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Tibet Profile

Today, the People's Republic of China is divided into 23 provinces, five autonomous regions and three municipalities directly under the Central Government.

Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), also called Xizang Autonomous Region(simplified Chinese: 西藏自治区), is located in the southwest frontier of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Tibet, one of the five autonomous regions, is inhabited primarily by people of Tibetan ethnicity

The capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region, is the political, economic, cultural, and communication and transportation centre for the entire region. It has a recorded history of more than 1,300 years. Located on the northern bank in the middle reaches of the Lhasa River, a tributary of the Yarlungzangbo River, the city is at an elevation of 3,658 metres. The nearly 30,000 square kilometres municipality is home to 400,000 people, with 140,000 living in the 544 square kilometres city proper.

Tibetans, Han, Hui and other ethnic groups live in the city, with Tibetans accounting for 87 percent of the population. Agriculture and animal husbandry are relatively well developed in the areas surrounding the city pro per. A group of vegetable and meat production bases have recently been set up. The region's mainstay industrial enterprises are concentrated in the Lhasa area. There is a network of more than 10,000 commercial outlets in the city. Great changes have come to the city of Lhasa since Tibet's peaceful liberation in 1951, and even more since the initiation of the reform and opening policy in 1979. The urban area has seen the construction of many new buildings combining traditional Tibetan and modern styles, such as the Lhasa Hotel, the Tibet People's Hall, the Tibet University, the Tibet Gymnasium, the Regional People's Hospital, the Lhasa Cinema, the Mass Art House, and the Lhasa Children's Centre. Infrastructure including transportation, telecommunications and energy has developed rapidly. Program me-controlled telephones and a satellite communication ground station have already been set up. A region-wide highway network centering on Lhasa has been formed. In the urban area the roads are asphalt and there is running water and a sewage system.

The 20 to 30 square kilometers Yangbajain geothermal field, listed as a key state development pilot project, delivers ground surface natural thermal energy as high as 107,000 kilocalories per second. With an estimated 150,000 kilowatts potential, it is the largest geothermal power plant currently under development in China. Lhasa has more than 200 sites recognized as cultural relics More than 20 of these have already been opened to tourism soon to be joined by another 30. Main tourist destinations include famous structures like the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Ramoche Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Ganden Monastery, and the Norbulingka and beautiful scenic spots like Namtso Lake, Derzhom hot springs, and the Lhunzhub and Maizhokunggar nature preserves.

The Barkhor Bazaar around the Jokhang Temple at the heart of the old city is a place where tourists can see some of what remains of the city's original appearance The streets around here, lined with closely packed shops, are bustling with activity An endless stream of pilgrims wends its way around the temple, passing by handicrafts and other traditional goods spread out for sale to either side

I. Location and Area

The southwest border province of Tibet forms the southwestern portion of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It adjoins the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and the province of Qinghai to the north, Sichuan to the east, Yunnan to the southeast, and the nations of Burma (Myanmar), India, Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal to the south and west along an international border of nearly 4,000 kilometers. The 1.22 million square kilometer autonomous region accounts for 12.8 percent of China's total land area.

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II. Topography and Mountain

Ranges Averaging more than 4,000 meters in elevation, Tibet forms the main part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and 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 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 meters. Mount Qomolangma, 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 meters high and 38 peaks over 7,000 meters can be found in the more than 5,000 square kilometers surrounding Qomolangma.

Himalayan Mountainous Area: Lying in southern Tibet, it is formed by several east-west mountains each with an elevation of 6,000 meters, including the Qomolangma which, located in Tingri County by the Chna-Nepal border and having an elevation of 8,843.43 meters, is the highest peak in the world. The Himalayas is capped by snow all the year round and climate in its southern and northern side, plus topography, is greatly different.

Southern Tibet Valley: Lying between the Kangdese and Himalayan mountains, the valley is drained by the Yarlung Zangbo River and its tributaries. This valley is composed of many small sub river and lake valleys. Blessed with flat land and fertile fields, this valley is the major agricultural area of Tibet.

