Nagqu is in the northern of Tibet. The name "Nagqu" comes from the Nagqu River which is the upper reaches of the Nujiang River. In the past, the river was also called "Heihe" (Black River). Today, "Nagqu" is generally referred to as Nagqu Prefecture. The Nagqu Prefecture Committee and the Nagqu Prefecture Administration are located in Nagqu Town.
Nagqu is one of the important political, economic, cultural and trading centers as well as a transport hub in Tibet. It is also the collection and reshipment centre for the region's animal products, mineral ores, and agricultural and forestry products. Nagqu has a unique landscape. The ancient Yamtung (or Zhangzhung) cultural site, the Bon monasteries, the Holy Lake Nam-tso( or Lake Nam co) and the life of the highland herdsmen are unique tourist attractions.
The local Tibetan people often refer to the plateau of northern Tibet as Changtang (or Qangtang), which is mostly located in Nagqu. An old folk song sings: "The mysterious Changtang is so wild and desolate when you are here the first time; it becomes your lovely hometown when you get to know more."
Nagqu neighbors Chamdo in the east, Ngari in the west,Lhasa, Nyingchi and Xigaze in the south, and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province in the north. It is embraced by the Tanggula, Nyainqentanglha and Kangdese Mountains. The snow-capped Dargo Mountain in the west and the Burgyi Mountain in the east are guarding the treasure land like two ferocious lions. Nagqu Town is the transport hub for northern Tibetan contacts with other parts of the region and other parts of China, bisected by the Xining-Lhasa, Nagqu-Chamdo and Amdo-Shiquanhe highways.
Covering an area of some 400,000 square kilometers, the area is high in the west with an elevation of over 4,500 meters and low in the east. The vast region of the central west is basically flat, dotted with hills and numerous lakes, and crisscrossed by rivers. There are high mountains surrounding the river valleys in the east, which is the farming region of northern Tibet. This area lies at an elevation of 3,500 to 4,500 meters and also has forest resources and bush pasture. It has a climate that is more equitable than that in the central west.
Nagqu Prefecture and the Population
Nagqu Prefecture has a population of 330,286, including 326,920 Tibetans (98.98 percent), 3,258 people of the Han ethnic group and 108 of other ethnic groups. It exercises jurisdiction over 10 counties and the Double Lake Special Administrative Zone. The 10 counties are Nagqu, Amdo, Nyainrong, Biru, Jiali, Baqen, Sog, Pangkog, Xainza and Nyima.
In Nagqu, the vast Changtang grassland commands unique geological features and changing natural landscape. The great force of nature has shaped the gorgeous mountains and rivers of this region. Lake Nam-tso, Lake Tangra Yumco and over 1,000 others are like jadeite scattered on the grassland or gobi desert. There are numerous hot springs and geothermal spots. The region also has rich resources of wildlife and alpine vegetation. There are over 20 animal species under level one or level two national protections. Such rare animals as wild yaks, Tibetan antelope, and Tibetan wild donkeys are being well preserved in the area.
The natural wonders and the special folk customs have formed distinctive tourism treasures. The local people have created colorful religious legends for the mountains, lakes and rivers, which have retained their natural appearance. At the town of Nagqu sits the famous Shodain Monastery with a long history. Every year, the town will host the Nagqu Kyaggen Horse Race that is sure to draw crowds of local people. During the one-week horse racing festival, different kinds of sports activities will be held such as tug-of-war, carrying rocks, archery shooting and yak racing. Song and dance troupes from all parts of Tibet add to the fun.
There are still more places worthy of visiting. Tourists will be impressed by the great grassland, the holy lake of Nam-tso, and the mysterious depopulated area in the northern Tibet. The Tsangdain Monastery at Sog County , the ruins of the Hor King's palace, the Duoduoga Skull Wall in Biru County are all worthy of visiting.
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