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Inner Mongolia (Mongolian: , Öbür mong ul; ; officially romanized to Nei Mongol) is a Mongol autonomous region of the People's Republic of Chinamarker, located in the country's north.

Inner Mongolia borders, from east to west, the provinces of Heilongjiangmarker, Jilinmarker, Liaoningmarker, Hebeimarker, Shanximarker, Shaanximarker, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Gansumarker, while to the north it borders Mongoliamarker and Russiamarker. It is the third-largest subdivision of China spanning about 1,200,000 km² (463,000 sq mi) or 12% of China's land area. It has a population of about 24 million as of 2004. The capital is Hohhotmarker.

The autonomous region was established in 1947. The majority of the population in the region are Han Chinese, with a substantial Mongol minority. The official languages are Standard Mandarin and Mongolian, the latter written in the classical alphabet.


In Chinese, the region is known as "Inner Mongolia", where the terms of "Inner/Outer" are derived from Manchu dorgi/tulergi. Inner Mongolia is distinct from Outer Mongolia, which was a term used by the Republic of Chinamarker and previous governments to refer to what is now the independent state of Mongoliamarker plus the Republic of Tuvamarker in Russiamarker.In Mongolian, the region is known as öbör mongγol where öbör can mean south, inner, front, bosom, breast. This is probably related to traditional Mongolian and Manchu world view where south is regarded as front, right as west, left as east and north as back. Some Mongolians use the name "Southern Mongolia" in English as well.


Throughout most of history and time, central and western Inner Mongolia, especially the Hetao region, alternated in control between Chinese agriculturalists in the south and Xiongnu, Xianbei, Khitan, Jurchen, Tujue, and Mongol nomads of the north. Eastern Inner Mongolia is properly speaking a part of Manchuria, and its historical narrative consists more of alternations between different groups there rather than the struggle between nomads and Chinese agriculturalists.

During the Zhou Dynasty, central and western Inner Mongolia (the Hetao region and surrounding areas) were inhabited by nomadic peoples such as the Loufan, Linhu, and , while eastern Inner Mongolia was inhabited by the Donghu. During the Warring States Period, King Wuling (340–295 BC) of the state of Zhao based in what is now Hebeimarker and Shanximarker provinces pursued an expansionist policy towards the region. After destroying the state of Zhongshan in what is now Hebei province, he defeated the Linhu and Loufan and created the commandery of Yunzhongmarker near modern Hohhotmarker. King Wuling of Zhao also built a long wall stretching through the Hetao region. After Qin Shihuang created the first unified Chinese empire in 221 BC, he sent the general Meng Tian to drive the Xiongnu from the region, and incorporated the old Zhao wall into the Qin Dynasty Great Wall of China. He also maintained two commanderies in the region: Jiuyuan and Yunzhong, and moved 30,000 households there to solidify the region. After the Qin Dynasty collapsed in 206 BC, these efforts were abandoned.

During the Western Han Dynasty, Emperor Wu sent the general Wei Qing to reconquer the Hetao region from the Xiongnu in 127 BC. After the conquest, Emperor Wu continued the policy of building settlements in Hetao to defend against the Xiong-Nu. In that same year he established the commanderies of Shuofang and Wuyuan in Hetao. At the same time, what is now eastern Inner Mongolia was controlled by the Xianbei, who would later on eclipse the Xiongnu in power and influence.

During the Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD), Xiongnu who surrendered to the Han Dynasty began to be settled in Hetao, and intermingled with the Han immigrants in the area. Later on during the Western Jin Dynasty, it was a Xiongnu noble from Hetao, Liu Yuan, who established the Han Zhao kingdom in the region, thereby beginning the Sixteen Kingdoms period that saw the disintegration of northern China under a variety of Han and non-Han (including Xiongnu and Xianbei) regimes.

