Introduction to the Different Parts of China
A country’s totality can be better understood with the help of Geography. Accordingly, Geography is defined as the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Professionally, the people who devote their lives to the study of Geography are called Geographers. Geographers are responsible for exploring both the physical properties of the Earth’s surface, as well as the human societies that spread across it. In this article, we will place in the central limelight, an introduction to the different parts of China, as our focal point of discussion. Personally, I envision myself to visit this amazing country in the future, since it is both my personal dream and indeed is a major part of my bucket list.
China is a diverse country because of the multifaceted traces of beauty, culture, tradition, belief and uniqueness that it carries as a country and nation. It is the world’s third largest country which is succeedingly next after Russia and Canada. China is geographically located in Southeast Asia along the coastline of the Pacific Ocean. The country’s form and shape can be depicted as a rooster because of its area of 9.6 million square kilometers and its coastline of 18,000 kilometers.
China’s border is surrounded by 14 countries which are Vietnam, Pakistan, Korea, Burma, India, Laos, Nepal, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia. On the marine side and portion of the country, it has six neighboring and surrounding countries which are Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Brunei, Philippines and Malaysia. With this brief description of China as a country within its deep geographical aspect, let us draw our attention to the different parts of China as an introduction, in which I plan to discuss it in a regional form, perspective and manner. Let us begin.
The 5 Autonomous Regions of China: A Preliminary Introduction
China’s beauty is enhanced with its immensely great physical diversity. The southern and eastern coasts and sections of the country are composed of foothills and lowlands that are boosting in fertility. These sections and locations of China are the vivid resources of human population and agricultural output. Specifically, the western and northern portion of China are highly dominated by the sunken basins, towering masses and rolling plateaus such as the Taklamakan and Gobi.
On another dimensional tenet, the southern areas of China, which is found in the South of the Yangtze River, consists of the mountainous and hilly terrains. Lastly, on the other side of the coin, China contains a huge part of the greatly considered highest tableland on earth, the Tibetan Plateau, as well as the lower population and agricultural potential is found on this part of the country.
With this information on hand, let us one by one discuss the 5 autonomous regions of China which are Guangxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, Tibet or Xizang and Xinjiang and get to see how these regions vary and differ uniquely in a comparative aspect as follows:
Guangxi is geographically and topographically known as the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi,and is located respectively in southern China. The boundaries of this autonomous region are the Chinese provinces of Guizhou to its North, Yunnan to its West, Hunan to its Northeast and Guangdong to its Southeast.
In addition to that, the Beibu Gulf or more worldly known as the Gulf of Tonkin, as well as the Vietnam Border is found in the South and Southwest portions of the Guangxi region. The capital city of Guangxi region is Nanning. It is located for about 75 miles which is equivalent to 120 kilometers of the southwest portion of the region’s respective geographic center. The origin of Guangxi, as a name to this autonomous region, historically originated during the Song Dynasty in which its era is from 960-1279. During the time of this dynasty, the region was more popularly known as Guangan Xilu or in English translation is meant as: “Wide South, Western Route”, which is the western half of the south territory of the Nan Mountains.
On the other hand, the Yuan Dynasty in which its era was in 1206-1368 gave contraction to the name “Guangxi” or Western Expanse, in opposition to “Guangdong” or Eastern Expanse to the east, which is intended for the process of creating a province, outside of the territory. In 1958, the province in the longer run, was changed into a formal name which is known today as the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi. This geographical and topographical move, motive and initiative was intently designed to aid in the fostering of the cultural autonomy of the Zhuang Jia and Zhuang people. These people constitute the largest living minority of the region. In a numerical point of view, the area of the Guangxi region is 85,100 square miles, which is equivalent to 220,400 square kilometers.
Inner Mongolia is known in China with its full name, as the “Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region”. As one of China’s autonomous regions, Inner Mongolia geographically and topographically has a vast territory that stretches in a great crescent of 1,490 miles, which is equivalent to 2,400 kilometers across the northern portion of China.
