The Daxia River starts in the northern part of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, where its drainage basin covers large parts of Hezuo County-level City and Xiahe County. It then flows northeast into Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, where it is crosses the breadth of Linxia County, and Linxia City; its lower course forms the border between Linxia County and the neighboring Dongxiang Autonomous County to the east. The river forms a large bay at its fall into the Liujiaxia Reservoir.
Within Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture, the wide valley of Daxia River, flanked on both sides by loess plateaus, is a major agricultural and residential area. Both Hanji Town (the county seat of Linxia County) and Linxia City are located in this valley.
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