Lying on the south part of Keerqin Sandy Land, the municipality of Tongliao has a total area of 59,535 km2. It stretches 418km from north to south, and 370km from east to west. It’s within the coordinates of E 119°14′- E123°43 and N 42°15′- N45°59. The landscape and the climactic conditions of the area have played a pivotal role in the process of desertification. Both the north and south of Tongliao is higher, the middle part comparatively low, making this municipality seem like a horse saddle. The North part are hills with elevation 400-1300m, taking 22.8% of the total area of Tongliao. The South part are hills with an elevation of 550-730m, taking about 7.0% of the total area. The Middle is sandy alluvial plain with an elevation of 120-320m, taking 70.7% of the total area. Among these, there are zones of transition with rolling sand dunes and sandy lands, with elevations of 200-400m.
Classified as a Continental Steppe Climate (influenced by monsoons), Tongliao experiences four distinct seasons. Each spring the prefecture encounters very dry and cold conditions with heavy winds; and while the summers are much warmer, they are also very humid and short-lived. The annual average temperature of Tongliao is only 0-6°C and annual accumulated temperature of 3,000-3,200 °C, making life difficult for a primarily agricultural based economy, as they also only receive 140-160 frost-free days in the year. Despite the cold air, the area still receives a great deal of sun exposure. The accumulated hours of daylight throughout the year average 3,000 (compared to New York, USA which averages 2,207 hours). Tongliao only receives 340-400mm of rainfall per year, but evaporate five times the amount of rain that falls. Additionally, the average wind speed is 3-4.4 mi/second, and can reach a level 8 out of 12 or higher on the Beaufort scale, 20-30 days per year.