The Tibetan Plateau
Is a vast, elevated plateau in west China, in history it’s referred to as the “Three Provinces”, which are:
- The central provinces of “U” and Tsang, which extend from Ngari Gorsum in the west to Sokla Gyao;
- Do Do, which comprises the region from Solka Gyao to the upper bend of the Machu River and includes the area of Kham.
- Do Me, encompassing a region stretching from the Machu River to a monument called the “White Choden”, this includes the area of Amdo.
Nowaday, When speaking of “Tibet” we refer to the area, which is named the “Tibetan Autonomous Region” (TAR), with Lhasa as the capital of this tremendous region.
“Tibetan Cultural Area” is an area almost same size as West Europe, and has various complex landforms such as high and steep mountains, deep valleys, glaciers, and bare rocks. All places in the region lie at an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters. This great area is home to the indigenous Tibetan people, and also to some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Lhobas and Khampas.
The Tibetan plateau has some of the world’s highest mountains, among of those Mt. Everest, at 8,848 meters, is the highest peak on Earth, located on the border with Nepal. Several great rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau, most are in Amdo (present: Qinghai Province). These include Yangtze, Yellow River, Indus River, Mekong, Ganges, Salween and the Yarlung Tsanpo River (Brahmaputra River). The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon is thought to be the deepest and longest canyons in the world.
The Indus and Brahmaputra river originate from a lake in Western Tibet, near Mt. Kailash, which is a holy mountain for both Hindus and Tibetan. The Hindus consider the mountain to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Mt. Kailash in Tibetan is Khang Rinpoche, which is thought to be the center of this planet.
Because of its size and its huge differences in elevation, Tibetan plateau has a great range of climatic conditions. It features scarce precipitation and a sharp contrast between the dry and wet seasons. It is dry in winter and spring, with frequent occurrence of strong winds, as well as low oxygen content. Agriculture and Livestock are the economic pillars of Tibet, cultivating mainly sheep, goats and yaks, and growing mainly barley, wheat, potato and rape. Also the region produces the famous herb medicinal, such as musk, pilose antler, snow lotus, and Caterpillar fungus. Nowadays, tourism gradually becomes another pillar industry of Tibet.
In the 7th century, King Songtsan Gambo united Tibet and established the Tubo kingdom. Buddhism was introduced in this time; in the meantime the connection with Chinese empire had been established. In the 13th century, Tibet became an administrative area under the Yuan Dynasty. In the 17th century, the Fifth Dalai Lama established the Kadam Potrang government. The Qing government accepted this local government and sent a minister to the region. After the Revolution of 1911, the Republican government established a representative office in Tibet in order to strengthen its management of the local authority.