In the sun-parched land that is Níngxià, Yínchuān has managed to thrive. The Tangut founders chose this spot wisely as their capital, planting the city between a source of water (the Yellow River) and a natural barrier from the Gobi Desert (the Hèlán Shān mountains).
Modern-day Yínchuān is predominantly Han, although its many mosques reveal its status as the capital of the Hui peoples’ homeland. But the most interesting sights, the Western Xia Tombs and Hèlán Shān to the west of the city, predate both the Han and the Hui. Yínchuān is also a handy jumping-off point for longer trips to western Inner Mongolia.