Tibet | WWF

Home to the tallest mountain in the world

What and where
Tibet (Tibet Autonomous Region or TAR) borders Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan internally while India, Burma, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal meet its external borders. It covers a massive 1,220,000 sq km (470,920 square miles), which is about 12.8% of the whole of China.

The average height of the whole region is more than 4,000 m above sea level, for which Tibet is known as the 'roof of the world'. The highest peak of Tibet is also the highest in the world. Mt Everest is 8,848 m above sea level. Most of the Himalaya mountain range, one of the youngest mountain ranges in the world at only 4 million years old, lies within 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.

The long history and exotic religion allures more and more tourists every year. Nearly all Tibetans follow Tibetan Buddhism, known as Lamaism, and there are therefore numerous monasteries, murals and sculptures, and solemn stupas built to worship Buddha.

Lhasa and Shigatse, the most important cities of Tibet, feature most of the religious monuments including the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Ramoche Monastery, Tashilunpo Monastery and Sakya Monastery.

Western Tibet, Ngari, is a vast barren plateau and 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 difficult, 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.

Tibetean woman with her child on back. 
    © WWF / Claire DOOLE
Tibetean woman with her child on back.
© WWF / Claire DOOLE