Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture

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Yushu Prefecture

玉树州 · ཡུལ་ཤུལ་ཁུལ།
玉树藏族自治州 · ཡུལ་ཤུལ་བོད་རིགས་རང་སྐྱོང་ཁུལ།
Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Dondrub Ling monastery in the town of Gyêgu, Yulshul County
Dondrub Ling monastery in the town of Gyêgu, Yulshul County
Location of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai
Location of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai
Coordinates (Yushu City): 33°00′N 97°01′E / 33.000°N 97.017°E / 33.000; 97.017Coordinates: 33°00′N 97°01′E / 33.000°N 97.017°E / 33.000; 97.017
CountryPeople's Republic of China
Prefectural seatGyêgu, Yushu County
3,689 m (12,103 ft)
Time zoneUTC+8 (China Standard)
ISO 3166 codeCN-QH-27
Licence Plate Prefix青G
Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese玉树藏族自治州
Traditional Chinese玉樹藏族自治州
Tibetan name

Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Tibetan: ཡུལ་ཤུལ་བོད་རིགས་རང་སྐྱོང་ཁུལ།, ZYPY: Yüxü Poirig Ranggyong Kü, Chinese: 玉树藏族自治州; pinyin: Yùshù Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu, retranscribed into Tibetan as ཡུས་ཧྲུའུ།), also transliterated as Yüxü or Yulshul, is an autonomous prefecture of southwestern Qinghai province, China. Largely inhabited by Tibetans, the prefecture has an area of 188,794 square kilometres (72,894 sq mi) and its seat is located in the town of Gyêgu in Yushu County, which is the place of the old Tibetan trade mart of Jyekundo. The official source of the Yellow River lies within the prefecture. Historically, the area belongs to the cultural realm of Kham in eastern Tibet.

On 14 April 2010, an earthquake struck the prefecture, registering a magnitude of 6.9[1][2] (USGS, EMSC) or 7.1[3] (Xinhua). It originated in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, at 07:49 local time.[4][5]


Xia Laxiu village in Yushu county

Yushu Prefecture occupies most of the southwestern third of Qinghai, with the exception of the province's extreme southwestern corner (Tanggulashan Town), which is an exclave of the Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Almost all of the prefecture is located in the uppermost part of the basins of three of Asia's great rivers - the Yellow River, the Yangtze, and the Mekong,[6] although in the remote areas of the far west of the prefecture (the Hoh Xil plateau), and along its northern borders, there are some endorheic basins as well. A significant portion of the prefecture's territory is incorporated into the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve, intended to protect the headwaters of the three great rivers.

Most of the prefecture's population lives in its southeastern part: primarily in the valley of the upper Yangtze (whose section within the prefecture is known in Chinese as the Tongtian River, in Tibetan as Drichu འབྲི་ཆུ།), and some also in the valley of the Mekong (the Dzachu རྫ་ཆུ། (扎曲) River[7]). The highlands away from these two rivers, as well as the western part of the prefecture, have very little population.


With elevations above 3,600 metres (12,000 ft), the prefecture has a harsh climate, with long, cold winters, and short, rainy, and cool to warm summers. Specifically, in the Köppen system, the prefecture ranges from the alpine variation of the subarctic climate (Köppen Dwc), to a full alpine climate (Köppen EH), to a semi-arid climate (Köppen BSk).[8] Most of the annual precipitation occurs from June to September, when on average, a majority of the days each month has some rainfall. The annual mean temperature in Yushu County, at an elevation of 3,690 metres (12,110 ft), is 3.22 °C (37.8 °F) and in Qumarlêb, in the northeast of the prefecture at 4,190 m (13,750 ft) elevation, −2.13 °C (28.2 °F). Sunshine is generous, ranging from around 2500 hours in the prefecture seat to 2780 hours in Qumarlêb.


Agricultural, trees, wheat, millet.


Ethnic groups in Yushu, 2005 Yushu Statistical Yearbook:[9]

Nationality Population Percentage
Tibetan 288,829 97.25%
Han 7,594 2.56%
Hui 295 0.1%
Tu/Monguor 138 <0.1%
Salar 64 <0.1%
Mongol 50 <0.1%
Manchu 22 <0.01%
Others 12 <0.01%

This statistics only includes the registered population, not the floating population which is estimated at about 50-60,000 for the entire prefecture.


