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Tibet Regional Guide

With an average elevation of 4,900 meters (16,000 ft), it is the highest region on Earth and is commonly referred to as the "Roof of the World." Tibet embraces the holy city Lhasa, Shigatse (Xigaze), Ngari Region, Chamdo (Qamdo) Region, Nyingchi Region, Shannan (Lhoka, Lhokha) Region, Nakchu (Nagqu) Region and other 73 counties.

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Lhasa is the capital city of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) and has long been the center of politics, economy, culture and religion in Tibet. Lhasa means "holy land" in Tibetan language. The history of city dates back to the 7th century AD, when the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo conquered many tribes, united Tibet, transferred the capital from Yarlung to Lhasa, and established Tubo Regime. With Potala Palace as its center, Barkhor Street and Norbulingkha Palace on both sides, Lhasa is one of the most charming cities in Tibet. The grand Potala, the blue sky, the clear water and the fresh air all add charm to the city. The total population of the city is around 373,000 and the total population in the urban area only is close to 130,000. People of 31 nationalities live in the city and Tibetans take up 87% of the total population. Lhasa is located in the valley of Lhasa River, a branch of Yarlung Tsangpo River. It is 3,658 high in altitude. The city has jurisdiction over 7 counties and one district with an area of 300,000 square kilometers. The total area of urban section is 523 square kilometers.

Shigatse (Xigaze)

Located in the alluvial plain at the confluence of Brahmaputra and Nianchuhe rivers, Shigatse is 273 kilometers west to Lhasa. At an elevation of 3,800 meters, with the area of 3,875 square kilometers and population of 820,000, it is the second biggest and the only county-level city in Tibet. Also, it is an ancient city in the altiplano with a history of nearly 600 years. It is named Xikasangzhuzi in Tibetan, and Xikazi for short, which stands for "a manor of the most fertile soil", and it is transliterated into Chinese as 'shigatse'.

Shigatse is a small city and big village as well, with the reputation of 'granary' of Tibet. The famous scenery spots include Tashilumpo Monastery, Palkor Monastery in Gyantse, Sakya Monastery, Pingcuolin Monastery, Juenang Monastery, Pala Manor and etc. Nowadays, Shigatse has become an important tourist attraction and transit of Tibetan golden tourist route, attracting countless tourists at home and abroad with its mysterious Tibetan Buddhism culture.

Nyingchi Region

Lying in the lower reaches of the Yaluzhangbu River southeast of Tibet, the Nyingchi Prefecture has the average latitude of approximately 3,000 meters above the sea level while the lowest place here is only about 900 meters above the sea level. This area is known for its mild wet weather and gorgeous landscape. The major townships and scenic zones include the Economic Area of the Niyang River Valley, Bayi Town and the Scenic Zones of Yaluzhangbu River. Among the above, the capital township - Bayi on the bank of the Biyang River, is the political and economic center of this prefecture.

Chamdo (Qamdo) Region

Located in eastern Tibet, Chamdo prefecture is contiguous with Sichuan Province to the east, Yunnan Province to the south and Qinghai Province to the north. Chamdo has a total population of 583,600, which accounts for 12% of the total population of Tibet Autonomous Region. Around Chamdo, there are the splendid sceneries of "Sacred Mountain and Holy Lake" of the Buddhism, Hinduism and the indigenous religion-Bon. There are also sites and ancient monasteries, buildings, steles, such as the Chambaling Monastery, Kanuo Ruins in Chamdo. The rich folk customs, religious culture and local festivals are still alive today.

Ngari Region

Located in the western Tibet Autonomous Region, Ngari Prefecture borders India, Nepal and Indian Kashmir and is contiguous with Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, China, to the north and Shigatse, Tibet to the south. Ngari has a total area of 310,000 sq. kilometers, accounting for one forth of Tibet. Ngari is known as the "roof of the roof of the world and the most "Tibetan" part of Tibet. Ngari averages 4,500 meters. It's the place where the Himalayas, the Gangdise, the Kunlun Mountains and Karakorum Mountains meet. Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarova in Ngari are symbolized as the "Sacred Mountain and Holy Lake" of the Buddhism and are the spiritual center of Buddhists.

Shannan (Lhoka, Lhokha) Region

Shannan (Lhoka, Lhokha) Prefecture is known as the birthplace of the Tibetan people. It lies to the south of Mt. Kailash and the Nyainqentanglha Mountains, along the middle and lower reaches of the Yarlung Tsangpo River, and enjoys a comparatively mild climate. The prefecture covers an area of around 80,000 km2, with an average altitude of about 3600m and a total population of 290,000, including Tibetan, Han, Hui, Monba and Lhoba people.

At an altitude of 3551m Tsetang is 200 km from Lhasa. The only civil airport in this area, Gonggar Airport, is located midway between Lhasa and Tsetang. In this region, ranges, lakes, springs and river valleys constitute the featured landscapes. Yarlong Scenic Spot is the only national scenic spot in Tibet.

Nakchu (Nagqu) Region

Nakchu (Nagqu) is one of the important political, economic, cultural and trading centers as well as a transport hub in Tibet. It is also the collection and reshipment centre for the region's animal products, mineral ores, and agricultural and forestry products. Nagqu has a unique landscape. The ancient Yamtung (or Zhangzhung) cultural site, the Bon monasteries, the Holy Lake Nam-tso( or Lake Nam co) and the life of the highland herdsmen are unique tourist attractions.

Altitude of Different Regions of Tibet

Place Altitude Place Altitude
Lhasa 3658 m
12001 ft
Nyingchi 3000 m
9843 ft
Shigatse 3836 m
12585 ft
Tsedang 3500 m
11483 ft
Nagqu 4507 m
14787 ft
Gyangtse 4040 m
13255 ft
Pome 2750 m
9022 ft
Tingri 4300 m
14108 ft
Amdo 4800 m
15748 ft
Zayui 2325 m
7628 ft
Chamdo 3205 m
10515 ft
Damshung 4200 m
13780 ft
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