The Sui Dynasty (581–618) and Tang Dynasty (618–907) re-established a unified Chinese empire, and like their predecessors they conquered and settled people into Hetao, though once again these efforts were aborted when the Tang empire began to collapse. Hetao (along with the rest of what now consists Inner Mongolia) was then taken over by the Khitan Empire (Liao Dynasty), founded by the Khitans, a nomadic people originally from what is now the southern part of Manchuria and eastern Inner Mongolia. They were followed by the Western Xia of the Tanguts, who took control of what is now the western part of Inner Mongolia (including western Hetao). The Khitans were later replaced by the Jurchens, precursors to the modern Manchus, who established the Jin Dynasty over Manchuria and northern China.

Inner Mongolian desert

After Genghis Khan unified the Mongol tribes in 1206 and founded the Mongol Empire, the Tangut Western Xia empire was ultimately conquered in 1227, and the Jurchen Jin Dynasty fell in 1234. In 1271, Genghis grandson Khubilai established the Yuan Dynastymarker. Khubilai's summer capital Shangdumarker (a.k.a Xanadu) was located near present-day Dolonnor. During that time Ongud and Khunggirad peoples dominated the area of Inner Mongolia. After the Yuan Dynasty was evicted by the Han-led Ming Dynastymarker in 1368, the Ming rebuilt the Great Wall of China at its present location, which roughly follows the southern border of the modern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (though it deviates significantly at the Hebei-Inner Mongolia border). The Ming established the Three Guards comprised of the Mongols there. After the Tumu incident in 1450, Mongols flooded south from Northern Mongolia to Southern Mongolia. Thus from then on until 1635, Inner Mongolia was the center of the Northern Yuan Dynasty.

The Manchus gained control of the Inner Mongolian tribes in the early 17th century, then invaded Ming Dynasty in 1644, bringing it under the control of their Qing Dynastymarker. Under the Manchu Qing dynastymarker (1644–1912), Mongolia was administered in a different way for each region:

  • "Outer Mongolia": The four leagues (aimag) of the Khalkha Mongols in northern and central Mongolia, as well as the Tannu Uriankhai and Khovdmarker regions in northwestern Mongolia, were overseen by the General of Uliastai at the city of Uliastaimarker. This is equivalent to the modern independent state of Mongoliamarker, the Russian-administered region of Tannu Uriankhai, and a part of northern Xinjiang.
  • "Inner Mongolia": The banners and tribes of southern Mongolia came under six leagues (chuulghan): Jirim, Juu Uda, Josutu, Xilingol, Ulanqabmarker, and Yeke Juu. This is equivalent to most of modern Inner Mongolia and some neighbouring areas in Liaoningmarker and Jilinmarker provinces.
  • "Taoxi Mongolia": The Alashan Öölüd and Ejine Torghuud banners were separate from the aimags of Outer Mongolia and the chuulghans of Inner Mongolia. This is equivalent to modern-day Alxa Leaguemarker, the westernmost part of what is now Inner Mongolia.
  • The Chahar Eight Banners were controlled by the military commander of Chahar (now Zhangjiakoumarker). Their extent corresponds to southern Ulanqab and Bayan Nurmarker in modern Inner Mongolia, plus the region around Zhangjiakoumarker in Hebeimarker province. At the same time, the jurisdiction of some border departments of Zhili and Shanximarker provinces also overlapped into this region.
  • The Guihua Tümed banner was controlled by the military commander of Suiyuan (now Hohhotmarker). This corresponds to the vicinities of the modern city of Hohhotmarker. At the same time, the jurisdiction of some border departments of Shanximarker province also overlapped into this region.
  • The Hulunbuirmarker region, in what is now northeastern Inner Mongolia, was part of the jurisdiction of the General of Heilongjiangmarker, one of the three generals of Manchuria.

