Natural Regions, Northwest China
driest desert, tall mountains, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, northern edge, glaciers
Northwest China is geographically and historically closely related to Central Asia. It features tall mountains, glaciers, deserts, broad basins, and streams with no outlet to the sea. From east to west, Northwest China extends from the Inner Mongolian Grasslands to the country’s northwestern border. The region’s southern boundary is the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Administratively, the region includes the vast majority of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and small portions of Gansu Province and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
Northwest China includes the lofty Tian Shan mountains and three basins—the Junggar Pendi in the north, the Tarim Pendi in the south, and the smaller Turpan Pendi near the southeastern edge of the Tian Shan. Although the Junggar Pendi contains areas of sandy and stony desert, it is primarily a region of fertile steppe soils and supports irrigated agriculture. The Tarim Pendi contains the vast, sandy Takla Makan, the driest desert in Asia. Dune ridges in its interior rise to elevations of about 100 m (about 330 ft). The Turpan Pendi, the largest area in China with elevations below sea level, commands the southern entrance of a major pass through the Tian Shan.
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