Aba Tibetan Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, referred to as Aba Prefecture, is an autonomous prefecture under jurisdiction of Sichuan Province.
Aba Tibetan Qiang Autonomous Prefecture is also spelled as “Ngawa Tibetan Qiang Autonomous Prefecture“.
Here, Aba is Chinese Pinyin of Ngawa’s pronunciation of Tibetan.
It is located in northwestern of Sichuan Province at junction of Sichuan province, Gansu province and Qinghai province
Aba Prefecture borders Gannan Prefecture of Gansu and Golog Prefecture of Qinghai Province in north and northwest, Mianyang City, Deyang City, Chengdu and Longnan City to east and southeast, Ya’an City to south and southwest, and connected Garze Prefecture to west
Minjiang River originates in Songpan County in its northeast and flows into Chengdu Plain in southeast of Aba Prefecture. The upper reaches of Dadu River of Dajinchuan River runs through west of Aba Prefecture, and Yellow River flows through its northwest. It is only Yellow River basin in Sichuan Province.
Capital town of Aba prefecture is Barkham City with altitude of 2,600 meters. It is 344 kilometers away from Chengdu — capital of Sichuan Province, and 340 kilometers away from Kangding — capital of Ganzi Prefecture, and 539 kilometers away from Hezuo City — capital of Gannan Prefecture
Aba Prefecture is main animal husbandry area in Sichuan Province, with a vast grassland area and rich natural ecology and tourism resources.
There are World Natural Heritage Sites of Huanglong, Jiuzhaigou, and Siguniang Mountain, a national-level scenic spot. And there is Wolong National Nature Reserve, which is an important conservation base for giant pandas.
Best time to travel
Throughout a year
Plateau monsoon climate
Aba Prefecture has jurisdiction over 1 county-level city and 12 counties.
In addition, Wolong Special Administrative Region in Wenchuan County, managed by Sichuan Provincial Forestry Department, completely overlaps with Sichuan Wolong National Nature Reserve designated by National Forestry and Grassland Administration.
Most popular sites
Jiuzhaigou is not only a nature reserve, a national-level scenic spot, but also a World Natural Heritage . The scenic area covers an area of 62 square kilometers. The total length of valley is about 50 kilometers. Its natural scenic spots are concentrated on both sides of valley, it combines original ecological environment, spotless fresh air, snow-capped mountains, forests, and lakes to form a wonderful, fantastic and beautiful natural scenery, and is known as “fairy tale world”
Huanglong Scenic Spot is located in Songpan County, Aba Prefecture. The altitude is above 3000 meters. The scenic area consists of two parts: Huanglong Scenic Area and Munigou Scenic Area. Surface travertine is the biggest feature of Huanglong landscape. It covers an area of 700 square kilometers. The main landscape is concentrated in Huanglong Gully, which is about 3.6 kilometers long. The valley is covered with travertine deposits, like a golden dragon, accompanied by snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, virgin forests, canyons and other landscapes.
Taoping Qiang Village is located in Taoping Township, Li County of Aba Prefecture, 163 kilometers away from Chengdu and 41 kilometers away from county seat. There are 98 households in this village. It was built in 111 BC. It is a typical representative of Qiang architectural complex. It completely preserves ancient features of Qiang people. The whole village was built along the mountain slope one by one, and all houses are connected to each other, while a hidden ditch was built to drain mountain springs flowing from under houses in the village, which is very convenient for drinking, fire fighting and water fetching.
Emotang Hua Hai (Sea of flower) is located in Hongyuan County, Aba Prefecture, some 40 kilometers away from Hongyuan Airport and 73 kilometers away from county seat. Its core area is more than 80,000 mu. Starting in June each year, a variety of different flowers will gradually open up. Ermotang grassland with a radius of tens of square kilometers becomes a sea of flowers, and the entire flowering period will last until the end of September. During this months, different kinds of flowers bloom in different month. The large scale, high density, many rare plant species, and rich colors are all rare
Zoige pasture, located in northwestern Sichuan grassland in the junction Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai. It is one of the five large grasslands in China, covering an area of more than 35,600 square kilometers. It is a Tibetan settlement dominated by animal husbandry.