Ordinary Mongols were not allowed to travel outside their own leagues. While there had been Han Chinese farmers in what is now Inner Mongolia since the time of Altan Khan, mass settlement began in the late nineteenth century. The Manchus were becoming increasingly sinicized, and faced with the Russian threat, they began to encourage Han Chinese farmers to settle in both Mongolia and Manchuria. This policy has been followed by subsequent governments. The railroads that were being built in these regions were especially useful to the Han Chinese settlers. Land was either sold by Mongol Princes, or leased to Han Chinese farmers, or simply taken away from the nomads and given to Han Chinese farmers.

During the Republic of Chinamarker era, Outer Mongolia regained independence. At the same time, Inner Mongolia was reorganized into provinces:
  • Rehe province was created to include the Juu Uda and Josutu leagues, plus the Chengdemarker area in what is now northern Hebeimarker.
  • Chaharmarker province was created to include Xilingol league as well as much of the former territory of the Eight Banners.
  • Suiyuan province was created to include Ulanqab league, Yeke Juu league, and the Hetao region (former Guihua Tümed territory).
  • Hulunbuir stayed within Heilongjiangmarker in Manchuria, which had become a province.
  • Most of Jirim league came under the new province of Fengtien in southern Manchuria.
  • Taoxi Mongolia, i.e. Alashan and Ejine leagues, was incorporated into neighbouring Gansumarker province. Later on Ningxia province was split out of northern Gansu, and Taoxi Mongolia became part of Ningxia.

Some Republic of Chinamarker maps still show this structure.

Manchuria came under the control of the Japanese puppet state Manchukuo in 1931, taking the Mongol areas in the Manchurian provinces (i.e. Hulunbuir and Jirim leagues) along. Rehe was also incorporated into Manchukuo in 1933, taking Juu Uda and Josutu leagues along with it. These areas were administered by Manchukuo until the end of World War II in 1945.

In 1937, open war broke out between the Republic of Chinamarker and Japanmarker. On December 8, 1937, Mongolian Prince De Wang declared the independence of the remaining parts of Inner Mongolia (i.e. the Suiyuan and Chahar provinces) as Mengkiang or Mengkukuo, and signed close agreements with Manchukuo and Japan, thereby turning Inner Mongolia into a puppet state of the Japanese Empire. The capital was established at Zhangbei (now in Hebeimarker province), with the puppet government's control extending as far west as the Hohhotmarker region. In August 1945, Mengkiang was taken by Soviet and Outer Mongolian troops during Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation.

Following the end of World War II, the Chinese Communists gained control of Manchuria with some Soviet support, and established the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in 1947, following the Sovietmarker model of nationalities policy. Initially the autonomous region included just the Hulunbuir region. Over the next decade, as the communists established the People's Republic of Chinamarker and consolidated control over mainland China, Inner Mongolia was expanded westwards to include five of the six original leagues (except Josutu League, which remains in Liaoningmarker province), the northern part of the Chahar region, by then a league as well (southern Chahar remains in Hebeimarker province), the Hetao region, and the Alashan and Ejine banners. Eventually, near all areas with sizeable Mongol populations were incorporated into the region, giving present-day Inner Mongolia its elongated shape. The leader of Inner Mongolia during that time, as both regional CPC secretary and head of regional government, was Ulanhu.
Inner Mongolian Gym
During the Cultural Revolution, the administration of Ulanhu was purged, and a wave of repressions against the Mongol population of the autonomous region was initiated. In 1969 much of Inner Mongolia was distributed among surrounding provinces, with Hulunbuir divided between Heilongjiangmarker and Jilinmarker, Jirim going to Jilinmarker, Juu Uda to Liaoningmarker, and the Alashan and Ejine region divided among Gansumarker and Ningxia. This was reversed in 1979.

There are groups calling for the independence of Inner Mongolia from what they view as Chinese imperialism; these groups, however, have less influence and support within and outside Inner Mongolia than similar movements in Tibet and East Turkestan .

