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[HugChina] Tibet Autonomous Region

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Bernd Chang

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Posted on Sun, Jun 24, 2012 07:34 AM 01516





Situated in the southwest China, Tibet Autonomous Region is the second largest subdivision of China. Tibet is named Xizang (??) in Chinese. The capital of Tibet is Lhasa. The major tourist attration of Tibet is Potala Palace.

General information

Area: 1,220,000 square km

Population: 2.77 million (2005)

Population %of Tibetan 88%

Capital City: Lhasa

Nationalities:Tibetan (92.8%), Han (6.1%), Monpa (0.3%), Hui (0.3%), and others (0.2%)

Altitude: over 4,000 meters on the whole; 8,848 meters at the peak of Qomolangma (Mount Everest).

Average temperature: -18oC to 3.6oC in January, 7oC to 19oC in July.

Administrative divisions: 2 cities and 76 counties

Neighboring areas: Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan Provinces; Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Neighboring countries: India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and Burma.

Major cities: Lhasa, XigaZe, Gyangze, Qamdo, Nyingchi, Gar, Nyalam.

Tourist attraction: Potala Palace in Lhasa

Geography of Tibet

Situated in the southwest frontier of China, Tibet Autonomous Region covers a total area of 1,220,000 square kilometres with population of 2,770,000 (2005). Standing in the southern part of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, the whole autonomous region overwhelmingly comprises mountain range with an average elevation of over 4,000 meters above sea level. With an average of over 4,500 meters above sea level the North Tibetan Plateau occupies two- thirds of the whole range. Basins Are surrounded by hills ranging from 300 to 500 meters high, south of the North Tibetan Plateau, lying between Mountain Kailash (Gangdise) and the Himalayas, stretches the valley of Tsangpo (Yarlung Zangbo) River and its tributaries, commonly known as South Tibetan Valley.

This valley, 4,000 metres above sea level, slops down from west to east with Lhasa River Valley plain as its widest section. From southern edge to China-Nepal border where Mount Qomolangms stands upright,8848 meters above sea level, lies the Himalayas whose elevation average 6,000 meters above sea level. To the east is the north range of the famous Hengduan Mountains, known as East Tibetan Gully Area. Its north section, 5,200 metres above sea level, is flat on the top; whereas its south part, 4000 metres above sea level, abruptly falls down 2,500 meters from the top to the bottom.

The Tsangpo River, the largest in Tibet, whose upper reaches called Tachog Khabab (Maquan River), gets water from Jiema Yangzong glacier in the Himalayas, and stretches 2,057 kilometres before it flows into India, where it is called the Brahmaputra River. Other large rivers such as the Nujiang River, the Lancang River and the Jinsha River are all full of deep falls and rapids and Tibet abounds in water resources.

The Namtso (Namco) Lake in North Tibetan Plateau is the second largest salt water lake in China, covering an area of 1,920 square kilometres. The Kyiring Tso (Siling Co) Lake covers an area of 1,865 square kilometres. In addition, there are the Yardak Yumtso (Yarzhoyum Co) Lake, Puma Yumtso Lake and Mapham Yumtso Lake. These lakes all have a great influence on Tibetans' livelihood.

Climate of Tibet

Tibet as a whole has plateau climate----low temperature, scanty

rainfall, thin air and plentiful sunshine. As a result of monsoon

blowing in from India, the southern Tibet is warmer and more humid. Its average annual temperature is between -3ºC and 12ºC (26.6 ºF and 53.6 ºF). In January, the temperature remains between -18ºC and 3.6ºC (-0.4 ºF and 38.48 ºF) and between 7ºC and 19ºC (44.6 ºF and 66.2 ºF) in July. Tibet is one of those areas in China that get longest time of sunshine everyday. Lhasa and Shigats (Xigatse) both enjoy the fame of the "City of Sunlight".

Economy of Tibet

The Tibetans traditionally depended upon agriculture for survival. Since the 1980s, however, other jobs such as taxi-driving and hotel retail work have become available in the wake of Chinese economic reform. In 2009, Tibet's nominal GDP topped 44.1 billion yuan (US$6.5 billion), nearly more than four times as big as the 11.78 billion yuan (US$1.47 billion) in 2000. In the past five years, Tibet's annual GDP growth has averaged 12%.

While traditional agricultural work and animal husbandry continue to lead the area's economy, in 2005 the tertiary sector contributed more than half of its GDP growth, the first time it surpassed the area's primary industry.