Northern Tibet Plain: Lying among the Kunlun, Tanggula, Kangdese and Nyainqentanggula mountains, the plain occupies two-third of the regional area. Dotted with many basins, this plain is the major livestock breeding area of Tibet.

Eastern Tibet high Mountain Valley: This refers to the Henduan mountainous area located east of Nagqu. It is composed of a series of eadst-west and then south-north high mountains and deep ravines. The Nujiang, Lancangjiang and Jinshajiang rivers flow among these mountains. While the top of the mountains are buried under snow, the area on the lower part of the mountain slopes are covwered with trees and crops.

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III. Rivers and Lakes

More than 20 rivers with drainage areas in excess of 10,000 square kilometers and more than 100 with drainage areas of more than 2,000 square kilometers are found in Tibet Best known are the Jinsha, Nu, Lancang and Yarlungzangbo rivers. Tibet has more rivers flowing into foreign countries than any other Chinese province. Great rivers of Asia that find their origin in Tibet include the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Mekong, Salween and Irrawaddy. These rivers for the most part arise from rains, melted ice and snow and underground water, hence their water is of excellent quality, their flow rate high and silt age low.

The Yarlungzangbo River, the largest in Tibet, has its source in a glacier at the northern foot of the Himalayas in Zhongba County. After flowing through Lhoyu and entering India it is known as the Brahmaputra. The 2,057 kilometers Chinese portion, with a drainage area of more than 240,000 square kilometers at an approximate average altitude of 4,500 meters high, is the world's highest-altitude river The 370-kilometre Yarlungzangbo Gorge, at a depth of 5,382 meters, the world's deepest, is only 74 meters wide at the narrowest point along its base and 200 meters at the widest. The vast Tibet Plateau is bejeweled with more than 1,500 large and small lakes; Nam Co, Siling Co and Zhari Namco are larger than 10 0 square kilometers and 47 other lakes are larger than 100 square kilometers. All told there are 24,183 square kilometers of lakes, about one third of China's total. The Tibet Plateau is not only the area in China with the densest concentration of lakes; in terms of number, area and altitude of lakes it leads all the world's plateaus. Most of these lakes are saline. Seventeen, all larger than 50 square kilometers, are located above 5,000 meters.

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IV. Administrative Divisions

The Tibet Autonomous Region is divided into one municipality and six prefectures. These are further subdivided into one district under municipal jurisdiction, one county-level city, 71 counties, one county-level port and one special administrative district (see accompanying table).

Administrative Divisions in the Tibet Autonomous Region Municipality/prefecture counties under jurisdiction (including district under municipal jurisdiction, county-level city, county-level entry/exit port and special administrative district)

1. Lhasa Municipality
Chengguan District (under municipal jurisdiction), Damxung, Doilungdequen, Quxu, Maizhokunggar, Dagze, Nyemo and Lhunzhub counties.

2. Shigates Prefecture
Shigates City, Namling, Tingri, Gyangze, Bainang, Sagya, Lhaze, Nagmring, Yadong, Nyalam, Rinbung, Kangmar, Dingye, Gyirong, Saga, Kamba, Xaitongmoin and Zhongba counties, and Zhamu Port

3. Lhoka (Shannan) Prefecture
Nedong, Konggar, Lhunze, Naggarze, Qonggyai, Sangrug, Qusum, Comai, Chanang, Lhozhag, Gyaca and Cona counties

4. Qamdo Prefecture
Qamdo, Mangkam, Jomda, Konjo, Dengqen, Chagyab, Zogang, Riwoqe, Baxoi, Lhorong and Banbar counties

5. Nagqu Prefecture
Nagqu, Xainza, Amdo, Biru, Bangoin, Baqen, Jiali, Nyainrong, Nyima and Sog counties, and Shuanghu Special Administrative District

6. Ngari Prefecture
Burang, Gar, Gegyai, Gerze, Coqen, Zanda and Rutog counties

7. Nyingchi Prefecture
Nyingchi, Gongbogyamda, Mainling, Bome, Zayu, Medog and Nang counties Lhasa

8 Days Lhasa to Kathmandu Himalayan Panoramic Tour