In this article, we extensively discuss Northwest China – its location, its provinces, and its cities. We also acquaint you with a few geographical features and monuments that Northwest China is known for.
Northwest China is regarded as the statistical region of China. It is comprised of the autonomous regions of Xinjiang and Ningxia as well as the provinces of Gansu, Shaanxi, and Qinghai. The climate in Northwest China is arid, but the terrain exposes the most beautiful parts of China. It is in Northwest China that you come across the historic Silk Road that meanders from its Eastern terminus at Xi’an city across the unique deserts and high mountains through Central Asia and on to Europe. As a traveler, you are sure to feel the extremes of Chinese whether when traveling across Northwest China. Also, you get a chance to engage with several historical monuments and plenty of tourist attraction sites.
What is Northwest China known for?
Northwest China is known for its multiple places of interest where tourists visit, typically for their inherent natural and cultural value as well as their historical significance. While there are several things to do in Northwest China, we will discuss 5 of the place and attraction sites that Northwest China is known for in this section. Some of these places are;
The Terracotta Warrior Museum
Among the most important archeological sensations of the 20th century, was the 1974 discovery of the life-sized terracotta warriors near Xi’an. The terracotta warriors, a form of funerary art, are life-sized sculptures depicting armies of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, and they are part of the wonders of the world.
The Bell Tower of Xi’an
The Bell Tower is the largest and most preserved ancient tower in China that serves a historical and cultural significance. Supposedly, the tower was built to expel a huge underground snake from the Chinese land. After its construction, in the 14th century under Zhu Yuanzhang (first emperor of the Ming Dynasty), the earthquakes stopped happening. The huge bell on the tower announces the start of the day to Xi’an citizens.
The Tang Dynasty Show
The Tang Dynasty was considered the most glorious and prosperous of them all. The Tang dynasty show is recognized as the premier pseudo-classic show in China and is among the most excellent performances that fully display the heritage of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
The Xi’an Great Mosque
The Xi’an great mosque features an aesthetic blend of Chinese and Islamic architecture, which is unique. It dates back to the 6th century and it is a 1,000-capacity prayer hall that is only open to male worshippers.
Northwest China provinces
The provinces in Northwest China are;
Shaanxi is a landlocked province with a large population. It is geographically divided into 3 parts, that is Southern, Northern, and Central Shaanxi. Central Shaanxi is where the majority of Shaanxi’s population resides. Northern Shaanxi makes up the southeastern part of the Ordos Basin and features the two prefectural cities of Yan’an and Yulin. Southern Shaanxi is comprised of the 3 prefectural cities on the edge of the historical region south of the Qinling Mountains and has 3 mountainous cities, that is, Shangluo, Hanzhong, and Ankang. The majority of the Shaanxi population are Han Chinese, and the most commonly spoken language is Mandarin, including southwestern Mandarin and Zhongyuan Mandarin. Also, a little bit of Jin is spoken. The province heavily invests in fossil fuel and high technology sectors and produces manufacturing equipment for China’s domestic commercial aviation industry.
Gansu is landlocked and is among the poorest administrative divisions in China. A vast major of its population is Han Chinese, but it is quite easy to come across Dongxiang, Tibetan, and Hui minorities. It is an important strategic outpost and communication link in the Chinese empire as it features the North Silk Road that runs through the Hexi Corridor and passes through Gansu. It houses the popular city of Jiayugua, which is known for its section of the Jiayuguan Pass fortress complex and the Great Wall.
Qinghai is also another landlocked province in northwest China. It was established in 1928 under the republic of China period, and at the time, it was ruled by the Ma clique, who were the Chinese Muslim warlords. It is named after Qinghai Lake, and it has been a melting pot for several ethnic groups, including Hui, Tibetans, Salars, Han, Tu, and Mongols.