Inner Mongolia is bordered by the country Mongolia on its Northern side which is formerly known as “Outer Mongolia” and Russia. On its Eastern side, it is bordered by the Chinese provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, while on its Southern side, it is bordered by the Chinese provinces of Shaanxi, Hebei, Shanxi and the Hui Autonomous Region of Ningxia. And finally, in its Western side is the province of Gansu. The capital city of Inner Mongolia is Hoohot or more culturally known as “Huhehaote”. The area of Inner Mongolia is approximately 454,600 square miles, which is equivalent to 1,177,500 square kilometers as a whole. The entirety of the region of Inner Mongolia is pivotally an inland plateau that is depicted with a flat surface that lies in an elevation that is about 3,300 feet which is equivalent to 1,000 meters above sea level and is naturally transcended by the surrounding valleys and mountains. The southern boundary of the region is formed by a network of tall ridges that has an average height of between 4,500 and 6,00 feet, which is equivalent to 1,400 to 1,800 meters. In the northwest portion, the land falls away towards the centerpoint of the Gobi Desert, which is an arid zone that has a limelight on low summer rainfall, a strong evaporation, an almost perpetual sunshine and constant northwesterly winds as its features.
Indeed, a picturesque regional view is a promise that Inner Mongolia can provide to the people of China and to the world as a whole.
Ningxia, or more conventionally known as Ningsia, is known fully as the Hui Autonomous Region of Ningxia in China. Ningxia is located geographically and topographically in the Northern-Central part of China. This autonomous region is bounded in the Eastern part, by the Shaanxi province, while on the Southern and Western part, it is bounded by the Gansu province.
In addition to that, Ningxia is bounded on the Northern part, by the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Ningxia is mostly covered by desert as an autonomous region, but its vast plain located in Huang He, or more worldly known as Yellow River in the northern part of the region has undergone irrigation for agricultural purposes during the past centuries.
The capital city of Ningxia is Yinchuan which is situated in the northern portion of this autonomous region. It can be reached by a short distance by travelling to the west of the Huang He River. At this present time, Ningxia is nearly alongside within the ancient kingdom of the Tangut people which is popularly known in China as Xi or Xia in the Western side, after it was discovered in a conquest led by the Mongol Empire Emperor, Genghis Khan.
The autonomous region was later on named after the led conquest as Ningxia, or “Peaceful Xia” in easier terms. The area of Ningxia is 25,600 square miles, which is equivalent to 66,400 square kilometers as a whole. Physiographically speaking, Ningxia, as an autonomous region is divided into two respective parts.
First and foremost, Southern Ningxia is located on the portion of the Loess Plateau, as well as with the Liupan Mountains at its main ridge. The entirety of the region is enveloped in a covering of thick layered loess or more commonly known as the “wind-deposited soil”, wherein in some places, it reaches to more than 300 feet which is equivalent to 90 meters deep. Topographically speaking, it is depicted as a generally fairly flat area of Ningxia as a region.
On the other hand, Northern Ningxia is mostly composed of the Ningxia Plain, which can be found in the Huang He River. The river enters the innermost of Ningxia which begins from the Qinghai plateau that is found in Gansu, and flows freely in the eastern part of the region, and then in the northern part of the region, and then finally into the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
To continue with, the western side of the plain contains the Helan Mountains. The mountains in itself, serves as a shelter and protection, against the raging sandstorms that originate from the Tengger or Tengro Desert, which lies as well in the western section of the mountains. The Ningxia plain slopes that are gradual in form from South to North directions, and are located and situated at an elevation of 3,600-3,900 feet which is equivalent to 1,100-1,200 meters above sea level. The plain as a description is arid as an area, but the presence of the Huang He River in this particular plain is the main resource that provides irrigation in the place as a whole. Numerous canals have been constructed over the past centuries.
The vast network of willowed-lined lineage canals and paddy fields gives the entire landscape a view that greatly resembles that certain section of Southern China. Indeed, this region is truly unique in Topography and stunning in Geography on a larger scale.
Tibet or more popularly known as Tibetan Bod, is formally known in China as the Tibet Autonomous Region. Tibet is a historic region in China that is worldly known as “the roof of the world.”