In 2008, Chinese news media reported that the per capita disposable incomes of urban and rural residents in Tibet averaged 12,482 yuan (US$1,798) and 3,176 yuan (US$457) respectively.

The China Western Development policy was adopted in 2000 by the central government to boost economic development in western China, including the Tibet Autonomous Region.

History of Tibet

In ancient times, Tibet was known as Qiang or Rong and called Turpan in the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1280) Dynasties. In the Yuan (1271-1368) and Ming (1368-1644) Dynasties, Tibet was under the jurisdiction of the China central government. Tibet was divided into U, Tsang, Kham and Ngari in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The present name, Tibet, appeared in 1663. Tibet Autonomous Region was set up on September 9, 1956 after the Communist Party established People's Republic of China in 1949.

Administrative divisions

Tibet Autonomous Region is divided into one prefecture-level city and six prefectures.

# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Tibetan Wylie Administrative Seat

Xizang prfc map.png

— Prefecture-level city —

Lhasa ???

— Prefecture —

Ngari ????

Nagqu ????

Qamdo ????

Xigazê ?????

Shannan ????

Nyingchi ????

Places of Interests and Tourist Attractions of Tibet

Averaging more than 4,000 meters in elevation, Tibet is well-known as the "roof of the world." While the topography is complex, the area can be divided into three distinct natural zones: the northern two thirds of the region, the North Tibet Plateau, is enclosed by the Kunlun, Tanggula, Gangdise, and Nyainqentanglha mountains; between the Gangdise Mountains and the Himalayas is the South Tibet Valley, where the Yarlungzangbo River and its tributaries flow; the east is an area of high mountains and deep valleys, part of the famous Hengduan Mountains, running first east-west then gradually shifting to north south. Geomorphologically, there are six principal forms: polar altitude mountains, alpine mountains, medium-height mountains, low mountains, hills and plains; volcanic, aeolian, karst and periglacial landforms are found as well.

The Himalayas

The Himalayas are a group of mountain ranges running roughly parallel to one another in an east-west direction on the southern edge of the Tibet Plateau along China's border with India and Nepal. The mountains run for 2,400 kilometers at a width of 200 to 300 kilometers and altitudes averaging over 6,000 metres. Mount Everest, the world's highest peak at 8848.13 meters, rises abruptly on the Sino-Nepalese border midway through the range. Four peaks over 8,000 metres high and 38 peaks over 7,000 metres can be found in the more than 5,000 square kilometres surrounding Everest.

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is the political, economic, cultural, and communication and transportation center for the entire region. It has a recorded history of more than 1,300 years and is located on the northern hank in the middle reaches of the Lhasa River, a tributary of the Yarlungzangbo River. It is called the City of Sun because of its sufficient sunshine at an altitude of 3607 meters. The nearly-30,000-square-kilometer municipality is home to 400,000 people that includes Tibetans, Hans, Huis and other ethnic groups, with Tibetans accounting for 87 percent of the population.

The Potala Palace

The Potala Palace perches on a lofty cliff, being 13-stories-high and containing 1000 rooms and 10,000 chapels and tombs of eight Dalai Lamas. It was built by Songsten Gampo and was the official residence of the Dalai Lama. From the 18th century, the palace was used only in the winter.

The Jokhang Temple

The Jokhang Temple, the most important Buddhist temple in Tibet, is in the heart of Lhasa. Princess Wen Cheng brought with her the seated statue of the child Sakyamuni. The Tibetans believe that the statue was made by Buddha himself. Here every year the Great Prayer Festival is held, when the temple is full of worshippers.

The Sera Monastery

The Sera Monastery was built in 1419 and is one of the four major monasteries in Tibet. It contains 18 sandalwood arhats and four Heavenly Kings that were gifts from the Ming emperor. The Drepung Monastery, another one of the four major monasteries, was built in 1416. It has a white conch and a gildes Buddha. Norbulingka Park, once the summer residence of the Dalai Lama, is set in a 100-acre garden and has 370 rooms.


Xigaze, a city 225 km west of Lhasa has the Tashilhunpo Monastery and is a very important religious city. It was founded in 1447 and was the home of the Panchen Lamas, the reincarnations of the Buddha of Eternal Light. The tenth Panchen Lama died here in 1989. Zhangmu is a place on the Tibet side of the Nepal border. Here, visitors are surrounded by a pastoral and forest setting and can live in yak-hair tents.


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