In Chinese, the region is known as "InnerMongolia", where the terms of "Inner/Outer" are derived from Manchu dorgi/tulergi. Inner Mongolia is distinct fromOuter Mongolia, which was a term usedby the Republic of China and previousgovernments to refer to what is now theindependent state of Mongolia plus theRepublic of Tuva in Russia. In Mongolian,the region is known as south, inner, front,bosom, breast. Some Mongolians use thename "Southern Mongolia" in English aswell.
Throughout most of history and time,central and western Inner Mongolia,especially the Hetao region, alternated incontrol between Chinese agriculturalistsin the south and Xiongnu, Xianbei , Khitan,Jurchen, Tujue, and Mongol nomadsof the north. Eastern Inner Mongolia isproperly speaking a part of Manchuria ,and its historical narrative consists moreof alternations between different groupsthere rather than the struggle betweennomads and Chinese agriculturalists.
Officially Inner Mongolia is classified asone of the provincial-level divisions of North China, but its great stretch meansthat parts of it belong to NortheastChina and Northwest China as well. Itborders eight provincial-level divisionsin all three of the aforementionedregions (see the introduction for a list),thus tying with Shaanxi for the greatestnumber of bordering provincial-leveldivisions. Most of its internationalborder is with Mongolia, which, inChinese, is sometimes called "OuterMongolia", while a small portion is withRussia.Due to its size, Inner Mongolia has awide variety of temperatures but thefollowing climactic characteristics applyprovincial-wide: four-season monsoon-influenced climate, with long, cold, verydry winters, quick and dry springtimeand autumnal transitions (the former of which is prone to sandstorms), and verywarm to hot summers. Generally, coldarid or steppe climatic regimes (KoppenBWk, BSk, respectively) dominate, butthere are some areas classified as humidcontinental (Koppen Dwb), locatedprimarily in higher elevations and in thenortheast, and subarctic (Koppen Dwc),located in the far north.
Inner Mongolia is divided into 12prefecture-level divisions. Until thelate 1990s, most of Inner Mongolia'sprefectural regions were known asLeagues, a usage retained from Mongoldivisions of the Qing Dynasty. Similarly,county-level divisions are often knownas Banners. Since the 1990s, numerousLeagues have converted into prefecture-level cities, although Banners remain.The restructuring led to the conversionof primate cities in most leagues toconvert to districts administratively(Hailar, Jining, and Dongsheng). Somenewly founded prefecture-level citieshave chosen to retain the originalname of League , some have adoptedthe Chinese name of their primate city(Chifeng, Tongliao), and one League,Ikh Juu, simply renamed itself Ordos.Despite these recent administrativechanges, there is no indication that theAlxa, Hinggan, and Xilin Gol Leagues willconvert to prefecture-level cities in thenear future.