Maqu County, also known as “Machu County“, is located in southwest of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province, on eastern end of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is only county in China that is named after Yellow River.
It is at junction of Gansu, Qinghai, and Sichuan provinces. “Maqu” means “Peacock River” in Tibetan language, which also means “Yellow River”.
Maqu County borders Luchu County to east and Zoige County of Sichuan Province to southeast, it is also adjacent to Aba County of Sichuan Province in south, Jiuzhi County, Gade County and Maqin County in west, and Henan Mongolian Autonomous County in north.
Best travel time
From June to August
High cold and humid type, long winter without summer
Yellow River descends from Bayan Har Mountains to east, forming a 433 kilometers long “bend” in Maqu County, which is regarded as “1st bend of Yellow River”; and there is bridge at a distance of 4km from Maqu county, which is regarded as the “1st bridge” on upper reaches of Yellow River.
Maqu county seat is Nima (Dzoge Nyima) Town. It covers an area of 10190 square kilometers with average elevation of 3700 meters. Maqu was an area of ancient Qiang ethnic group. It became a nomadic land of Tibetans after Tubo kingdom occupied Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in 663 AD.
Most popular sites
Dzoge Nyima Gompa, It is one of Gelug pa monasteries. It is the earliest Tibetan Buddhism monastery in Maqu County and one of 108 monasteries belonging to Labrang monastery.
Niantu monastery, also known as “Gongtang Zimchung“, belongs to Gelug pa of Tibetan Buddhism. Founding was begun in AD 1777. The first part was completed after 4 years. building of second part was activated in 1900. After 4 years, great assemblly hall and “Nangqian” were completed. In 1929, there were about 350 monks in monastery, and monastery rules were implemented in accordance with Labrang Monastery.
First Bridge of Yellow River is located 4 kilometers away from Nima town. It is the first bridge built in Maqu on upper reaches of Yellow River in 1979. This bridge is 280 meters long and 7.5 meters wide. Sunrise view of the First Bridge on Yellow River is unqiue. That is to stand on west side of bridge in early morning, when sun rises to arch, it looks like arch of bridge holds up sun, which is quite spectacular.
Geography and climate
Amnye Marchen Mountain traverses middle of Maqu County from west to east.Xiqing mountain stretches from north to south into northern part of Maqu county, forming a terrain that is high in northwest, low in southeast, and gradually decreasing from northwest to southeast.
Elevation is between 3,500 and 3,800 meters, its southeast is second terrace of Yellow River, and surface is flat
Its climate is an obvious plateau continental alpine humid zone, with high cold and windy, rainy, and snowy, no four seasons, only cold and warm seasons. cold season lasts for 300 days, long and cold; warm season is short and mild. Concentrated rain, sufficient sunshine, strong radiation, and no absolute frost-free period. Annual average temperature 1.2℃
Population and ethnic group
As of end of 2017, total population of Maqu county was 57,900, including Tibetan, Hui, Dongxiang, Tu, Baoan, Manchu, Mongolian, Salar and other ethnic groups. Tibetan population accounts for majority.
In ancient time, Maqu area was part of Qiang ethnic group
During period of Chun, Qiu and Warring State, descendants of Dong family had developed into many tribes in Maqu area
In Qin dynasty, Maqu area was still under Dong family’s control.
During Three Kingdoms, Maqu area belonged to Mitang Qiang tribe.
During Jin dynasty, Southern and Northern Dynasty, Maqu area was occupied by Dangxiang Miyao tribe.
During Sui Dynasty, Maqu area was under jurisdiction of Heyuan Count
In Tang Dynasty, Maqu area was occupied by Tubo kingdom
During Song dynasty, Yuan dynasty and Ming dynasty, it was under jurisdiction of Do Kham
In Qing dynasty, Maqu area was under jurisdiction of Do me (Amdo)
In 24th year of Emperor Guangxu of Qing Dynasty (AD 1898), Maqu area was under jurisdiction of Labrang Monastery.
In 17th year of Republic of China (AD 1928), it belonged to Xiahe County, Gansu Province, but its decree can only be implemented in all parts of Maqu area through Labrang Monastery
In 1949, it became 7th district of Xiahe County
In 1955, Maqu county was established, and under jurisdiction of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
In 1959, Maqu county and Luqu conuty were merged to form Taojiang County;
In 1962, Taojiang County was abolished, and Maqu and Luqu counties were restored.