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Qinghai

Qinghai is named after Qinghai Lake. It borders Gansu on the northeast, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region on the northwest, Sichuan on the southeast, and Tibet Autonomous Region on the southwest.

History

Map of QinghaiQinghai was only relatively recently made a province of China. A large part of the area, historically called Kokonor/ Koknor in English until the early 20th century, lies outside of China proper and has been an ethnic melting pot for centuries, mixing Tibetan, Han Chinese, Mongol, and Turkic influences. It was a battleground during the Tang and subsequent Chinese dynasties when they fought against successive Tibetan dynasties.

Qinghai was under early Ming dynasty control. Prior to 1724, most of the area that is now Qinghai was under Tibetan control, but in that year it was conquered by the armies of the Qing Dynasty. Following the defeat of the Dzungars by the Qing in the mid 18th century, the area became home to peoples from what is now northern Xinjiang known as the Kokonor Mongols (Kokonor is the Mongol language name of Qinghai).

In 1928, Qinghai became a province of the Republic of China. Subsequently it became the primary base for warlord Ma Bufang, before it became a province under the People's Republic of China in 1949.

Geography

Qinghai is located on the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau. The Yellow River (Huang He) originates in the middle of the province, while the Yangtze and Mekong have their sources in the southwestern part.

The average elevation of Qinghai is over 3000 meters above sea level. Mountain ranges include the Tanggula Mountains and Kunlun Mountains. Its average temperature is approximately -5 to 8°C, with January temperatures ranging from -18 to -7°C and July temperatures ranging from 5 to 21°C. It is also prone to heavy winds as well as sandstorms from February to April.

By area, Qinghai is the largest province in China - excluding the autonomous regions of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia, which are technically not provinces.

Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) is the largest lake in the People's Republic of China. Qaidam basin lies in northwestern Qinghai. About a third of this resource rich basin is desert. The basin has an altitude between 2600 to 3300 meters.

The Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve (SNNR), also referred to as the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve, or the Three Rivers Nature Reserve, is the area of Qinghai province, PRC which contains the headwaters of the Yellow River (Huang He), the Yangtze River, and the Mekong River (Lancang Jiang). The SNNR was established to protect the headwaters of these three rivers. The reserve consists of 18 subareas, each containing three zones which are managed with differing degrees of strictness.

Culture

Qinghai's culture is heavily influenced by China proper and Tibet area, given the close proximities as well as a shared history.

Tourism

Many tourist attractions center on Xining, the provincial seat of Qinghai.

During the hot summer months, many tourists from the hot Southern and Eastern parts of China travel to Xining, as the climate of Xining in July and August is quite mild and comfortable, making the city an ideal summer retreat.

Qinghai Lake is another tourist attraction, albeit further from Xining than Kumbum. The lake is the largest saltwater lake in China, and is also located on the "Roof of the World," the Qinghai-Tibet plateau. The lake itself lies at 3,600m elevation. The surrounding area is made up of rolling grasslands and populated by ethnic Tibetans. Most pre-arranged tours stop at Bird Island. An international bicycle race takes place annually from Xining to Qinghai Lake.

The Ta'er Lamasery is one of the six great yellow sect lamaseryies, which is regarded as the "holy land" by Tibetan and Mongolian peoples.

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