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Home Tibet City Guide Shigatse


Shigatse connects with three countries of Nepal, Bhutan and Sikkim in the south, Ngari in the west, Nagqu in the north and Lhasa and Shannan in the east. It occupies an area of 176,000 square kilometers, the latitude being between 82'E and 92'20''E and longitude between 27'23''N and 31'49''N. It is 800 kilometers from east to west and 220 kilometers from north to south, with a border of 1,354 kilometers.

Historically, Shigatse was called Tsang, which was an important administrative district of Tibet. During the reign of the Tubo Kingdom, the ruling class divided its central part into two divisions of Wei and Tsang,according to geographic conditions.Tsang,with Shigatse as its center, was again divided into Yeru (present-day Nyang Qu River area) and Rulha(present-day upper reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo River). The area extends to Gamba La Mountains in the east and Kangdese Mountains in the west. Because Tsang is located mostly along the upper Yarlung Zangbo River, it was also called Houtsang, a name still used today.

In the 13th century, the Yuan Dynasty divided Tibet into thirteen 10,000 household units, and Shigatse had six namely, Qoimai, Xalhu, Jigmei, Lhadoiqain, Lhadoilho and Xangba. During the reign of the Pagmo Zhuba Kingdom, this organizational system in Tibet was abolished and replaced with 13 zongs (counties).Shigatse had also set up counties like Rinbung, Shigatse, Bainang and Gyangze. Early the last century, the Tibetan government promoted Shigatse to the level of gyizong (district), which had under its jurisdiction 16 counties and 30 or so independent shikas(manor).

After the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet in 1951, two branch Working Committees were established in Shigatse and Gyangze, respectively. In 1956, an administrative office at the district level was established. In 1959,the Prefectural Commissioner's Office was set up in Shigatse and Gyangze, respectively. In 1964, the two offices merged into one and was named Shigatse Prefectural Commissioner's Office, and renamed in 1978 as Shigatse Administrative Office.

Under the jurisdiction of Shigatse Administrative Office are the city of Shigatse at the county level, 17 counties of Gyangze, Bainang, Kangma, Yadong, Rinbung, Namling, Xitongmoin, Larze, Sagya, Kamba, Dinggye, Tingri, Nyalam, Gyilung, Ngamring, Saga, Zongba, and Zham port, the largest State trade port in Tibet. In the district are 218 townships (including 12 towns), 1,752 villagers committees and 28 urban residents committees.

Included in a population of 609,228 in 1997 were 554,704, or 91.1 percent farmers and herdsmen. Tibetans formed 97 percent of the population, and the other 3 percent was composed of Han Chinese and other 15 ethnic groups, such as Hui, Monggol, Tu, Manchu, Miao and Zhuang. There were 1,875 Xia'erba people. The population in Shigatse forms one-fourth of the population in the Tibet Autonomous Region, and the density of population is 3.3 people per square kilometer. Most of the people live in the Yarlung Zangbo River area, and the western pastoral area is sparsely inhabited.

Shigatse is located mostly between the middle of the Himalayas and the middle of the Kangdese-Nyainqentanglha ranges. The southern and northern terrains are high, while the South Tibet Plateau and the Yarlung Zangbo River constitute the low-lying middle area. Formed basically of high mountains, wide valleys, lakes and basins, this land has a varied topography with an average elevation of more than 4,000 meters.

The Himalayas, which stretch across southern Shigatse, is the youngest and highest mountain range in the world, with an average elevation of more than 6,000 meters. In that area, five peaks are more than 8,000 meters high namely, Mount Qomolangma (8,848.13 meters), Mount Lhoze(8,516 meters),Mount Kab(8,463 meters), Mount Qowowuyag (8,201 meters) and Mount Xixabangma (8,012 meters). Mount Qomolangma, located on the border between Shigatse and Nepel, is the world's highest peak, the roof of the world. In addition are 14 peaks that stand more than 7,000 meters above sea level.

Besides those mentioned above are high mountains such as Karru La, Gyaco La, Ma La, Zom La, Lhagyi and Mari La. All these mountains are spectacular natural views ideal for sightseeing, exploring and conducting scientific investigations.
The upper southern Tibetan basin along the Yarlung Zangbo and Nyang Qu rivers is the largest grain production area in Shigatse. It consists of two parts of the densely populated Larze-Rinbung valley and Gyangze-Shigatse plain. Other plains include the Penqoi River valley on the southern Tibet Plateau at the northern foot of the Himalayas and some sparsely scattered small river valleys. These plains sprawl on gentle slopes, with thick soil, temperate climate and plentiful water. With natural conditions suitable for growing crops, they form the major farming areas in Shigatse.

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