Where is Tibet?

Where is Tibet?

To put it simply, Tibet sits in the heart of Asia, right between India and China. Some consider it to be the far Eastern edge of Central Asia, while others classify it as East Asia.

In this wonderfully clear map from Michael Buckley, we see the vast, high-altitude Tibetan Plateau, and the surrounding regions: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, China and (not labeled) to the north, Xinjiang (East Turkestan).

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Tibet Map — Tibetan Plateau

Map of Tibetan Plateau from www.meltdownintibet.com

 

The Tibetan Plateau

The Tibetan Plateau is a geographically spectacular area, surrounded by range upon range of extreme high-altitude mountains which provide the sources for many of Asia’s great rivers, including the Indus, Sutlej, Yarlung Tsampo (which becomes the Brahmaputra in India), Salween, Mekong, Yangtse, and Yellow rivers.

 

Where is Tibet — Map of Mountain Ranges and Rivers

Rivers and Bordering Mountain Ranges of Tibet. © Hugo Ahlenius, UNEP/GRID-Arendal

 

The most prominent of the mountain ranges bordering Tibet is the Himalayan Range — including Mt. Everest, the world’s highest peak — to the south. But there are many other impressive ranges as well.

The Kunlun Range to the north separates the Tibetan Plateau from the deserts of East Turkistan, and the Qilian Range to the northeast forms the border with the Hexi Corridor and the Gobi Desert.

To the east are the Hengduan Mountains and to the west the Karakorum range.

Tibet Map from NASA

The Tibetan Plateau seen from space (NASA)

 

A Bird’s Eye View of the Tibetan Plateau

In the NASA image above, you can see the mountain ranges marking the borders of the Tibetan Plateau quite clearly.

The dark brown scoop in the center of the image is the Tibetan Plateau, with the Himalayas marking a clear, curving boundary with green India on the south, extending up toward the Karakorum Range to the west.

To the north, we see where the Tibetan Plateau separates from the golden-colored oval Tarim Basin, and it’s huge Taklamakan Desert, both of East Turkestan (Xinjiang).

Continuing along the line demarking the Tibetan Plateau from East Turkestan’s desert to the northeast, we can trace the dark curving edge of the Qilian Range, and see the lighter brown shades of the Gobi extending up to the northeast.

There is a large dark dot in the northeastern section of the Tibetan Plateau that is Lake Kokonor. Continuing down, south along the darker edge of the Plateau, we find the Hengduan Mountains roughly circling back toward the Himalayas to complete the circle.*

Current Tibet Maps

Most current maps show Tibet as part of China, since China occupied Tibet in 1959, so you will usually see maps like the map of China below, which does not show Tibet as a separate country.

In this context, you will see that Tibet is called Xizang, or the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), which is considerably smaller than the Tibetan Plateau region. The historically and ethnically Tibetan areas outside the area called Xizang are included, in such maps, in the areas of Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu.

 

Where is Tibet? Map of China

Current Map of China. See www.mapsofworld.com/china.

 

A map of the historical and ethnic areas of Tibet would look more like this:

Tibet Map for Where is Tibet?

Historical and Ethnic Tibet

 

Sources

In addition to the Tibetan map images and sites linked to from above:

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tibetan_Plateau

 

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By Lobsang Wangdu

 

Comments

  1. I stronly beleive in the fact that Tibetian nation’s light will succeed, and will get peace at the end.
    It is the time the light-workers to hold each other’s hand strongly to raise the vibration of the world .
    Togehther we can stop the wars, and make peace on the planet Earth.
    I congratulate for you/your team for making this beautiful site, and for showing the Tibetian culture.
    It is not the religion what is imporatnt as there are so much religions. I’m mostly interested in the heart, mind opening of religions, and i feel that tibetian religion is one of the highest one in this aspect.
    So good work carry on.
    Namaste

  2. China even though they boast how old their culture is they act in such childish and oppressive ways. Bullying Tibetans and denying everything. The British went through their own stage of wanting to take everything and thinking it was perfectly ok to do that and now we’ve got off balance letting our country being over run by foreigners but at least we do not treat others like the Chinese government do now. One can only hope they will grow up and realise the Tibetan people are a treasure and should be left alone and helped in the way they want not the way the Chinese government thinks is right.

  3. hi, is tibet a free country or a part of china? Please tell us all history of tibet

    • Hi Sunil, On this site we are focused on Tibetan culture rather than the very serious political issues concerning Tibet. For the definitive answer to your question, we suggest you read His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s autobiography, called Freedom in Exile, and perhaps Dragon in the Land of Snows, a History of Modern Tibet, by Tsering Shakya.
      All the best to you!

  4. I believe China took over Tibet back in 1949. They try to erase Tibet on the map.

  5. Does Tibet fall only in between India and china? you can not put it simply as you stated above. i think you need to gain some more knowledge to write it.

  6. Suvendu Dey says:

    Really helpful information. Thank you.

  7. Harjit Singh says:

    One day you will get it back from China. My Best Wishes!

  8. jana fortier says:

    Hi, can you tell us the scale of each of the maps? Thanks!

    • Hi Jana,
      Sorry, we didn’t make these maps. The credit for each one is on the post. You would need to go to the makers. All the best to you.

  9. tibet is a country or a area ?

  10. Susan Gee Rumsey says:

    When you see how many important waterways originate in Tibet, it is easy to understand why another country would want it for their own. Thank you for this most interesting post that explains so much.

    • Thanks for writing in, Susan! It is remarkable how critical how many major rivers have their source in Tibet, making it politically critical to multiple countries.

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