The first bay of Yellow River is located in front of in Tangke Township. It is 68 kilometers away from Zoige County, 8 kilometers away from Tangke Township, and 248 kilometers away from Jiuzhaigou county. Yellow River originates from Bayankala Mountain in Qinghai and flows slowly eastward to Sichuan province
Taktsa monastery, also known as “Zoige Gonsar Ganden Rabgyeling“, is listed as a national cultural relics protection units. It is a Gelug pa monastery with location in northeast of Taktsa township. Its architecture has both traditional Tibetan architectural style and Han architectural style, of which are combined into one. Taktsa monastery was first built in 1663 AD, and moved to its current location in 1829 AD, greatly expanded;
There are many ceremonies and pujia being held in this monastery, and the most popular ones are “Monlam Festival” in the 1st first month; “Niangne Pujia” in the 4th month; Debating Pujia in 7th; “Lantern Festival” in 10th month; and “Banish Evile” & “Dharma King Dance Pujia” in the 12th month
Zamthang Chode Gompa is located in Middle Zamthang Township on east bank of Zequ River. It covers an area of 2,625 square meters and is a wood-stone structure of Tibetan architecture. There are 4 spiritual pagodas for high lamas. In addition, more than 10 pagodas with a height of more than 20 meters standing around this monastery. In 1991, it was listed as a provincial cultural relics protection unit.
Zamthang Tsangpa Gompa is dated from Ming dynasty to Qing dynasty. located in Middle Zamthang Township near Zamthang Chode Gompa, it is main inheritance place of Jonang Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.
The main buildings are mostly stone-wood or civil-wood structures, which are well-protected and large-scale Tibetan Buddhist buildings in Ming and Qing Dynasties in Sichuan Province.
It is also one of main dojos of Jonang Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Hundreds of precious cultural relics from Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties are in its collection. It is listed as a cultural relics protection unit in Sichuan Province
Xiangla Dongji Holy Mountain Scenic Area it is about 30 square kilometers large, and located some 29 kilometers from Zamthang county. This is a mountain that has never been touched by anyone because it is one of sacred mountains in King Gesar, being regarded as inviolable. “Shangra Dongji” sacred mountains is shaped like a “Zhong (众)” charactor of Chinese, it is thought to be incarnation of Vajrapani, and being surrounded by 88 snow-capped mountains, which are servants of Holy Mountain according to legend.
Haizi Mountain Scenic Area It is located at junction of three counties of Zamthang, Aba, and Barkham, it is about 80 kilometers from county seat. Haizi Mountain means “mountain with Haizi (Lake)”. There are about 35 lakes. Haizishan is 4,760 meters above sea level, its main peak is called “Zun-ma” means “Queen” ; It is said to be “Queen” of Amnye Marchn Mountain in Qinghai, whom wearing a silver cloak, riding a white horse, holding a wishful treasure, protecting a living creature.
9-story Maitreya Pagoda : 9-story Maitreya Pagoda can be regarded as a Buddha statue exhibition hall. It displays a variety of Buddha statues, including murals, Thangkar paintings, clay sculptures, and metal sculptures. The most exciting thing is that ninth pagoda is hanging around in a circle. Outside the pagoda wall on 9th floor, each side has a row of slate tiles that extend from wall, which is about 20cm long, and just long enough to hold one foot. Visitor or pilgrimage comes out from tower gate, lay a hand onto tower, and move steps on slate around pagoda . Just in case, monks carried a circle of steel ropes as handrails on pagodas.
Jo-Nang Sect: The region between Xiangla Dongji Holy Mountain Scenic Area and Haizi Mountain Scenic Area breeds Jo-Nang Pa of Tibetan Buddhism, which was root in three monasteries of Zamthang Chode Gompa, Zamthang Tsangpa Gompa and Zsebuji Gompa, and all of which were ones in begining in 1435 BC, and named “The East SangzhuLuobuling monastery” that have been developed into three monasteries. The buildings of monastery are integrated into a single town, just 60 kilometers from Zamthang county.
Geography and climate
Aba Prefecture is located in alpine valley area of northwest Sichuan, at the junction of southeast edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and northern end of Hengduan Mountains. It is about 414 kilometers from north to south and 360 kilometers from east to west, with a total area of ??84,242 square kilometers.
Aba Prefecture is blocked by ancient bay and ancient land of Longmen Mountain, forming two major stratigraphic divisions. Its geological structure belongs to geological trough area in western Sichuan Province, and is located in cascade transition zone between eastern platform area and estern geological trough area — Longmen Mountain fold fault zone.
The landform of Aba Prefecture is divided into three parts: the northwest is a hilly plateau, the north is a swamp area, and the southeast is a high mountain and valley area.
Average altitude of Aba Prefecture is between 3500-4000 meters. The mountains are high in south and low in north. The valleys are high in northwest and low in southeast. Mountains and rivers run northwest to southeast.