The prefecture is subdivided into six county-level divisions: six counties:

Yushu mcp.png
# Name Hanzi Hanyu Pinyin Tibetan Wylie
Tibetan Pinyin
(2010 Census)
Area (km²) Density
1 Yushu City 玉树市 Yùshù Shì ཡུལ་ཤུལ་གྲོང་ཁྱེར། yul shul grong khyer
Yüxü Chongkyir
120,447 13,462 8.94
2 Zadoi County
(Zaduo County)
杂多县 Záduō Xiàn རྫ་སྟོད་རྫོང་། rdza stod rdzong
Zadoi Zong
58,268 33,333 1.74
3 Chindu County
(Chenduo County)
称多县 Chènduō Xiàn ཁྲི་འདུ་རྫོང་། khri 'du rdzong
Chindu Zong
55,619 13,793 4.03
4 Zhidoi County
(Zhiduo County)
治多县 Zhìduō Xiàn འབྲི་སྟོད་རྫོང་། 'bri stod rdzong
Zhidoi Zong
30,037 66,667 0.45
5 Nangqên County
(Nangqian County)
囊谦县 Nángqiān Xiàn ནང་ཆེན་རྫོང་། nang chen rdzong
Nangqên Zong
85,825 11,539 7.43
6 Qumarlêb County
(Qumalai County)
曲麻莱县 Qūmálái Xiàn ཆུ་དམར་ལེབ་རྫོང་། chu dmar leb rdzong
Qumarlêb Zong
28,243 50,000 0.56


The eastern part of the prefecture, where most of its population lives, is served by the China National Highway 214 and the recently constructed (opened 2009) Yushu Batang Airport.

The far western part of the prefecture, which is hundreds of kilometers away from the prefecture's eastern "core", and has very little population, is crossed by China National Highway 109 and the Qinghai-Tibet Railway.

History and traditional culture[edit]

The main monastery in Yushu's Gyêgu township

Yushu prefecture is rich in Buddhist monasteries. Being a constituent of the former Nangchen kingdom, the area was, for most of the time, not under domination by the Dalai Lama’s Gelugpa order in Lhasa. The different balance of power in this part of Kham enabled the older Tibetan Buddhist orders to prevail in Yushu. Of the 195 pre-1958 lamaseries only 23 belonged to the Gelugpa.

An overwhelming majority of more than 100 monasteries followed and still follow the teachings of the various Kagyupa schools, with some of their sub-sects only found in this part of Tibet. The Sakyapa were and are also strong in Yushu, with many of their 32 monasteries being among the most significant in Kham. The Nyingmapa’s monastic institutions amount to about the same number, while the Bönpo are only met with in one lamasery they share with the Nyingmapa.

Prior to collectivization in 1958, the entire monastic population of present-day Yushu TAP amounted to more than 25,000 Buddhist monks and nuns, with approximately 300 incarnate lamas among them. On the average about three to five per cent of the population were monastic, with a strikingly higher share in Nangchen county, where monks and nuns made up between 12 and 20% of the community.[10]


  1. ^ "Magnitude 6.9 – SOUTHERN QINGHAI, CHINA". earthquake.usgs.gov. 2008-05-12. Archived from the original on 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  2. ^ "EMSC - European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre". Emsc-csem.org. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  3. ^ About 400 dead, 10,000 injured in 7.1-magnitude quake in China's Qinghai, xinhuanet.com. Retrieved 14 April 2010.
  4. ^ 兰州军区和武警部队官兵投入青海玉树抗震救灾 (in Chinese). Xinhua.net. 14 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-15.
  5. ^ "Magnitude 6.9 – SOUTHERN QINGHAI, CHINA 2010". USGS. 14 April 2010. Archived from the original on 15 April 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-14.
  6. ^ M. Zhao, O. Schell. "Tibet: Plateau in Peril". World Policy Journal, 2008
  7. ^ The source of the Mekong River, Qinghai, China. Discovery and First Descent of the Mekong Headwaters. Masayuki Kitamura, Exploration Club of the Tokyo University of Agriculture. Japanese Alpine News, Vol. 1, October 2001.
  8. ^ Peel, M. C. and Finlayson, B. L. and McMahon, T. A. (2007). "Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification". Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. 11: 1633–1644. ISSN 1027-5606.
  9. ^ Yushu Zangzu Zizhizhou Tongjiju [Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Statistics Bureau]: Yushu Tongjiju Nianjian 2005 [Yushu Statistical Yearbook 2005], Yushu 2006
  10. ^ Gruschke, A. (2005). The Cultural Monuments of Tibet’s Outer Provinces: Kham. Vol. 2: The Yushu Part of Kham. Bangkok,. p. 36. ISBN 974-480-049-6.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)

External links[edit]