About Inner Mongolia

Home> About Inner Mongolia

Water and wetlands


The region has more than 1,000 rivers, including China's second largest, the Yellow River, which enters Inner Mongolia from Ningxia's Shizui Mountain and forms a U-shape.


The region has more than 1,000 rivers, including China's second largest, the Yellow River, which enters Inner Mongolia from Ningxia's Shizui Mountain and forms a U-shape. There are 107 rivers with a drainage area of more than 1,000 sq km and nearly 1,000 lakes.

Its surface water is about 40.66 billion cubic meters and its total water resources, 54.6 billion cu m, or 1.92 percent of the country's total. The Yellow River has about 5.86 billion cu m and the Heihe River, 800 million. Annual available water resources are about 28.5 billion cu m with an annual per capita of water estimated at 2,200 cu m. The average water per hectare of cultivated land is 7,600 cu m.

The quantity of annual underground water resources in the autonomous region is 23.6 billion cubic meters, of which 9.7 billion cubic meters is also surface water. With the influence of atmospheric precipitation as well as human activities, the distribution of underground water differs in that plains are rich in access whereas hilly regions and continental rivers are rare.


Inner Mongolia has four types of wetlands, including rivers, lakes, swamps and man-made wetlands, with a total area of 901.59 million mu, accounting for 5.08 percent of the territory of the autonomous region and 11.25 percent of the national wetland area, ranking it third in size in the country.

Of these, natural wetlands (including river wetlands, lake wetlands and marsh wetlands) covered 88.18 million mu, accounting for 97.81 percent of the total wetland area; and artificial wetlands in 2018 covered 19.77 million mu, accounting for 2.19 percent of the total wetland area.

The largest wetland area in Inner Mongolia is the Nenjiangyuan wetland area, with an area of 6.28 million mu; the wetland area of Hulun Lake National Nature Reserve ranks second, with an area of 4.26 million mu; and the Nomin River wetland area ranks third, with an area of 3.82 million mu.

The area of wetlands included in the protection system in the whole area is 28.18 million mu, accounting for 31.26 percent of the total area of wetlands in the autonomous region.

Desertification and sandification

According to the fifth national desertification and desertification monitoring results, as of the end of 2014, the desertification land area of Inner Mongolia was 914 million mu, accounting for 51.50 percent of the territory of the autonomous region at the time.

Out of the total, the area of extremely severe desertification in 2014 covered 11.62 million mu, the area of severe desertification was 82.84 million mu, the area of moderate desertification was 25,109.10 million mu and the area of mild desertification was 46.36 million mu.

The desertification area was distributed over 80 counties and districts of 12 cities.

Of this, the desertification land area of Alshaa League was the largest, with 24,617,700 mu; and the desertification land of Xilin Gol League had the highest land desertification proportion, accounting for 97.91 percent of the monitoring area.

The total area of desertified land in the autonomous region in 2014 was 612 million mu, accounting for 34.48 percent of the territory of Inner Mongolia. This was distributed in 91 banners and counties of 12 allied cities in Inner Mongolia.

Of the total, extremely heavily desertified land area covered 20,099 million mu, the heavy area was 11.71 million mu, the moderate area was 13.64 million mu and the mild area was 15,736.05 million mu.

There are five major deserts in the autonomous region, including Badain Jaran, Tengger, Ulan Buhe, Bayin Wendur and Kubuqi, with a total land area of 171.14 million mu and desertified land of 16.41 million mu.

The autonomous region also has five sandy lands: Hulunbuir, Horqin and Wuzhu Muqin, Hunshandake and Maowusu, with a total land area of 209.523 million mu and desertified land area of 126.69 million mu.