Ningxia <<ning shee yah>> is an autonomous region in north-central China. The Chinese government created the autonomous regions for China’s largest minority groups. The autonomous regions operate under the central government, but they have authority to pass laws related to ethnic group affairs. The Hui (Chinese Muslims) are the largest of Ningxia’s ethnic minority groups. The province’s full name is the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. The region’s name is sometimes spelled Ningsia.
Yinchuan is Ningxia’s capital and largest city. Much of Ningxia’s land is good for grazing livestock. Most farming takes place on irrigated plains near the Huang He (Yellow River) in the north or the Qingshui River in the south. Mountains rise in southern and western Ningxia.
Chinese irrigation systems along the Huang He in what is now Ningxia date back to the 200’s B.C. In the A.D. 900’s, Chinese control of the region weakened. The Tanguts, a Buddhist people related to the Tibetans, established the powerful kingdom of Xi Xia. During the 1200’s, the Mongols conquered both Xi Xia and China. In addition, settlement by Muslims from central Asia began to grow.
In the mid-1800’s, many Hui in Ningxia and other parts of northwestern China rebelled, but the Chinese government brutally crushed the rebellion. In 1920, a massive earthquake centered in southwestern Ningxia killed about 200,000 people. Ningxia became a province in 1928. The Chinese government established Ningxia as an autonomous region in 1958.