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Qinghai Province

Area: 721,000 km2

Population: 5,390,000

GDP (2007): CNY76.1 billion

Local Weather: Click for Da-qaidam, Qinghai Forecast

Average temperature: -18.2oC to -7oC in January, 5oC to 21oC in July.

Annual average rainfall: 700 mm in the eastern river valley, under 50 mm in the Qaidam Basin; precipitation decreases from east to west.

Physical features: Covers the northeast portion of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau; includes the 200,000-square-kilometer Qaidam Basin in the northwest; in the northeast are the Yellow and Huangshui River Valleys.

Mountains: Altun and Qilian Mountains in the north; Kunlun, Hoh Xil, and Qimantag in the west Tanggula, where China's longest river, the Yangtze, has its source, in the southwest; A'nyemaqen and Bayan Har in the southeast, with the 5,464-kilometer Yellow River originating from the latter.

Rivers: Yellow River and tributaries; Tuotuo-Tongtian River, which is the upper reach of the Yangtze River; inland intermittent rivers in the basin.

Lakes: Qinghai Lake, China's largest salt lake with an area of 4,583 square kilometers; Gyaring and Ngoring Lakes, two adjacent fresh water lakes; many smaller lakes, salt lakes, and marshes.

Products: Wheat, highland barley, millet, rice, potatoes, rape, broad beans, peas; leather, musk, antlers; rhubarb, Chinese caterpillar fungus; petroleum, salt, sylvite, coal, lead, zinc.

Specialty: Xining Wool

Administrative divisions: 6 autonomous prefectures, 2 cities, 30 counties, and 7 autonomous counties.

Capital: Xining

Neighboring areas: Gansu and Sichuan Provinces; Tibet and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regions.

Major cities: Xining, Golmud, Lenghu, Da Qaidam, Yushu, Gonghe, Delingha.

Tourist attractions: Tar Lamasery, 20 kilometers southwest of Xining

Elevation extremes: The average elevation is more than 3,000 meters above sea level, varying from 1,650 meters to 6,860 meters, while 54% of the area is between 4,000 and 5,000 meters. The province is divided into the Qilian Mountains, the Qaidam Basin, and the Qingnan Plateau.

Climate:

It has a plateau continental climate thanks to its elevation, topography, latitude and atmospheric circulation. The province has a long and not-cold winter and a short and cool summer. The temperature varies greatly in the province with an average annual temperature of -5.6íŠ-8.7íŠ. The precipitation also varies noticeably, the southeast area receiving 450-600 ml of rainfalls annually.

Natural resources:

A total of 125 minerals have had their deposits verified. Of these, 50 are among the top ten in terms of reserves in the country and 11, including potassium chloride and magnesium salts, have the largest deposits of their kinds in China. Of the 45 urgently needed minerals in China, 21 have been found in the province, their deposits all ranking among the top ten in the country. In addition, Qinghai has more than 30 salt lakes with proved reserves of 70 billion tons. Qinghai is also rich in nonferrous metals and non-metallic minerals. Its asbestos reserve leads other provinces and regions in China. The famed Qaidam Basin is abundant in natural gas and oil. There are 16 oilfields and six gas fields. The total oil reserve is 1.244 billion tons, of which 200 million tons has been explored; the explored gas reserve is 47.2 billion cubic meters.

Hydraulic energy:

The province has 178 hydropower stations with a total installed generation capacity of 21.66 million kw, which has an exploitable capacity of 18 million kw, and generate 77 billion kwh annually. The province plans to build seven more medium-sized hydropower stations, which, with a total installed generation capacity of 11 million kw, will produce 36.8 billion kwh each year. The construction cost of each power station in Qinghai is 20-40% lower than that of the national average. The province is also rich in solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Pastures:

Qinghai is one of the five major pasturelands in China. It boasts 31.6 million ha of grazing land, accounting for 15% of the country's total. Among the 940 species of grass growing in its grasslands, 190 species are of high nutrition with crude protein, crude fat and low coarse fiber. The livestock includes sheep, yak, horse, camel and goat, all cold-resistant. Qinghai's domestic yaks top the country in number and account for one-third of the world's total.

Wild animals and plants:

The wild plants discovered in Qinghai, some 1,000 have economic value, including over 100 medicinal herbs. Its Chinese caterpillar fungus, in particular, is famous in China and abroad. Qinghai has 290 kinds of birds and 109 species of mammal beasts, 21 of them being under first-class state protection, 53 being under second-class state protection, 36 being under provincial protection, and 22 having been listed in the International Trade Convention on Endangered Wild Animals and Plants, Appendixes I and II.

Tourism resources: Qinghai features ethnic custom tours unique to the plateau. It has over ten scenic spots including the Birds Islet, the Mengda Natural Reserves, Ta'er Monastery, snow-capped A'Nyemaqen Mountain, Sun-and-Moon Hill, and Longyang Gorge Reservoir, the largest artificial reservoir in