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Inner Mongolia AR of China
Map of the Gobi Desert & Yellow River Flow
Satellite Image Map of the Gobi Desert Region. Map overviews North-West Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Mongolia, Inner Mongolia and North and North-Eastern China giving a Full Overview of the Gobi Deserts and Yellow River Basin.  Map includes country borders, name + location of Cities and Villages (clearly visible).
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Main Rivers and Waterways of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region :
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The most important and largest River within the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region is the legendary Yellow River (Huang He). The Yellow River enters Inner Mongolia from the South through the narrow strip of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and curves around deflected by the
There are however many other rivers within the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. To get a proper overview and understanding of the rivers flowing through the large, wide and diverse landscapes of the Inner Mongolia Region, they are best taken and described by region.

Traditionally one of the most important rivers in Inner Mongolia is found in the far west, in the Alxa League. The main river in this remote region, disconnected from civilization by the vast expanses of the Gobi Desert, is the Hei River. The Hei River is the main tributary of the Yellow River in these regions, flowing from the Juyan Oasis Basin (or the Hei River Delta) in the north of the Alxa League, through what has been known for a millenium as the black river (Ejin River (Chinese: 额济纳河 Ejina-he, Mongolian: Etsin-gol, Edzin-gol) to pass into the Hexi Corridor (the neck) of Gansu Province, sustaining life along the main route of the silk road along its
In history the Yellow River was an important transportation route for men and cargo, the rest of Inner Mongolia only traversable through Camel
Google Map : Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China. Click & Browse.
tracks and trails. Later, in the 1950's the Baolan Railway (Baotou to Lanzhou the Capital of Gansu Province) curving around the bend of the Yellow River unlocked the regions for the first time and enabled a base for the industrialization of the  Yellow River basin in Inner Mongolia and Ningxia.
A famous life giving river legendary from Silk Road history, in the 12th century The Hei or Ejin (Mongolian) River and its delta became the base of the Tangut or Western Xia (Xixia) Kingdom. After having fallen under attack from the rising and advancing Mongol Empire led by Genghis Khan, and having been pushed from their precious founding Capital at Yinchuan in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the Western Xia found temporary safety in the abundance and green of the Hei River Delta, which at the time was the location of a large lake full of fish, and surrounded by swamps and green steppes.
In the year 1917 AD, the ancient second Capital of the Western Xia Kingdom, was rediscovered by Russian explorers who traversed and mapped the regions. Known as Khara-Khoto, the ruined city was found buried in sands in what today is the Ejin Banner of the Alxa League of Inner Mongolia. The
Tianshui, Gansu Province
A schematic Map of the pathways of the Silk Road within China with the main trading route highlighted in red. The Path of the Hei River through the Hexi Corridor to end up joining the Yellow River is clearly visible.
A schematic Map of the pathways of the Silk Road within China and Central Asia showing the sections of what would become known as the Eurasian Trade Route in Inner Mongolia.
nearby legendary lake, described in the travel accounts of Marco Polo was found evaporated.
(Read More on the Western Xia Kingdom in 'Yinchuan - Capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region', and 'Khara-Koto, Heicheng, Black City'.)

It is clear that overtime, the Hei River and its Delta have experienced the effects of local climatic shifts and as such today's lake does no longer exists. As can be clearly be seen on Google Maps, the cluster of lakes that once lay underneath the south rim of the Tian Shan Mountains (forming the border with The Republic of Mongolia) has been overtaken by the sand dunes of the Gobi Desert.

Once the source of joy and life in otherwise barren and notoriously deadly regions, today's Hei River (Ejin Gol) and Delta are dead, the birds and fish gone and small villages which were sustained for many centuries by its waters are now mostly
length. Without the Hei River and smaller waters flowing off the gletsjers atop surrounding mountain ranges life would be impossible in West Inner Mongolia as well as in the Hexi Corridor. Thus it can be said that without the Hei River, there would have been no main route of the Silk Road in these regions.
abandoned by their citizenry. What is left is a giant dust-bowl, which noteably, is an important source for the many (yellow) dust storms and sand storms that terrorize the regions, mainly in the spring season. The Sand from the Lake-bed is blown for thousands of miles of the prevailing eastward winds, carrying the dust along to Chinese Cities. As many visiting foreign visitors have already heard, even the Capital of China, the City of Beijing is frequently covered in dust, and the Gobi Dust has become one of the environmental problems the city is notorious for.
sands of the Gobi Desert creating the seperate geographic zone of the Ordos Desert to the east within its bend or curve. Flowing through Baotou and Hohhot City Prefectures - the main industrial centers within Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, it then curves back south to form the border between Shaanxi Province and Shanxi Province of China. The fertile and irrigated plain of the yellow river serves as the main ceter of agriculture and population within Inner Mongolia AR.
Kashgar (Kashi)
Beijing (Peking)
Xi'An (Chang'An)
Jiayuguan (Suzhou)
A second River and Lake flowing through the otherwise arid expanses of the Gobi Desert is the Minqin River, which flows more easterly than the Ejin River, but in a parallel north-south direction. Dividing the Tengger Desert from the much larger Gobi Desert, the Minqin River is another lifeline in waterless regions, and a river which until recently has formed the Minqin Lakes and swamps on the border of Alxa League and (the Hexi Corridor of) Gansu Province. The Minqin River flows from Minqin Lake southward, to join the Hei River near Wuwei in Gansu Province.
Smaller than the Ejin River and Lake, the Minqin River has seen the same climatic shifts that have reduced its larger twin to dust. Although still flowing, the Minqin River still exists today, but its lake and wetlands are periodically falling dry. During many months of the year, the Minqin lake and river see no flow of water, and the communities once sustained by its waters are in crisis. Without water, the small scale agriculture and fisheries that have sustained the local population for centuries and even millennia are no longer possible. Overtaken by the desert and the advancing sand, citizens are moving out and away, trying their luck in the cities of Inner China.
Horseriders atop a 100 meter Sand Dune on the border of Ningxia AR and Inner Mongolia. A Landscape typical fof western and central Inner Mongolia. Where the Yellow River slowly creeps adjacent the desert, a vast green landscape is created which holds back the otherwise forever shiftings sands of the Gobi Desert.
Wildlife unique to the regions has died away years ago during the disastrous developmental drives of China's Communist Revolution, or is under severe threat from climatic change and habitat distruction. Serving as an important stop over for migrating birds (cranes etc) within Asia, the vital wetlands are falling from the chain on the migration route, threatening the extinsion of rare crane species.

