Inner Mongolia (内蒙古, Nèi Měnggǔ or in Mongolian, Öbür mongɣul) is a Mongol Autonomous Region in northern China, where as Outer Mongolia is a separate country to the north of China. The region covers most of the northern edge of china, curving in a banana shape. To the north is the Republic of Mongolia and the north east tip of Inner Mongolia borders with Russia. The other borders of the region are with other Chinese provinces, going clock wise form the north east they are Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning, Hebei, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, and Gansu.
Inner Mongolia is a large region stretched across the northern edge of China. It has a relatively low population density the majority of which are Han Chinese. About 17% of the population is ethnic Mongolian. The region is officially an Autonomous Region for the Mongolian people within China. The east of Inner Mongolia consists of wide grass meadow lands, forests and mountains. The west of the region is made up of scorching hot dry deserts. Traditional Mongolian nomadic lifestyle can still be seen in the region and yurts (mongolian tents) are not an uncommon site in the wide spaces between the cities. Despite the fact that ethnic Mongols form a minority in the region, the number of ethnic Mongols holding Chinese citizenship is almost twice the population of the independent country of Mongolia.
The main religion in the area practiced by the Mongol minority is Lamaist Buddhism, similar to that found in Tibet and the Republic of Mongolia. Lama temples are common throughout the region.
Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) (酒泉卫星发射中心) is in Inner Mongolia and is the site of most of China's rocket launches. It is in a remote area and not open to the public. (The city of Jiuquan lies over 100km away in the neighboring province of Gansu.)
Mongolian is co-official with Mandarin in the area. There are different dialects of both spoken throughout the region. The north east of the province speak with a Dongbei accent that is very similar to standard Mandarin Chinese. Central areas speak the Jin dialect of Chinese. The two dialects are mutually unintelligible. The official dialect of Mongolian is Chahar and is distinct form the dialect use in Outer Mongolia. The Mongolian language and population is primarily located in the northern and border regions of the province with the neighboring Republic of Mongolia to the north. Nevertheless, most ethnic Mongols are bilingual in Mongolian and Mandarin, so unless you approach the elderly, Mandarin speakers should not have any problems communicating.
Writing on signs, menus and other documents are usually bilingual in Mongolian and Chinese. The Mongolian script here follows the traditional style (vertical), in contrast with the Republic of Mongolia which adopted the Cyrillic script due to previous Russian/Soviet influences.
There are nine public airports in Inner Mongolia. Most only receive domestic flights so requiring foreign visitors to transfer at one of the major cities of China before reaching Inner Mongolia. There are international flights form Hohhot to Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia run by MIAT Mongolian Airlines.
Many cities of Inner Mongolia are connected to the Chinese rail network giving access to the region from neighbouring provinces. The Trans-Mongolian railway connects from Beijing via Datong in Shanxi province to the city of Jining in Inner Mongolia and north through Erenhot, in north central Inner Mongolia, to Ulaanbaatar in Outer Mongolia and onwards to Siberia in Russia. The north Eastern end of Inner Mongolia is traversed by rail routes connecting Russian Siberia to Haerbin in Heilongjiang Province and through to the Russian Far East.
The central area of Inner mongolia is connected to a rail route that spans form Liaoning and Jilin provinces through Tongliao city in the east of Inner Mongolia, on across the Trans-Mongolian railway at Jining (Inner Mongolia), to Hohhot. Then the line runs westward again until Wuhai city where the route exits Inner Mongolia, running just south of the border in the neighbouring provinces before turning north again and terminating in Ejin Qi in Western Inner Mongolia. Several branches run off of this to other cities. The north east of Inner Mongolia is not connected directly to the other cities of Inner Mongolia but is crossed by railways originating in Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang provinces.
The international airport in Honhot has connections to the other eight airports in Inner Mongolia. All Inner Mongolian airports also connect to Beijing. Thus it is possible to travel from one end of the region to the other by air. However, the frequency of flights to these small airports is low.
Traditional Mongolian food is found throughout Inner Mongolia. This is typically high in dairy produce such as milk, yoghurt and cheese. The traditional Mongolian milk tea is exceptionally good. Meats, especially lamb, form most meals. The meat is usually roasted with a coating of spices to give a strong distinctive flavour. Similar with many areas of China, the Hotpot is a popular style of cooking. Mongolian hotpot usually has a well flavoured soup but without the hot spices of central China.
Mongolian milk tea is distinctive to this region and frequently served in hotels along with breakfast. Some brands of Mongolian bottle water are known for their purity or special mineral content.
It is possible to travel to the Republic of Mongolia, (Outer Mongolia) and Russia from here by both road and rail. There are good connections into the southern neighbouring provinces of China.