Originally the southern part of Mongolia, Inner Mongolia was settled chiefly by the Tumet and Chahar tribes. From 1530 to 1583, Inner Mongolia was held by Anda (Altan Khan), chief of the Tumets, who harried N China and once besieged Beijing. After his death, Likdan Khan of the Chahars became (c.1605) ruler, but in 1635 he was defeated by the Manchus, who soon annexed Inner Mongolia. Under Manchu rule S Mongolia became known as Inner Mongolia; N Mongolia, conquered by the Manchus at the end of the 17th cent., became known as Outer Mongolia.
Until 1911, Inner Mongolia was only under nominal Chinese rule; however, Chinese settlers in the region soon forced the Mongol tribes into the steppe and arid parts of the region. After the Revolution of 1911, Inner Mongolia became an integral part of the Chinese Republic. In 1928 it was divided among the Chinese provinces of Ningxia, Suiyuan, and Chahar. After the outbreak (1937) of the Sino-Japanese War, the Mongols of Suiyuan and Chahar established the Japanese-controlled state of Mengkiang or Mengjiang, with its capital at Guihua.
The Chinese Communists, after their conquest of Inner Mongolia in 1945, supported the traditional aspirations of the Mongols for autonomy, and in May, 1947, the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region—with limited powers of self-government within the Communist state—was formally proclaimed. It was the first autonomous region established by the Communist government.
From 1949 to 1956 the area of the region was expanded through the incorporation of the former province of Suiyuan and parts of the provinces of Liaobei, Rehe, Chahar, and Gansu. Extensive boundary changes in 1969, however, considerably reduced the size of the province. The W Ala Shan desert region was given to Gansu and Ningxia Autonomous Region, and the northeast corner, which bordered on Russia, was divided between the Manchurian provinces. Hebei prov. also received a section of Inner Mongolia. These border changes were reversed in 1979, and the region was restored to its former size. Hohhot has been the capital since 1952; from 1947 to 1950 the capital was at Ulanhot (Ulan Hoto), and from 1950 to 1952 it was at Zhangjiakou (Kalgan; now in Hebei prov.).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.