The Zhao Dynasty (403 BCE–222 BCE) controlled an area including modern-day Bayannur, while the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE–24 CE) established a hierarchical Chinese administrative structure. The Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) designated this area as part of "Inner Mongolia", but after its overthrow by the Republic of China (1912-1949), Bayannur was assigned to Suiyuan Province.
Bayannur has an administrative area of 65,788 km 2 (25,401 sq mi). The name of the city in Mongolian means "Rich Lake". At the 2010 census, the total population of Bayannur is up to 1,669,915, while the city proper, Linhe District, has 520,300 inhabitants.