Ethnic Minorities of Inner Mongolia
This page was last updated on: November 23, 2013
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Full Map of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and adjoining territories, including 8 Provinces of China.
The Dominant Ethnic group within Inner Mongolia are the Han people.
In turn, the largest ethnic minority group are made up by the various tribes of Eastern and Western Mongolians, who were in the past known as the Kalkhas and the Oirats. Traditionally, the Kalkhas occupied most of Western Mongolia and parts of Xinjiang and Tibet, whereas the Oirats lived exclusively in the East. Through mutual bickering, traditional clan structures and battles they stayed culturally and geographically seperate.
Today, these distinctions are far less useful, and all Mongolians are basicly huddled together as being of one ethnicity and one people. In total there are over 8 million Mongolians living within Chinese borders. They are a very important and large group, who of late have been re-asserting themselves.
On a national scale (P.R.C.) Mongolians comprise around 8 % of the population. Within the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region the percentage of ethnic Mongolians in the population is roughly 20%.

Although their numbers dwarf in comparison to the two main ethnic groups, there are however a significant number of other ethnic minorities to be found within Inner Mongolia. There are 10 in total, including the Oroqen, the Evenki (Ewenki), the Xibe, The Morin Dawa Daur (situated near Morin Dawa their homeland), the Manchu's (Nuzhen), Russians (Eluosi) and even Chaoxian (Koreans). The Minfa, North Korean Chaoxian Minzu Village on the border of Hulunbuir League and Heilonjiang Province is a special case entirely.
Most of the Manchu-Tungusic Peoples, live in the North in Da Hinggan League and Hulunbuir League, as do the Koreans (Chaoxian).
Last but not least should be noted the ever present Hui islamic ethnic group, who have large settlements within the south-west of Inner Mongolia (Alxa League, Bayan Nur League, Wuhai City Prefecture and Ordos City Prefecture) but have spread throughout the territory. Having only two historical landmarks in the capital Hohhot , one is a Buddhist Temple, the second a Mosque.
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As described in detail in the chapter on the Mongolian Ethnic Minority in The Peoples Republic of China, the Mongolians have their own history, spoken and written language which, by and large, developed entirely independent from the (Han) Chinese Culture.  To be more exact, although 'China' , the settled and agricultural homeland of the Han, had been struggling with hostile tribes and kingdoms to their norther border for a 1000 years already, the ancestors of today's Mongolian Tribes only arrived in what today is considered Mongolia, as late as the 10Th Century AD.
Before that time, entirely other tribes were at war with China and the Han. Only some time after these tribes had been defeated by the Chinese and had moved away did the Mongolians move in with their herds, originating from somewhere in Central Asia.
The first surviving Chinese record of the presence of the 'Mongolians' in the north beyond Chinese borders is handed down from the 11th century, an dates to a foreign rule over 'China' achieved by the semi-nomadic Khitan People, who created the Liao Dynasty (907 AD - 1125 AD, also known as the Khitan Empire (契丹國)) which ruled large parts of North China including today's Beijing.

As most people know today, sometime after their arrival in the northern steppes the Mongolians became a leading tribe among the many forever feuding nomadic peoples of the North. Eventually, in the 12Th Century, they were united under one Banner and led into conquest under the Leadership of Genghis Khan, and after his demise, his offspring. In the largest conquest in world history, the Mongolian Tribes then took control not only of what today is considered as 'Mongolia' but also of China and nearly the entire Eurasian continent as well.
Although today all of that is ancient history, and the Mongolians have long since been driven from China and the continent returning to their traditional lifestyles on the endless Steppes, the impressive history of the Mongolians remains of the utmost importance today. That is, even today Mongolians have a strong sense of the distinctness of their own culture and sense of Nationality.
Forming a very distinct cultural and ethnic group, the Mongolians occupy a very large region including territories well outside of the current Chinese borders, in The Republic of Mongolia as well as the Russian Federation. To the Mongolians, the Chinese remain 'different', and are Foreigners, although today everyone occupies the same lands and territories. The cultural bond with the independent nation of Mongolians in The Republic of Mongolia remains strong and of great influence.

Although blessed with a grandiose history and having perhaps enjoying a rather blood thirsty reputation, today's Mongolians living within Inner-Mongolia are mainly peaceful nomadic herders who still live a nomadic or semi-nomadic lifestyle on the grasslands and steppes of the large region. Naturally, Mongolians too have modernized, and many can be found in the city as well.
To find the Mongolians, no true destination can be given, as the Mongolian territories occupy all of Mongolia and Inner Mongolia, their regions of inhabitation in China spanning between the eastern reaches of Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region in the West, and the Hulunbuir League (Region) bordering the Russian Federation and Heilongjiang Province in the East.
In Inner Mongolia it is easier to specify where the least Mongolians are to be found: that being around the Yellow River bend and cities, and to a lesser extend inside the homelands of the Daur, Oroqen , Evenki and Xibe People in the far north-east in Manchuria. The far North-East of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, although also inhabited by Mongolians, is considered the traditional homelands of the Manchu-Tungusic People (Manchu (Nuzhen), Xibe, Evenki, Oroqen and Daur).  Due to the presence of the historic China Far ast Railway, a branch line of the Trans-Siberian Railway, there is also a large presence of
Russian migrants in these parts.

