Ningxia China sits at the northwest reaches of the Loess Plateau in the Yellow River’s upper and middle areas. The river has played an important position in the development of the area, creating a rich cultural heritage. Within a population of more than six million, roughly 30 percent are part of the ethnic Hui group, bringing about the nickname “Province of Muslim” or “Province of Islam.” The Hui are one of more than 50 of China’s recognized nationalities. In 1954, Ningxia became part of Gansu, but was later amended as an autonomous region specifically for the Hui people. Historically, Ningxia was a central hub for transportation and trade between 206BC and 906AD during the height of the Tang and Han Dynasties.
The region’s capital is Yinchuan City, located in China’s remote northwest area. More than 1,000 years old, the city is culturally famous sitting on the outside limits of the Great Wall. Peaceful and verdant, Yinchuan City’s old section comprises a large part of the top attractions. It is home to the Haibao Pagoda, a commanding temple with a 1,500-year history. The West Xia Kingdom’s Chengtiansi Pagoda boasts renowned Buddhist architecture. The “Pyramids of China” are also in Ningxia, more commonly known as the Western Xia Imperial Tombs. Sand dunes, birds, and scores of fish reside in and around Sand Lake and the Sand Lake Scenic Resort, which is a beloved bird-watching location between May through September when black storks, swans, wild geese, and grey and white cranes can be seen. Liupan Mountain is another big attraction—arresting beauty can be seen throughout its flourishing backdrop.
The hills around Ningxia, Shandong, and Shanxi have, more recently, gained international interest as China’s newest wine growing regions. They are home to grapes including Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay. The country is now even a step ahead on the international wine market, producing more wine than top wine-makers like Chile, leading the way as the world’s fifth-biggest wine maker. In Ningxia, Bordeaux-style wines have been the most popular type of locally produced wine, even winning international wine competitions. With gaining success, the foothills of the Helan Mountains in Ningxia have been given the green light for further wine production by Chinese authorities.