The Center of Inner Mongolia, meaning the Prefectures of Wuhai and Baotou as well as the Bayan Nur League, is dominated by the Yellow River (Huanghe).
North of the Yellow River lies the Bayan Nur League, a deserted territory made up of the Lingshan Mountains and beyond the shifting sands of the Gobi Desert. Of the few small streams that flow there the Wujia River (Wujia He) is the largest.
No rivers flow north of the Lingshan Range as they would be somethered by the endless rows of sand dunes. The Wujia He originates within the Lingshan Range and eventually ends up as a tributary to the Yellow River. The Ulansu Hai is the only lake in the region.
South of the Bend of the Yellow River lies the Ordos Desert and Ordos City Prefecture. The only river of importance is the Dustin River (Dustin Gol) which flows from the desert westward to end up joining the Yellow River (Huang He) between Huinong and Mataigou villages in the North tip of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. In history, the Dustin River provided a natural border with Mongolian (barbaric) territories from where frequent raids were launched through the Ordos desert. Eeventually, a stretch of The Great Wall of China would be constructed just to the North, today still demarkating the border between Ningxia, the land of Islamic Hui, and Inner Mongolia - realm of the Mongolian Tribes. The Great Wall of China sections in case are known today as the Jiucaikou and/or Dawukou Great Wall of China.

East of Baotou and Hohhot,  beyond the reach of the Yellow River lie the two rivers of Aibag He and  Xar Moron He.

Even further to the East, in Ulanqab League lie the Qagan Lake (Qagan Nur) and the Dalai Lake (Dalai Nur). Situated south of the Greater Hinggan Mountains which form the natural border with Mongolia.

In turn, the Manchurian plains (Xilin Gol League, Chifeng Prefecture and Tongliao Prefecture) are traversed by a multitude of rivers and streams.

Last but not least, in the Hinggan Mountains and League, and beyond in the North in Hulunbuir lie vast wooded regions, known for their swampy area's lying huge valleys between low mountains and hills.
The most important river in Da Hinggan League is the Gan River (Chinese: 甘河 Gān Hé).
The Gan river is a large tributary of the Nen River, flowing from the east flank of the Greater Khinggan Range and the east of Da Hinggang League across the territory to empty into the Nen River at Nenjiang on the border with Heilongjiang Province. On its 446 kilometer journey it passes north-eastward into Hulunbuir, after which it through both the Morin Dawa Daur and the Oroqin Autonomous Banner of the vast Hulunbuir League. In total the Gan River drains an area of over 20,000 sq. kilometers, which consist of mostly hills and plains. The Gan River basin is traditionally home to semi-nomadic Daur and Oroqen people and flows through what is considered among the roughest and wildest territories within these regions.

With a total length of 1370 kilometres (850 miles) and as the main tributary to the even larger Songhua River, the Nen River is considered the main river in Hulunbuir League, and the most North-Eastern parts of Inner Mongolia. Originating in the northernmost tip of Heilongjiang Province, the Nen River flows in the southern direction through the northern part of Heilongjiang Province and accross the border into the northeastern section of Inner Mongolia, Hulunbuir League. Effectively, it flows in a wide valley which is formed by the Greater Khinggan Mountains in the West and the Lesser Khinggan mountain range in the east. At some points the Nen River forms the natural border between Heilongjiang Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It eventually meets up with the Second Songhua River near Da'an to form the Songhua River.
Needless to say, in a mountainous and forested region with plenty of precipitation, the Nen River has many larger and smaller tributaries. Listed as such are the Gan River (甘河), the Namur or Namoer/Nemor River (讷谟尔河) - which flows for a large part of its length along the border with the Russian Federation -, the Nuomin River (诺敏河 ), the Anlun River (雅鲁河), the Wuyuer/Nuyur River, the Chuoer River, the Taoer/Chaor River (洮儿河) and finally the Huolin River (霍林河).

The river is prone to flooding, as occurred most recently in 1998, 2005 and the summer of 2010.

The Main Lake in the Hulunbuir League is the Hulun Lake, giving its name to a vast region. Around the Lake and reaching as far as the outskirts of the Town of Hailar are extensive grasslands which are regarded the most pristine in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Apart from the Rivers in Inner Mongolia there are various large lakes which historically sustained the green steppes and the life of the Nomadic Peoples that inhabited the regions.
Apart from the Ejin Lake and Minqin Lake, the Jartai Lake is the third important lake within the Alxa League (and West Inner Mongolia).
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