As the capital city of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, Hohhot, which, in Mongolian, means Eternal City (alternatively "Green City"), is the political, economic and cultural hub of the region. It lies in the center of the southern part of the Tumote Plain, facing the Yellow River to the south and with the rolling Yinshan Mountains to the north as its backdrop, in the area of Inner Mongolia that borders Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Hebei Provinces to the south.
The city of Hohhot was founded in 1580, circa, as an important trade and fortress city in the Mongolian empire by the ruling Mongol khan, Altan Khan. The region's commerce was characterized by agriculture, especially animal husbandry, as the terrain was especially suited to grazing. Where there is produce, there are also merchants, and Hohhot quickly became an important center of trade. Where people assemble in large numbers, they eventually also build religious edifices, and here was no exception: first a number of Buddhist temples were constructed, then Hui merchants came together to build a mosque (the Hui are traditionally Muslims), which was completed in 1693.
As the city grew, so did its fortifications. When the area came under Chinese domination again, during the Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty, a garrison town was built outside Hohhot. With the fall of Imperial China in 1911 and the rise of the Republic of China, the city of Hohhot and the garrison town outside it were merged, and the new city was named Guisui, but during the occupation of China by Japan as part of the Pacific-theatre prelude to WWII, the city of Guisui was renamed Hohhot, a name it has kept ever since.
Inner Mongolia, of which the city of Hohhot is a part, became a part of the Republic of China – or rather, it was retained as a part of China with the formation of the new Republic of China (all of Mongolia had become a part of China by the close of the Qing Dynasty), due to close links between China and what was termed "Inner Mongolia", but also in response to aggressive Mongolian nationalism at the time, which threatened the stability of the new Chinese republic and which therefore made a "buffer zone" desirable.
Though present-day Hohhot is predominantly of Han Chinese ethnic origin, there is a rich ethnic and cultural mix in the city, including Mongol, Hui, Manchu, Uyghur, and even Korean ethnic groups. Many of the Han Chinese residents of the city have arrived here from the neighboring provinces of Shaanxi, Shanxi, and Hebei in response to entrepreneurial- or employment opportunities. The primary languages are Mongolian and Mandarin Chinese. The main commerce of the area remains agriculture, with an emphasis on dairy products, but wool and leather also make up the area's produce. An artificial lake has been created on the outskirts of the city, with a large office- and housing complex surrounding it.
But Hohhot is also a city with a cultural history, and as such has a number of noteworthy historical sites – including more than 50 Buddhist temples – such as Dazhao Temple, Wusutuzhao Temple, Lamadongzhao Temple, Five-Pagoda Temple, the White Pagoda ("Wanbu Huayanjing Pagoda"), Xilituzhao Palace, Zhaojun Tomb, and the Great Mosque, completed, as indicated, in 1693, during the 32nd year of the reign (CE 1661-1722) of Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty.