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Ningxia Cities

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Yinchuan

Yinchuan is the capital of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, China, and former capital of the Western Xia Empire of the Tanguts. It has an area of 4,467 km² and a total population of 1.65 million. The name literally means "silver river". (The character for "river" is the same as that in Sichuan, but not as those in Huang He (Yellow River) or Chang Jiang).

Geography
Yinchuan lies in the middle of the Yinchuan or Ningxia Plain. It is sheltered from the deserts of Mongolia by the high ranges of the Helan Mountain to its west. The Yellow River runs through Yinchuan from southwest to northeast. The average elevation of Yinchuan is 1,100 meters (about 3,608 feet). The urban center of Yinchuan lies about halfway between the Yellow River and the edge of Helan Mountain.

Climate
Yinchuan has a temperate continental climate with an annual average temperature of 8.5C, and has 158 frost-free days. Annual rainfall averages 200 millimeters.

History
Yinchuan originally was a xian (county) under the name of Fuping in the 1st century BC; its name was changed to Huaiyuan in the 6th century AD. After the fall of the Tang dynasty in 907, it was occupied by the Tangut Xi-Xia dynasty, of which it was the capital. After the destruction of the Xi-Xia dynasty by the Mongols in 1227, it came under the rule of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Under the Ming (1368 - 1644) and Qing (1644 - 1911) dynasties, it was the fu (prefecture) of Ningxia. In 1928, when the province of Ningxia was formed from parts of Gansu and Inner Mongolia, it became the capital city. In 1954, when Ningxia province was abolished, the city was put in Gansu province; but, with the establishment of the Ningxia Hui autonomous region in 1958, Yinchuan once again became the capital.

Traditionally, Yinchuan was an administrative and commercial center. In the 1950s it had many commercial enterprises, and there were some handicrafts but no modern industry. The city has since grown considerably. Extensive coal deposits discovered on the eastern bank of the Yellow River, near Shizuishan, 100 km to the north, have made Shizuishan a coal-mining center.

Yinchuan, however, remains largely nonindustrial. The immediate plains area, intensively irrigated by a system developed as long ago as the Han (206 BC - AD 220) and Tang (618 - 907) dynasties, is extremely productive. Yinchuan is the chief agricultural market and distribution center for this area and also deals in animal products from the herds tended by nomads in the surrounding grasslands. It is a market for grain and has flour mills, as well as rice-hulling and oil-extraction plants. The wool produced in the surrounding plains supplies a woolen-textile mill. Yinchuan is a center for the Muslim (Hui) minority peoples, who constitute a third of the population.

On July 23, 1993 an airliner that was attempting its second takeoff veered off the runway, crashed into a lake, and broke apart; at least 59 of the 113 persons aboard the craft were killed

Tourism
The city's attractions include the Sand Lake Scenic Area and the Western Xia tombs. There are two pagodas in Yinchuan that are part of the 'Eight Famous Scenery of Ningxia': one is the Haibao Pagoda in the northern suburb and the other is the Chengtiansi Pagoda in the west.

Since 2000, Yinchuan has hosted the annual Yinchuan International Car and Motorcycle Tourism Festival, which usually occurs in August. It is the largest event of its kind in China; approximately 3000 motorcycles attend annually.

It is also possible to see parts of the Great Wall which are located near the city.

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