek staple food with beef, mutton, chicken, fish, egg, and duck as complements. Pork, wild fowl and animals, and animals which have died of natural causes are refused at the dining table. Milktea is an indispensable drink in the Ozbek people's life, which is made of milk adding into boiled tea with some seasonings, such as salk, butter and pepper.
The traditional Ozbek costume is characterized by its unique small cap. Men and women wear various kinds of small hats, some embroidered, some made of corduroy or black fine fur. Women have mufflers over their hats. Men wear buttonless knee-length robes with embroidered girdles around the waistline. Men's shirts are decorated with colorful designs on fronts and sleeves. They wear leather shoes. Women wear loose pleated one-piece dresses without girdles. They wear embroidered or leather shoes. Most Ozbek women are good at embroidery, and they often embroider on their own clothes and their husband's clothes, handkerchief and shirts.
Ozbeks are adept at song and dance. Their dance is resilient and lively. Most include broad arm movements. Most of their musical instruments are percussion instruments or hand shaken music makers.
Major Ozbek festivals include: its Kaizhai Festival, its Corban Festival, and its Almsgiving Festival.