Administrative divisions

Inner Mongolia is divided into 12 prefecture-level divisions. Until the late 1990s, most of Inner Mongolia's prefectural regions were known as Leagues ( ), a usage retained from Mongol divisions of the Qing Dynastymarker. Similarly, county-level divisions are often known as Banners ( ). Since the 1990s, numerous Leagues have converted into prefecture-level cities, although Banners remain. The restructuring led to the conversion of primate cities in most leagues to convert to districts administratively (Hailar, Jiningmarker, and Dongshengmarker). Some newly founded prefecture-level cities have chosen to retain the original name of League (Hulunbuir, Bayan Nur, and Ulanqab), some have adopted the Chinese name of their primate city (Chifengmarker, Tongliaomarker), and one League, Ikh Juu, simply renamed itself Ordosmarker. Despite these recent administrative changes, there is no indication that the Alxa, Hinggan, and Xilin Gol Leagues will convert to prefecture-level cities in the near future.

Map # Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Mongolian Transcription from Mongolian Type
1 Alxamarker 阿拉善盟 Ālāshàn méng Alaša ayimaɣ League
2 Bayan Nurmarker 巴彦淖尔市 Bāyànnào'ěr shì Bayannaɣur Prefecture-level city
3 Wuhaimarker 乌海市 Wūhǎi shì Üqai Prefecture-level city
4 Ordosmarker 鄂尔多斯市 È'ěrduōsī shì Ordus Prefecture-level city
5 Baotoumarker 包头市 Bāotóu shì Buɣutu Prefecture-level city
6 Hohhotmarker 呼和浩特市 Hūhéhàotè shì Kökeqota Prefecture-level city
7 Ulanqabmarker 乌兰察布市 Wūlánchábù shì Ulaɣančabu Prefecture-level city
8 Xilin Gol 锡林郭勒盟 Xīlínguōlè méng Sili-yin ɣoul ayimaɣ League
9 Chifengmarker 赤峰市 Chìfēng shì Ulaɣanqada Prefecture-level city
10 Tongliaomarker 通辽市 Tōngliáo shì Töngliyao Prefecture-level city
11 Hingganmarker 兴安盟 Xīng'ān méng Kingɣan ayimaɣ League
12 Hulunbuirmarker 呼伦贝尔市 Hūlúnbèi'ěr shì Kölün buyir Prefecture-level city

Many of the prefecture-level cities were converted very recently from leagues.

The twelve prefecture-level divisions of Inner Mongolia are subdivided into 101 county-level divisions, including twenty-one district, eleven county-level cities, seventeen counties, forty-nine banners, and three autonomous banners. Those are in turn divided into 1425 township-level divisions, including 532 town, 407 township, 277 sumu, eighteen ethnic townships, one ethnic sumu, and 190 subdistricts.

See the List of administrative divisions of Inner Mongolia for a complete list of county-level divisions.
Inner Mongolian Theater


Farming of crops such as wheat takes precedence along the river valleys. In the more arid grasslands, herding of goats, sheep and so on is a traditional method of subsistence. Forestry and hunting are somewhat important in the Greater Khinganmarker ranges in the east. Reindeer herding is carried out by Evenks in the Evenk Autonomous Banner. More recently, growing grapes and winemaking have become an economic factor in the Wuhaimarker area.

Inner Mongolia has abundance of resources especially coal, cashmere, natural gas, rare earth elements, and has more deposits of naturally-occurring niobium, zirconium and beryllium than any other province-level region in China. However in the past, the exploitation and utilisation of resources were rather inefficient, which resulted in poor returns from rich resources. Inner Mongolia is also an important coal production base in north China. It plans to double annual coal output by 2010 (from the 2005 volume of 260 million tons) to 500 million tons of coal a year.

Industry in Inner Mongolia has grown up mainly around coal, power generation, forestry-related industries, and so forth.Inner Mongolia now laid emphasis on six competitive industries, namely energy, chemicals, metallurgy, equipment manufacturing, processing of farm (including dairy) produce as well as hi-tech products. Well-known Inner Mongolian enterprises include companies such as ERDOS, Yili, and Mengniu.

