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Tibetan Geography

The plateau has an average altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level and rolls out to cover an area of 2.3 million square kilometers. The plateau is traditionally divided into three main regions - Utsang, Kham, and Amdo. Utsang, or Central Tibet, contains the headwaters and river basin of the Brahmaputra River, as well as Mount Kailash, Mount Everest, numerous other sacred mountains and lakes, and the valley which cradles Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. Kham, the southeastern division, is a highly mountainous region, with sacred peaks such as Kawakharpo and Minyak Kangri. This area also houses vast grasslands surrounding numerous major river basins. Amdo, in the northeast, is filled with fertile rolling grasslands, salt lakes, the Yellow River Basin, and the huge snowcapped peaks of the Amnye Machen range. Throughout the Plateau, there is a great diversity of terrain, ranging from rocky heights, arid deserts, rolling grasslands, deep river gorges, forested valleys, and alpine meadows, not to mention countless snow mountain peaks, rivers, waterfalls, high-altitude lakes, and caves.