|Name||内蒙古 (nèi měng gǔ) ['inner' 'Mongol' 'ancient']|
|Population||25.012 million (1.82 %) [23rd] comparison table|
|Area||1,200,000 km2 [463,320 mile2] (12.50 %) [3rd]|
|GDP||71,044 (7.10 %) [8th]|
Inner Mongolia is China's third largest region by area. It forms an arid buffer zone between the rest of China and Mongolia and Russia to the north. The Gobi desert is at its heart; to the East it is bounded by the Heilongjiang (Amur) River to the south-east by the Great Wall.
Population is concentrated near the loop of the Yellow River and along the border with the provinces to the south. It is one of China's Autonomous Regions (A.R.) rather than a province to reflect the large numbers of ethnic peoples. Inner Mongolia is also known as Nei Mongol or Nei Monggu (Nei meaning near or inner) to differentiate it from Outer Mongolia which is now the separate nation of Mongolia. Parts of the province, particularly the Ordos ➚ region contained in the bend of the Yellow River have been settled by Chinese people from earliest times. Mongol people form the dominant ethnic group and follow the Lamaist Buddhist religion. The Mongolian language is widely spoken and it is frequently seen written on signage for roads and shops.
Mongolia was the base for Genghis Khan and his vast Mongol Empire. Activity was centered on the Onon River that flows east into the Heilongjiang in the northeast of Mongolia. His grandson Kublai Khan overran the whole of China to form the Mongol dynasty. After the dynasty and the empire fell, Mongolia came back under Chinese rule until the Qing dynasty when both Inner and Outer Mongolia were part of China. Towards the end the Qing dynasty, Russia expanded south and east creating friction over control of Mongolia. In 1924 the Russian Red Army established the Mongolian People's Republic in present day Outer Mongolia and it has remained under Russian domination. Inner Mongolia was a battleground between Russian; Japanese; Chinese and Mongol forces from the decline of the Qing until the formation of the People's Republic. New railways linked it with northern China and many Han Chinese settled in the southern belt.
Hohhot or in better Mandarin Chinese 呼和浩特 Hūhéhàotè is the capital of Inner Mongolia; it is a city 400 years old with many Buddhist temples. Sights to see include the Inner Mongolia museum ➚; Xilitu Zhao ➚ temple; Wutasi ➚ (five pagodas); Dazhao Temple ➚; Wang Zhaojun ➚ tomb and the Great Mosque (reflecting the large Hui/Muslim population). Baotou the largest city, is close by the Yellow River and has industry based around coal and steel. Inner Mongolia has extensive coal deposits, second only to Shanxi province. Wudangzhao (Willow) Monastery ➚ near Baotou is a famous Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. Xanadu (Shandu) the palace of Kublai Khan ➚ made famous by Samuel Taylor Coleridge ➚'s poem is located 199 miles [320 kms] north of Beijing and is just a pile of crumbled mud walls in the desert. The Mausoleum of Genghis Khan ➚ can be seen at Dongsheng (although this is a shrine rather than his burial place which has never been discovered). Wulantuge and Gegentala ➚ grasslands are places where Mongolian nomadic people living in traditional yurts can still be seen. Hexigten Global Geopark ➚ near Chifeng has a granite landscape and hot springs. The Naadam Festival ➚ is a large Mongolian gathering with sports and other activities each year. It is held in July or August at various locations and attracts large crowds. Xilinhot (Abagnar Qi) is a typical Mongolian town set in pasture land.
Inner Mongolia has long cold and dry winters with short, very hot summers. It is particularly arid in the western half. There is a good proportion of ethnic Mongolians and other nationalities (20%), in fact here there are more ethnic Mongols in the province than in the neighboring nation of Mongolia. Industry and agriculture are fairly limited, particularly in the harsher desert regions. Extensive efforts have been made to build a shelter belt of forests to protect the southern regions from the influx of sand from the Gobi desert. The husbandry of grazing animals produces leather; lamb and cashmere. The forests in the far north east provide considerable softwood timber. It remains excellent pasture land and ancient herding traditions are still practiced.
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