The nominal GDP of Inner Mongolia in 2008 was 776.2 billion yuan (US$110 billion), a growth of 17.2% from 2007, with an average annual increase of 20% from the period 2003-2007. Its per capita GDP reached 32,214 yuan (US$4,638). In 2008, Inner Mongolia's primary, secondary, and tertiary industries were worth 90.7 billion yuan, 427.1 billion yuan, and 258.4 billion yuan respectively. The urban per capita disposable income and rural per capita net income were 14,431 yuan and 4,656 yuan, up 16.6% and 17.8% respectively.

As with much of China, economic growth has led to a boom in construction, including new commercial development and large apartment complexes.

As the winds in the grasslands are very strong, some private companies have set up wind parks in parts of Inner Mongolia such as Bailingmiao, Hutengliang and zhouzi.

Economic and Technological Development Zones

Government and Politics

Under the Constitution of the People's Republic of China, articles 112-122, autonomous regions have limited autonomy in both the political and economic arena. In theory, autonomous regions have more discretion in administering economic policy in the region in accordance with "national guidelines". In practice, however, the Chairman — who legally must be an ethnic minority and is usually ethnic Mongolian — is always kept in check by the more powerful Communist Party Regional Committee Secretary, who is usually from a different part of China and Han Chinese. The current party secretary is Chu Bo, a native of Anhuimarker province. The Inner Mongolian government and its subsidiaries follow roughly the same structure as that of a Chinese province. With regards to economic policy, as a part of increased federalism characteristics in China, Inner Mongolia has become more independent in implementing its own economic roadmap.

List of CPC Secretaries

  1. Ulanhu (乌兰夫): 1947–1966
  2. Xie Xuegong (解学恭): 1966–1967
  3. Teng Haiqing (滕海清): 1968–1969
  4. Zheng Weishan (郑维山): 1969–1971
  5. You Taizhong (尤太忠): 1971–1978
  6. Zhou Hui (周惠): 1978–1986
  7. Zhang Shuguang (张曙光): 1986–1987
  8. Wang Qun (王群): 1987–1994
  9. Liu Mingzu (刘明祖): 1994–2001
  10. Chu Bo (储波): 2001–incumbent

List of Chairmen of Government

  1. Ulanhu (乌兰夫): 1947–1966
  2. Teng Haiqing (滕海清): 1967–1971
  3. You Taizhong (尤太忠): 1971–1978
  4. Kong Fei (孔飞): 1978–1982
  5. Buhe (布赫): 1982–1993
  6. Uliji (乌力吉): 1993–1998
  7. Yun Bulong (云布龙): 1998–2000
  8. Uyunqimg (乌云其木格): 2000–2003
  9. Yang Jing (杨晶): 2003–2008
  10. Bagatur (巴特尔): 2008–


Han Chinese are the largest ethnic group, constituting about 80% of the population. While the Hetao region along the Yellow River has always alternated between farmers from the south and nomads from the north, the most recent episode of Han Chinese migration began in the early 18th century with encouragement from the Manchu Qing Dynastymarker, and continued into the 20th century. Han Chinese live mostly in the Hetao region as well as various population centres in central and eastern Inner Mongolia.

Mongols are the second largest ethnic group, comprising about 17% of the population. They include many diverse Mongolian-speaking groups; groups such as the Buryats and the Oirats are also officially considered to be Mongols in China. Many of the traditionally nomadic Mongols have settled in permanent homes as their pastoral economy was collectivized during the Maoist Era.

Other ethnic groups include the Daur, the Evenks, the Oroqin, the Hui, the Manchus, and the Koreans.

