This study of cities on China's inland frontiers from ancient times to the present charts new territory in both geography and Chinese studies. It integrates the approaches of urban geography, cultural historical geography, and frontier studies to assess the form and function of cities on the Chinese frontiers. It is the first work to explore the nature of urbanism on Chinese frontiers, and the first work in English to present comparative case studies of a group of Chinese frontier cities. The author explores how the urban ideals and practices of eastern China were adapted to the natural and human conditions of the frontier regions, and in the process she analyses the interaction of Chinese and non-Chinese peoples in frontier cities. She shows how a distinctive frontier urban form emerged, which while adhering mainly to eastern Chinese practice, also incorporated a certain degree of diversity, especially in monumental and vernacular architecture.