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Ningxia

Ningxia (Simplified Chinese: ; Traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: Nngxi; Wade-Giles: Ning-hsia; Postal map spelling: Ningsia), full name Ningxia Hui Autonomous Regiona Hui autonomous region of the People's Republic of China, located in the northwest of the country on part of the Loess highland. Ningxia borders Shaanxi to the west, Gansu to the east, and Inner Mongolia autonomous region to the north. The region's capital city is Yinchuan.

Ningxia, a stop along the Silk Road, had been influenced by Islam early in its history, many citizens converting to Islam through contact with Muslim merchants. The presence of the Hui ethnic group, with pronounced Arab and Persian features, may have enhanced the pervasive impact of Islam upon Ningxia culture and history. Prior to the arrival of Islam, Buddhism and tradition Chinese culture had a powerful impact on the province.

Geography

Shapotou, location of the Tengger Desert
Shapotou, location of the Tengger Desert

Ningxia is a relatively dry, desert-like region, which is a characteristic shared by much of northern China. The semi-arid, Loess Plateau occupies the southern and eastern part of the province, while the Ningxia Plain stretches across the northern part, with the Yellow River running through it. The largest desert in the region is the Tengger desert in Shapotou.

While the province is dry, there is enough significant irrigation to support the growing of a variety of crops, including wolfberry, which is a commonly consumed fruit throughout the region and throughout China as a whole. The Yellow River flows through the north, providing the largest source of irrigation. The Yellow River basin, with its various tributaries, covers nearly 75 percent of Ningxia's total land area. In addition, the Qingshui River flows through the center of the southern portion of the province, and flows northward to meet the Yellow River.

The region is 1,200 km from the sea and has a continental climate with average summer temperatures rising to between 17 and 24C in July and average winter temperatures dropping to between -7 and -10C in January. Seasonal extreme temperatures can reach 39C in summer and -30C in winter. The diurnal temperature variation in summer is 17C. Annual rainfall averages from 190 to 700 millimeters, with more rain falling in the south of the region.

Economy

Agriculture serves as an important part of Ningxia's economy, with most of the crops being grown along the main waterways of the Yellow River basin. Some of the region's basic crops include: wheat, millet, potatoes, corn, sorghum, rapeseed, soybeans, flax, and hemp. In addition to these however, Ningxia is also the principal region of China where wolfberries are grown. These fruits are known for their tremendous nutritional value, as they are some of the only fruits to contain not only vitamins and anti-oxidants, but also protein. The most robust variety of wolfberries are reputed to be found in Ningxia, which makes them especially important in the region.

Ningxia is rich in mineral resources, with verified deposits of 50 kinds of minerals including coal, gypsum (for which it leads all of China), oil, natural gas, pottery clay, quartz sandstone, and barite. There are also sizable quantities of phosphorus, firestone, copper, iron, and a variety of other minerals.

Industry in Ningxia has developed very rapidly in the last few decades, as China has experienced its economic boom. Many different industrial enterprises have been created, including coal, electric power, metallurgy, petroleum, heavy machinery, chemicals, building materials, textiles, synthetic fabrics, and plastics. These various industries have created a strong and relatively full system of industry for the region.

Ningxia is the province with the third smallest GDP (Tibet being the last) in the entire People's Republic of China. Its nominal GDP in 2006 was just 70.7 billion yuan (US $9.2 billion) and a per capita GDP of 11,784 yuan (US$1,517). It contributes 0.3 percent of the national economy.

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