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China's Autonomous Regions

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In China's "Autonomous Regions", a separate political division from provinces, a minority ethnic group has been designated apart from the Han Chinese. While still ruled from the central government, these regions are supposed to have more legislative authority and the ability to appoint a governor from their own ethnicity.

Practically speaking, you wouldn't walk into a booking office and say "I want to go visit an AR". People refer to these areas by their mandarin names.

There are five Autonomous Regions in China. Listed alphabetically by their names in mandarin below, click through for more information.

1. Guangxi

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Capital city: Nanning
Population: 48.9 million
Designated ethnic minority: Zhuang
Famous for: karst mountain scenery in Guilin and Yangshuo.
Map: Guangxi AR

2. Nei Meng Gu (Inner Mongolia)

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Capital city: Hohhot
Population: 23.8 million
Designated ethnic minority: Mongolian
Famous for: great grasslands and Mongolian horsemanship; historical homeland of Ghengis Khan.
Map: Nei Meng Gu AR

3. Ningxia Hui

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Capital city: Yinchuan
Population: 5.9 million
Designated ethnic minority: Hui
Famous for: the Western Xia tombs; desert scenery.
Map: Ningxia Hui AR

4. Xinjiang

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Capital city: Urumqi (or Ulumuqi) - pronounced "woo loo moo chee"
Population: 19.6 million
Designated ethnic minority: Uyghur ("wee ghur")
Famous for: lying in China's west, Xinjiang looks more Central Asian than East Asian; Karakoram Highway; stops along the ancient Silk Road, desert scenery.
Map: Xinjiang AR

5. Xizang (Tibet)

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Capital city: Lhasa
Population: 2.7 million
Designated ethnicity: Tibetan (unlike in the other ARs, the Tibetans are actually the majority population despite the government-supported migration of Han Chinese to the area).
Famous for: Tibetan Buddhism (seat of the exiled Dalai Lama); Mt. Everest and Himalayan scenery.
Map: Tibet AR
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