Ethnic groups in Inner Mongolia, 2000 census
Ethnicity Population Percentage
Han Chinese 18,465,586 79.17%
Mongol 3,995,349 17.13%
Manchu 499,911 2.14%
Hui 209,850 0.900%
Daur 77,188 0.331%
Evenks 26,201 0.112%
Koreans 21,859 0.094%
Russians 5,020 0.022%

Excludes members of the People's Liberation Army in active service.


The Han Chinese of Inner Mongolia speak a variety of dialects, depending on the region. The eastern parts tend to speak Northeastern Mandarin, which belong to the Mandarin group of dialects; those in the central parts, such as the Huang Hemarker valley, speak varieties of Jin, another subdivision of Chinese, due to its proximity to other Jin-speaking areas in China such as the Shanximarker province. Cities such as Hohhot and Baotou both have their unique brand of Jin Chinese which are sometimes incomprehensible with dialects spoken in northeastern regions such as Hailar.

Mongols in Inner Mongolia speak a variety of dialects of the Mongolian language, including Chahar, Bairin, Ordos, Ejin-Alxa, Barghu-Buryat, etc.; the standard pronunciation of Mongolian in China is based on the Chahar dialect of the Plain Blue Banner, located in central Inner Mongolia. This is different from independent Mongolia, where the standard pronunciation is based on the Khalkha dialect. The Daur, Evenks, and Oroqin speak their own respective languages.

By law, all street signs, commercial outlets, and government documents must be bilingual, displaying both Mongolian and Chinese. There are three Mongolian TV channels in the Inner Mongolia Satellite TV network. A recent trend has also taken place with public transportation, where all announcements are also to be bilingual. Many ethnic Mongols, especially those from the newest generation, speak fluent Chinese, as Mongolian is beginning to recede in everyday use in urban areas. Ethnic Mongols in rural areas, however, have kept their traditions. In terms of written language, Inner Mongolia has retained the classic Mongol written script as opposed to Outer Mongolia's adoption of the Cyrillic alphabet.

The vast grasslands have always been symbolic of Inner Mongolia. Mongolian art often depicts the grassland in an uplifting fashion, emphasizing on the nomadic traditions of the Mongol people. The Mongols of Inner Mongolia practice many traditional forms of art. Inner Mongolian specialty cuisine, largely derived from the tradition of ethnic Mongols, consists of dairy-related products and hand-held lamb (手扒肉). In recent years franchises based on Hot pot had sprung up from Inner Mongolia, the most famous of which is Xiaofeiyang (小肥羊). Inner Mongolia is also known commercially for the brand names Mengniu and Yili, both of which began with the production of dairy products and ice cream.

Among the Han Chinese of Inner Mongolia, Jinju (晉劇) or Shanxi Opera is a popular traditional form of entertainment. See also: Shanximarker.

Siqin Gaowa, a famous actress of China, is an ethnic Mongol native to Inner Mongolia.

A popular career in Inner Mongolia is circus acrobatics. The famous Inner Mongolia Acrobatic Troupe travels and performs with the renowned Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.


The Five Pagoda Temple in Höhhot, a Buddhist temple.
In the capital city Hohhotmarker:

Elsewhere in Inner Mongolia:

Chinese space program

One of China's space vehicle launch facilities, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centermarker (JSLC) ( ), is located in the extreme west of Inner Mongolia, in the Alxa Leaguemarker's Ejin Banner, about 1,600 km from Beijing. It was founded in 1958, making it the PRC's first launch facility. More Chinese launches have occurred at Jiuquan than anywhere else. As with all Chinese launch facilities, it is remote and generally closed to the public. It is named as such since Jiuquan is the nearest urban centre, although Jiuquan is in the nearby province of Gansu. Many space vehicles have also made their touchdowns in Inner Mongolia. For example, the crew of Shenzhou 6 landed in Siziwang Banner, near Hohhotmarker.


Colleges and universities

All of the above are under the authority of the autonomous region government. Institutions without full-time bachelor programs are not listed.

See also

Notes and references

External links

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