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Province
Ningxia is also another landlocked province. Formerly, in 1954, it was incorporated into Gansu but was separated from Gansu and reconstituted as an autonomous region for the Hui people. An extensive system of canals has been built from the Qin dynasty, and together with extensive land reclamation and irrigation projects, increased cultivation is possible. In the 11th-13th century, it was the core area of the Western Xia established by the Tangut people. The Tanguts made significant Acheng in areas such as art, literature, architecture, and music. Ningxia is popular for winemaking and viticulture as well as the cultivation of wolfberries used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Xinjiang is an autonomous region of the people’s republic of china and is officially known as the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. It is home to several ethnic groups, including the Kazakhs and Kyrgyz, Hui, Russians, Turkic Uyghur, Mongols, Tajiks, the Han, Sibe, and Tibetans. Only a small portion of it, however, is fit for human habitation. In recent decades, oil and mineral reserves have been found in Xinjiang, and it is said to be China’s largest natural gas-producing territory.
From around the 1999s to the late 2010s, the influence of radical Islam, the East Turkestan independence movement, and the separatist conflict have caused political unrest in the region with frequent terrorist attacks and chaos between the separatist and government forces. Because of these clashes, the area remains inhabitable and unsafe.
Northwest China cities
The Northwest China cities are;
Xi’an is the capital city of Shaanxi province and is identified as one of the oldest cities in China and the oldest prefecture capital as it held these positions under multiple Chinese dynasties, including Qin, Tang, Sui, Western Zhou, Northern Zhou, and Western Han. Following the economic growth of inland China, it has re-emerged as a political, educational, and cultural center of the central-northwest region of China, with many facilities for national security, research and development, and space exploration. It administers 11 districts and 2 counties and holds a sub-provincial status. Also, it is one of the top 40 science cities as identified by the Nature Index. It houses major universities such as S Northwest University, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an Jiaotong University, Shaanxi Normal University, and Xidian University.
Previously, Ürümqi was known as Tihwa or Dihua, and it is the capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region Province. During the Tang Dynasty, it was a major hub on the Silk Road and developed its reputation as a leading commercial and cultural center in the Qing Dynasty that existed in the 19th century.
In terms of population, it is the 2nd-largest city in the northwestern interior of China and has the largest population in the country. The Guinness Book of Records identifies Ürümqi as the most remote city from any sea in the world. Even so, it has had notable economic development rates since the 1990s, and currently, it is a regional transport node and a commercial center. It is also a popular education, knowledge acquisition, and scientific hub as it houses the comprehensive Xinjiang University with the highest academic level in Xinjiang.
Lanzhou is the capital of Gansu Province and the largest city in the same province. It is found on the banks do the Yellow River, hence an essential transportation hub that connects the areas further west to the eastern half of the country by rail. Also, it is a major hub on the New Eurasian Land Bridge and is a major link on the northern Silk Road. Also, it is a center for the petrochemical industry and heavy industry. It houses several accredited research institutions in China, such as Lanzhou University, one of China’s prestigious universities.
Yinchuan is the capital city of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. In ancient times, it was the capital of the Western Xia Empire of the Tanguts. The name ‘Yinchuan’ means Silver River. It has exquisite natural scenery and is one of the regions with the most favorable conditions for agriculture, which gives it the name ‘Home to Fish and Rice’. Currently, it serves as the permanent site for the China-Arab Expo, an international platform for economic and cultural exchanges between Arabian and Chinese countries. Also, the city hosts the largest regional comprehensive university, Ningxia University, under project 211 in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.
Xining is the largest city on the Tibetan Plateau and the capital city of Qinghai province in western China. It is located in the Huangshui River gallery, which explains its high altitude and cool climate. For over 2000 years, Xining city was a commercial along the Hexi Corridor of the Northern Silk Road, and a stronghold of the Song, Sui, Han, and Tang dynasties’ resistance against any nomadic attacks that came from the west. The city is also significant to Muslims and Buddhists as it holds sites of religious significance, such as the Ta’er Monastery and the Dongguan Mosque. Xining city houses Qinghai University, which the only project 211 universities in Xining and a comprehensive university.
Northwest China is filled with multiple tourist attraction sites that have cultural and historical significance to China. It is also known for its great deserts, including the Gobi and Taklaman deserts. While the cold, rocky plateau and the high mountains make it slightly difficult to travel through this area to inner China, the scenery is often pleasing to the eye and advances China’s economy through tourism.