This autonomous region is occupied geographically and topographically with a vast area of mountains and plateaus in the context of Central Asia, and this includes Mount Everest. Mount Everest is known as Qomolangma and Zhumulangma in Feng, and Chomolungma in Tibetan. Tibet is bordered by the following Chinese provinces such as: Sichuan in the East, Qinghai in the Northeast and Yunnan in the Southeast. On the other hand, the countries that are in the Southern part of the Tibet Region are Myanmar, Bhutan, India and Nepal, the disputed Kashmir region in the West and the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang in the Northwest.
The capital city of the Tibet Region is Lhasa. Historically, the name Tibet is derived from four origins: the Chinese Tufan, the Tai Thibet, the Mongolian Thubet and the Arabic Tubbat. On the basis of History, before the 1950s, the Tibet region was in a state of isolation from the rest of the world. Tibet constitutes a solely beautiful cultural and religious community, in which the Tibetan language as well as the Tibetan Buddhism are its trademarks. Because of these tenets, not much effort was placed in the process of facilitating communication with the region’s outsiders, and its economic development was minimal during that time.
The incorporation of Tibet into the People’s Republic of China was made possible in the year 1950, and this event remained a controversial and a greatly charged issue, within the norms of the Tibet region and worldwide. Realistically, a lot of Tibetans, most especially those who live outside China, relatively consider the action of China as an in-depth invasion of a sovereign country, as well as the continuous Chinese presence in Tibet is viewed as a deemed occupation by a foreign power.
On the other side of the coin, the Chinese people believed that Tibet has taken a rightful part with China for the past centuries, and through this, they gave Tibet the rightful liberation from a repressive regime wherein much of its population lived in the spirit of serfdom. With these assertions, truth is vivid to both sides, although public opinion that is from the outskirts of China, most especially in the Western part, has intended to gear on the side of Tibet both as an independent and least highly autonomous entity. With this premise, the 14th Dalai Lama was no question wherein the region of Tibet exiled its temporal and spiritual leader and through this, it has become one of the world’s highly regarded and recognizable individuals.
Tibet, as an autonomous region of China has an area of 471,700 square miles, which is equivalent to 1,221,600 square kilometers as a whole.
Xinjiang is conventionally known as Sinkiang. In China, it is formally known as the Uygur Autonomous Region of Xinjiang. Uygur in easier terminologies is also spelled as Uyghur or Uighur. It is an autonomous region of China that occupies the northwestern portion and corner of the nation. Xinjiang is geographically and topographically bordered by the following Chinese provinces and countries, which are: Gansu and Qinghai in the East, the Tibet Autonomous Region in the South, the country Afghanistan and the disputed territory of Kashmir in the Southwest, the countries Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in the West, the country Kazakhstan in the Northwest, the country Russia in the North, and lastly, the country Mongolia in the Northeast.
The capital city of Xinjiang is Urumqi or Wulumuqi. In an overall aspect, Xinjiang is greatly considered as China’s largest political unit. On the basis of historical records, Xinjiang is known to the Chinese people as “Xiyu” which means in the English translation as “Western Regions” for a number of past centuries, until the time came that the area was renamed, and at present as Xinjiang, which means in the English translation as “New Borders.” This was brought about by the annexation which transpired under the Qing (Manchu) dynasty in the 18th century. The Westerners for a long time have called it as the Chinese Turkistan for the purpose of distinguishing it from the existing Russian Turkistan.
In a broader aspect, Xinjiang is a region of rugged and lonely mountains and wide desert basins. The genuine indigenous population of pastoralists and agriculturalists which are principally Uighurs, inhabits the serene and tranquil oasis that are evident in its mountain foothills and plains that are basically for the purpose of pasturage. In 1949, a change was brought in the area due to the establishment of firm Chinese control and through this, numerous serious efforts were done for the integration of a regional economy in the country, and these efforts led to the accompaniment of great increase in the population of Han.
The Chinese government’s policy central focus is to allow these ethnic groups in developing and maintaining their own cultural identities. On another scheme, the extent of this policy has been widely successful in Xinjiang as a region, and has been given various interpretations wherein ethnic tensions are existing between the Han and Uighurs. The area of Xinjiang as an autonomous region is 635,900 square miles to be exact, which is equivalent to 1,646,900 square kilometers as a whole.