Tuesday, December 23, 2008

travel to Tibet: overview

Tibet (Tibet Autonomous Region, TAR for short), the most amazing and mysterious area of China, got into the limelight at home and abroad these years. Its majestic scenery (such as white snow capped mountains, verdant virgin forests, clean running rivers and tranquil beautiful lakes, etc), mysterious and exotic religious culture, and wonderful people, offer numerous topics that we can talk about. First, let’s get start with an overview.

Renowned as the Roof of the World, Tibet lies in the southwest of China and in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau with an average altitude of above 4,000 meters. Everest Peak, the highest peak in the whole world, which is as high as 8,846.27 meters above sea level, is here in the Himalayas. The Olympic Flame reached the top of Everest Peak for the first time in 2008. Tibet is also encompassed by some of the world's highest mountains. The Himalayas to the south, the Karakoram to the west, and the Kunlun to the north are the dream lands of all adventurers and mountaineers. Each year, thousands of adventurers and mountaineers come to Tibet to challenge both nature and themselves.

Tibet borders Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan internally while India, Burma, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal meet its external borders. Covering a massive 1,220,000 square kilometers (470,920 square miles), which accounts for 12.8% of China, Tibet can be divided into three parts: The west, the south and the east.

The west part, known as the North-Tibet Plateau, takes up 2/3 of the total area of Tibet. Ngari, is a vast barren plateau and renowned as the Roof of Tibet. As the place where the Holy Lake (Lake Manasarova) joins the Sacred Mountain (Mt.Kailash), Ngari is a holy pilgrimage destination of both Tibetans and Hindus, as well as a popular challenge to trekkers. As the climate is so inclement few people live in this region. Therefore, Ngari is also the home of wild yak, Tibetan antelope, wild donkey, and many other rare wild animals.

The south part of Tibet consists of valleys and lies between Kangdese Mountains and Himalayas. Southwestern Tibet has been a popular destination for mountaineers. Mt.Everest towers over the region. Besides, more than 40 snow capped peaks are open to mountain climbing enthusiasts. Southern Tibet also offers primeval forests, running waters, and a relatively mild climate. Yarlong Tsangpo Canyon, the largest canyon in the world, is the home of rare plants and animals, and remains unknown to anyone other than the local people.

The east part is mainly made up of canyons and is marked by a gradual decline in altitude intercepted by small ranges called Henduan Ranges. The world's lowest valley, the Grand Yarlun-tzanpo River Valley lies in east Tibet.

The vast land is also the cradle of several great rivers such as the Yangtze River, the Yellow River,the Nu River (Salween), the Lancang River (Mekong), the Yarlong Tsangpo(Brahmaputra), the Indus, and the Ganges. Tibet also offers awe-inspiring scenery of beautiful lakes and valleys. Over 1,500 lakes including Heavenly Lake Namtso and the holy Lake Manasarova make Tibet the plateau with largest amount of lakes. Without irrigation and nurturance of these rivers and lakes, the surrounding lands may not flourish.

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