Apart from living in Inner Mongolia, large groups of Mongolians can also be found living within (mainly eastern) Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, and in Qinghai Province and Gansu Province of China. Another Mongolian 'enclave' exists in the city of Baicheng, which is technically part of Jilin Province, but culturally part of Inner Mongolia. Outside of these main area's of inhabitation, there are several other ethnic autonomous townships and counties, often of a mixed nature, where Mongolians can be found.

For Full information on the location of all Mongolian Ethnic Autonomous Communities within China, please read: ' Mongol Ethnic Autonomous Regions, Prefectures and Townships in China '.
As mentioned, the rugged and forested north-east is regarded as the homeland of the Manchu rather than the Mongolians, and in history the Mongolians have seen many a invasion from the Tribes in that region. Before the rise of the Mongolians there were the Khitans and the Jurchen who went on the capture large swaths of lands in North-East Asia. After them, the Manchu rose as the ruling Minority over China in the Qing Dynasty (1644 AD - 1911 AD) and ruled even over the South of China.
Today however, these regions are mostly peaceful and, since, the advent of The Peoples Republic of China and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, taken on the whole, the various tribes or ethnic groups of the regions live peacefully side by side, although somewhat seperated living in their own autonomous townships and counties. In these days, the main influx of 'Foreign' peoples comes from across the border of Inner Mongolia, in the first place from Chinese immigrants who move away from the crowded inland and from Russian cross-border traders, many of whom settle along the border in the towns of Manzhouli and Hailar. A third 'invasion' occurs more seasonally, and is made up up of Chinese tourists and foreign travelers who come to the regions to try and find some of the traditional Mongolian Culture and enjoy the wide open spaces and natural wonders of Hulunbuir and Hinggan.

In the central and southern regions of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the situation is remarkably different.
Historically, the Yellow River's lower reaches are known as the craddle of Chinese (Han) Civilization and the bend of the Yellow River  was first conquered and occupied by the armies of China's 'First Emperor' during the reign of Qi'In Dynasty (221 BC - 206 BC). After this first settlement of the fertile yellow river valley, its reaches would be hotly contested between the Han and various Peoples and Tribes living to the North for the next 2000 years. Since the Q'in and Han Dynasties, many battles have raged over this fertile northern border in the centuries past, and yes, in many ways the entire
construction of the Great Wall of China can be directly linked back to this dispute. It is not only a dispute between to neighboring and competing nations over land and resources, but a much larger and perhaps epic struggle, one between two very distinct lifestyles: the all consuming culture of the settled people, picthed againt the much more eco-friendly but seemingly primitive lifestyle of the original inhabitants, people who have adapted their way of life to the demands and opportunities provided by the Land.
In a sense this conflict continues today as most Han migrants occupy the southern reaches of the Inner Mongolian territory, where agriculture and industry is most viable. Today, the Mongolian minority within Inner Mongolia again faces a migration of Han Chinese, who this time are moving beyond their cities in a quest to mine coal and ores, or find the rare earth minerals that are mostly found within the open lands of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous
Region, which are also the traditional grazing lands of the Mongolian Herders. Once more infringing upon the traditional Mongolian lifestyle, large open cast mines, industrial projects and new roads pollute and destroy the environment, which is already in dire stress from global climatic changes and more local problems of disappearing lakes and ongoing desertification.
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Today the Mongolians in China find themselves under threat from the (Han) Chinese rather than the other way around. As a result of this perceived advance and infringement on their already difficult lives resentment has been growing among the Mongolian Ethnic population. A Last curse of the Great Wall of China may very well be that it was vanquished and made redundant by the Manchu, a so called primitive people who had their eyes on the riches of China. Made redundant by their Qing Dynasty, the Great Wall was no longer a barier and eversince the Han have been coming north to meet the tribes of the North.

Partially inspired by a coinciding rise of National Pride in Mongolia, which has a booming economy based on the mining industry, and frustrated with their perceived marginalization and lack of autonomy within China, in the year 2011 a situation of unease persist throughout Inner Mongolia. Starting on May 26Th of 2011, clashes between Mongolian youth and local Government and Police have occurred in Xilin Hot and other population centers. According to sources among which the New York Times, students of Hohhot Nationality University were locked inside their gates for five days or more to prevent them from taking to the streets, mass arrests have occured and internet access from the region has been severely restricted.
No mention has been made of the participation or sympathisation of other ethnic groups residing in the regions.

For all General information concerning the Manchu-Tungusic Peoples in The Peoples Republic of China, please refer to: Section: 'Ethnic Minorities in China', Chapter:  'Manchu-Tungusic Peoples, descendants of the Jurchen and XiaoBei in China'.



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