The highest elevation of Mount Siguniang is 6,250 meters, and the horizontal distance from Minjiang River on the east is only 59 kilometers, the height difference reaches 5470 meters.
Plateaus and mountain valleys of Aba Prefecture each account for about half. The northeast part is Longmen Mountain and Minshan Mountain; the northwest part is the Bayan Har Mountain branch; the southwest part is the Daxue Mountain Area; the south part is the Qionglai Mountain Area.
Winter in Aba Prefecture is cold and long, summer is cool in north and warm but short in south.
Most areas are with distinct dry and rainy seasons, abundant sunlight, large temperature differences between day and night, and short frost-free periods.
In winter and spring, the air is dry, with strong winds, drought, frost, snow, low temperature, and heavy snow are frequent.
Aba Prefecture is divided into three climate types: high mountains, mountain plains, and alpine valleys. Average temperature of whole prefecture is 9.3℃, average annual total precipitation is 705 mm, and annual sunshine hours are 1921 hours.
Temperature decreases from southeast to northwest and decreases with altitude from low to high. Mountains are humid and cold, and valleys are dry and cold
–There is no significant difference in temperature in four seasons in hilly plateau in northwest. Winters are severely cold and long, and summers are cool and humid. Annual average temperature is 0.8℃～4.3℃.
— In mountain plains, it has a warm and semi-humid climate, with cool summers, cold winters and springs, and obvious dry and wet seasons
–In alpine valleys, as the altitude changes, the climate varies from subtropical to temperate, cold temperate, and frigid zones, with obvious vertical differences
River valleys below 2500 meters above sea level have concentrated precipitation and rapid evaporation, becoming an arid and semi-arid zone.
The slope valley area with an altitude of 2500-4100 meters is a cold-temperate zone with an average annual temperature of 1℃～5℃.
Above 4100 meters above sea level, it is a frigid zone with snow all year round and long winter without summer.
There are more than 530 streams in Aba Tibetan Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, which belong to Minjiang, Jialing, Fujian, Dadu and Yellow River systems.
The main tributaries of upper reaches of Yangtze River in Sichuan of Minjiang, Jialingjiang, and Fujiang all originate in Aba Prefecture and run through its entire territory.
Yellow River flows 165 kilometers in length in Aba Prefecture. It is the only area where Yellow River flows through Sichuan. Aba Prefecture is also an important water source for upper reaches of Yellow River.
Population and ethnicity
As of end of 2019, there were a total of 94.6 people in Aba Prefecture, including 535,000 Tibetans, accounting for 59.5% of total population, 167,100 Qiangs, accounting for 18.6% of total population, and 167,300 Hans, accounting for 18.6% of total population.Other ethnic groups include Hui, Yi, Manchu, Kazak, Bai, Tujia, and Miao,…etc
Aba Prefecture is the second largest Tibetan area in Sichuan Province and the main settlement area of Qiang people in China
–Airports in Aba Tibetan Qiang Prefecture–
In 316 BC, Qin Dynasty established Jian Di Dao (“Dao” means county) in the area of currrent Songpan county, and regions of Aba Prefecture had its first organizational system.
In 111 BC, Wenchuan County was established,
In 106 BC, Aba prefecture region was ruled by Shu County of Yizhou
In 67 BC, it was under Beibu region
In 124 AD, Wenshan County was restored.
In 280 AD, Mianluo County was changed to Wenshan County.
In 564 AD, Shengzhou was changed to Wenzhou, which governed Beibu and Wenshan counties.
During Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty, the administrative region and name had been changed frequently, and its territory had been expended
In 1076 AD, it was placed under jurisdiction of Chengdu Region
In 1283 AD, Tusi system was implanted and activated
In 1374 AD, Wenchuan governor, secretary and other government departments were established
In 1728 AD, 4 counties of Maozhou, Lifan, Songpan, and Maogong were established.
In 1908 AD, it belonged to Western Sichuan Dao
In 17th year of Republic of China (1928), “Tun Tian and Farming Supervision Office” was established in Maoxian County,
In 25th year of Republic of China (1936), 16 administrative inspection districts of Sichuan Province were established,
In 1950, Maoxian Prefecture of Western Sichuan Administrative Office was established
In 1953, Maoxian prefecture was abolished to establish Sichuan Tibetan Autonomous Region.
In 1955, it was renamed as “Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture”
In 1987, it was renamed as “Aba Tibetan Qiang Autonomous Prefecture”