The grasslands of Inner Mongolia. PHOTO BY YIXUAN SHUKE.

Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, or Nei Monggol, is one of five such regions in China with a large percentage of ethnic minorities, and the first to be established (in 1947), predating the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. It is slightly smaller than South Africa in area and is dominated by vast grasslands.

Bordering on the Mongolian People’s Republic and Russia to the north, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, or Nei Monggol, is China’s northern frontier. It was the first Autonomous Region (a region with a large percentage of ethnic minorities) to be established, in 1947, predating the People’s Republic of China by two years. It is an oblong strip of land, extending from northeast to southwest, with an area of 1.2 million square kilometers (463, 423 square miles). Internally, it borders on Gansu, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang provinces. It is home to the Mongolian, Han, Hui, Manchu, Daur, and Ewenki peoples.

Inner Mongolia, with a temperate continental monsoonal climate, has cold, long winters with frequent blizzards and warm, short summers. With its vast stretches of grasslands, it is a major stockbreeding center known for its Sanhe horses, Sanhe oxen, and fine wool sheep. Daxinganling Forest, in Inner Mongolia’s northeast sector, makes up one-sixth of China’s total forest reserve. Apart from wheat, naked oats, millet, sorghum, maize, and rice, a wide range of cash crops is grown, including soybeans, linseed, rapeseed (canola), castor oil plants, and sugar beets. Inner Mongolia holds first place in the country in rare earth metals and niobium and natural soda reserves and second place in coal reserves.

Huhehaote (Hohhot), the capital of Inner Mongolia, is an ancient city located north of the Great Wall. Baotou, another major city in the region, is one of China’s major iron- and steel-producing centers.

Many changes are afoot in the largely pastoral region as traditional ways of life such as herding are encroached upon by the rapid modernization of China in recent years.

Further Reading

Kirk, M. (Ed.). (2009). China by numbers 2009. Hong Kong: China Economic Review Publishing.

Mackerras, C. (1994). China’s minorities: Integration and modernization in the twentieth century. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press.

Williams, D. M. (2002). Beyond Great Walls: Environment, identity, and development on the Chinese grasslands of Inner Mongolia. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

System of ethnic regional autonomy (2007). China Facts and Figures 2007. Retrieved May 27, 2008, from http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/china/238536.htm

Source: Bai, Di. (2009). Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. In Linsun Cheng, et al. (Eds.), Berkshire Encyclopedia of China, pp. 1166–1167. Great Barrington, MA: Berkshire Publishing.

Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (Nèim?ngg? ???)|Nèim?ngg? ??? (Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region)

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