Ningxia is a landlocked autonomous region with a strong Hui (38% of the population) presence, in Northern China. It has been part of China since Qin dynasty, more than two thousand years ago.
The region has one fifth of the entire Hui population of China. It is also one of the most underpopulated areas of China with around 6 million inhabitants. Almost two thirds of the population is Han.
The capital, and largest city, is Yinchuan, where more than a third of the population lives.
A variable landscape in a small province
Ningxia is a rather small region and the area it covers is generally mountainous. The climate is dry, and there are both forests and deserts, hills and plains. The presence of the Yellow River helps a little bit, and boosts local agriculture. Another aid comes from a system of canals that dates back to the Qin dynasty.
The climate is rather cold in winters, reaching -30° C, and hot in summer, with peaks of 39° C. The diurnal temperature variation can be of up to 17 degrees.
Ningxia’s resources are in the primary sector
Ningxia has a vast gamma of resources. While the territory is not vast, it hosts reserves of many different minerals. Among them, we can find coal, oil, natural gas, iron, phosphorus, flint, copper barite and the biggest reserves of gypsum of China.
The vast majority of the people work in the primary sector. Goji, or wolfberries, are present in Ningxia more than in the rest of China, and are used for Traditional Chinese Medicine. Other two products are licorice and livestock.
Industrially speaking, Ningxia is receiving some interest for wine production by both state and private companies. There are also steelworks, new materials and machinery factories.
Yinchuan has its own Economic and Technological Development Zone to aid industrialization and tertiarization.
The difficult territory and the small population cannot make things better for Ningxia’s economy. Although it is one of the worst in China, its labor costs are fairly high.
Ningxia: home of Western Xia, or Tangut Empire
Ningxia is small, but has few interesting cultural spots. The Western Xia dynasty, or Tangut Empire, which ruled the region during the Song dynasty, one thousand years ago, had its center of power in Yinchuan. The Mausoleums of Western Xia are one of the top tourist spots in Ningxia. As a matter of fact, Ningxia’s cultural spots have almost always some Western Xia influence. Ningxia’s name itself means “Calm Xia“, and has been kept to this day.
Ningxia is not an economical powerhouse or a vastly populated region. Yet, it has lots of mineral resources. Furthermore, the interest shown on local wine production by many companies may not be wrongly placed.
While its existence is undoubtedly less important than most of its neighbors, its status as an autonomous region make it stand out, for better or worse.