Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region

Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, Mandarin Nei Monggol zizhiqu, autonomous region (2010 pop. 24,706,321), c.455,000 sq mi (1,178,755 sq km), NE China. It is bounded on the north by the Republic of Mongolia and on the northeast by Russia. The capital is Hohhot (Huhehot).

Land and People

Inner Mongolia is largely steppe country that becomes increasingly arid toward the Gobi Desert in the west. The climate is continental with cold dry winters and hot summers. Stockraising, mainly of sheep, goats, horses, and camels, is a major occupation; wool, hides, and skins are important exports. Rainfall is scanty, but irrigation makes agriculture possible, and much grazing land has been converted to raising spring wheat. The main farming areas are in the bend of the Huang He (Yellow River) and in the Hohhot plains.

The Mongols of China are concentrated in the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region, but there has been much Chinese immigration and the Mongols now comprise less than 20% of the population. The Chinese live mostly in the farming areas. Many of the traditionally nomadic Mongols have settled in permanent homes as their pastoral economy was collectivized. Inner Mongolian Univ. is in Hohhot.

Economy

Principal crops are wheat, sorghum, millet, oats, corn, linseed, soybeans, sugar beets, and rice. There are valuable mineral deposits (coal, lignite, iron ore, lead, zinc, gold, rare earths, and natural gas), as yet only partially exploited. The region's industries, centered at Baotou, include iron and steel mills and plants producing fertilizer, cement, textiles, and machinery. A railway built in 1958, linking Russia (through Mongolia) with Lanzhou in Gansu prov., passes through Hohhot and Baotou. The Beijing-Ulaanbaatar road traverses the region. Considerable additional road and rail improvements have been made with the vigorous industrialization of Baotou.

History

Originally the southern part of Mongolia, Inner Mongolia was settled chiefly by the Tumet and Chahar tribes. From 1530 to 1583, Inner Mongolia was held by Anda (Altan Khan), chief of the Tumets, who harried N China and once besieged Beijing. After his death, Likdan Khan of the Chahars became (c.1605) ruler, but in 1635 he was defeated by the Manchus, who soon annexed Inner Mongolia. Under Manchu rule S Mongolia became known as Inner Mongolia; N Mongolia, conquered by the Manchus at the end of the 17th cent., became known as Outer Mongolia.

Until 1911, Inner Mongolia was only under nominal Chinese rule; however, Chinese settlers in the region soon forced the Mongol tribes into the steppe and arid parts of the region. After the Revolution of 1911, Inner Mongolia became an integral part of the Chinese Republic. In 1928 it was divided among the Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Suiyuan, and Chahar. After the outbreak (1937) of the Sino-Japanese War, the Mongols of Suiyuan and Chahar established the Japanese-controlled state of Mengkiang or Mengjiang, with its capital at Guihua.

The Chinese Communists, after their conquest of Inner Mongolia in 1945, supported the traditional aspirations of the Mongols for autonomy, and in May, 1947, the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region—with limited powers of self-government within the Communist state—was formally proclaimed. It was the first autonomous region established by the Communist government.

From 1949 to 1956 the area of the region was expanded through the incorporation of the former province of Suiyuan and parts of the provinces of Liaobei, Rehe, Chahar, and Gansu. Extensive boundary changes in 1969, however, considerably reduced the size of the province. The W Ala Shan desert region was given to Gansu and Ningxia Autonomous Region, and the northeast corner, which bordered on Russia, was divided between the Manchurian provinces. Hebei prov. also received a section of Inner Mongolia. These border changes were reversed in 1979, and the region was restored to its former size. Hohhot has been the capital since 1952; from 1947 to 1950 the capital was at Ulanhot (Ulan Hoto), and from 1950 to 1952 it was at Zhangjiakou (Kalgan; now in Hebei prov.).

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