Diocese of Baotou
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In a land area of approximately 27,768 square kilometers, the diocesan territory covers the prefecture-level city of Baotou, which is divided into 7 districts (Kundulun, Donghe, Qingshan, Shiguai, Bayan Obo Mining, Jiuyuan and Binhe New Districts), 1 county (Guyang County) and 2 banners (Tumed Right and Darhan Muminggan United Banners).

Population

There are 2,650,364 people, which are comprised of 37 nationalities including Han, Mongol, Manzhu and Hui.

Language

Mandarin Chinese, Baotou, Northeast and Mongol dialects are in use in the diocesan territory.

History

Catholicism was introduced to Mongolia in the 1830s. The Holy See entrusted the extensive area to the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (popularly called Scheut Fathers) in 1864. The Vicariate Apostolic of Southwestern Mongolia was erected in 1883 and renamed to Suiyuan in 1922. When the Chinese Church Hierarchy was established in 1946, Suiyuan was elevated to an archdiocese, which headed other six dioceses in the ecclesiastical prefecture.

Religious activities were disrupted for three decades due to political turmoil since the 1950s. All foreign missioners were expelled from the mainland. After China adopted the reform and open-door policy in the late 1970s, the Church gradually revived.

The government-sanctioned "open" Church authority restructured the ecclesiastical territories to form five dioceses in Inner Mongolia in accordance with civil administrative boundaries. As a result, Baotou diocese was created in 1982. It has no bishop until today. PHOTO ON TOP: The Catholic church in Baotou city's Donghe District.

Transportation

Baotou is a terminus for both the Baolan Railway and the Jingbao Railway, heading for Lanzhou in the west and Beijing in the east, respectively. The city is served by two main railway stations, Baotou East Railway Station, and Baotou Railway Station.

Baotou Airport serves the city with regular service to Beijing, Shanghai and Taiyuan. The city is connected by the Hubao Expressway to Hohhot, Inner Mongolia's capital.

Climate

Baotou features a cold semi-arid climate, marked by long, cold and very dry winters, hot, somewhat humid summers, and strong winds, especially in spring. Temperatures often fall below ?15 ?C in winter and rise above 30 ?C in summer. The annual precipitation is approximately 300 mm, with more than half of it falling in July and August alone. Due to the aridity and elevation, temperature differences between day and night can be large, especially in spring.

Economy

Through half century's unremitting efforts, Baotou's industry has grown out of nothing and developed into a large-scale industrial zone. Now it has formed a modern industrial and economic system with iron and steel, rare earth, aluminum, engineering, machinery, heavy-duty automobiles, electricity, textiles, leather products and chemicals as the main sectors. All these industries have taken considerable place in both the local and national economy.

Topography

Baotou is a prefecture-level city and the largest industrial city in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The city's Mongolian name means "place with deer", and an alternate name in Chinese is "Deer City."

It is located in the west of Inner Mongolia, which borders Mongolia to the north. The Yellow River, which flows for 214 kilometers in the prefecture, is south of the urban area itself. The Tumochuan Plateau, Hetao Plateau, and Yin Mountains cross the urban area and central part of the prefecture. Baotou City ranges in latitude from 41? 20' to 42? 40' N and in longitude from 109? 50' to 111? 25' E.

Culture

Historically speaking, Baotou's identity as a border region has extended beyond its mere military significance. The city sits on the border between Mongolian grassland and the Yellow River Plains, and has thus served as a point of cultural intersection between Mongolian and Yellow River Han civilizations. A hundred languages have been spoken in Baotou at one time or another and opportunities for communication between mountain, grassland and plains civilizations afforded by the city's development have created many new points of cultural synthesis, a benefit which has become ever more important in recent years, as the people of Inner Mongolia struggle to redefine their own cultural identity.