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Qinghai Province

Name (qīng hǎi) ['green' 'sea'] Old Name Chinghai WG
CapitalXining
Population5.806 million (0.42 %) [31st] comparison table
Area720,000 km2 [277,992 mile2] (7.50 %) [4th]
GDP39,633 (0.92 %) [21st]
Position of Qinghai in China
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Google map of Qinghai
Beijing Tianjin Shanghai Hong Kong Xinjiang Tibet Qinghai Gansu Inner Mongolia Heilongjiang Jilin Liaoning Yunnan Sichuan Guangxi Hainan Taiwan Guangdong Guizhou Chongqing Ningxia Shandong Fujian Zhejiang Shaanxi Shanxi Hebei Henan Hunan Hubei Jiangxi Anhui Jiangsu

Neighbors

Tibet Xinjiang Gansu Sichuan

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Qinghai is often over-looked, its neighbors Tibet and Xinjiang are much better known even though it is part of the same high Tibetan plateau. Qinghai is geographically and historically part of the Tibetan kingdom; it was made a province as late as 1928. Subject to very low rainfall, cool summers and very cold winters it is not conducive to agriculture and its isolation makes industrial development difficult. The northwest is the driest area; while the central basin Qaidam Pendi has a harsh desert terrain with salt marshes and intermittent river courses; together this forms the ancient region of Amdo . Except for the eastern portion close to Gansu the province did not come under Chinese control until the Qing dynasty. Its desolate nature has made it a suitable place to build prison camps for dangerous criminals.

Qinghai, landscape, view, mountains
Mountain and lake on Qinghai-Tibet plateau
Tue 12th Sep

Mulberry bark money

Among the most influential inventions of the Chinese has been paper money. While the rest of the world was lugging around silver and gold China had made the break in the Tang dynasty around 800CE. In China the problem was that normal coinage was in standard bronze discs. The coins had a hole in the middle so they could be strung together in groups of 100. A string of cash was a heavy and inaccurate unit of currency (some traders would claim a 'complete' string which would only have 65 coins). How much better to carry around IOUs rather than cash? As long as the IOU was unequivocally signed by a reputable merchant it was just as valuable as thecoins it represented.

The problem of metal coins was particularly acute when the government forced Sichuan province to use iron coins. As soon as the government saw that the system of IOUs was working well they of course stepped in and made it a government monopoly.

At the same time counterfeiters threatened the new currency and for that reason in the reign of Kublai Khan (1279-1294) Marco Polo witnessed the use of money in the form of strips of black mulberry bark which was then marked with the red seal of the Emperor (only the Emperor was allowed to write in vermillion ink). The bark had to be specially processed and so the notes were hard to forge. An even rarer form of currency had been attempted much earlier in the Han dynasty (175 BCE) when Emperor Wudi introduced money made from pieces of hide from rare white stags.

As the issuing of paper money did not have to be backed by actual silver and gold the modern system was born where a government can just print money to get itself out of (or into!) financial difficulties.


Read full story...

Qinghai Lake, also known as Kokonor, after which the province is named, is the largest lake in China 1,740 sq miles [4,507 sq kms] and tha largest saltwater lake in Central Asia. It stands close to the province's north-eastern border; the salt lake is a haven for birds at Spring time - especially on an island called niǎo dǎoBird Island . The Lake is at a high altitude 10,500 feet [3,200 meters] and surrounded by good pasture. Some pilgrims spend about a month to walk around the margin of the lake. Most of the agriculture and limited industry is located near here and so is the provincial capital city Xining. Discovery of oil fields within the province has led to patchy industrial development. Lake Zabuye is China's main source of the important element Lithium . Tanjianshan near Da Qaidam has an important gold mine.

Recently tourism and development has been greatly aided by the completion of the Lanzhou to Lhasa railway running through the middle of Qinghai.

Qinghai, Xining, cityscape
Daoist temple near center of Xining, Qinghai
Tue 12th Sep

Mulberry bark money

Among the most influential inventions of the Chinese has been paper money. While the rest of the world was lugging around silver and gold China had made the break in the Tang dynasty around 800CE. In China the problem was that normal coinage was in standard bronze discs. The coins had a hole in the middle so they could be strung together in groups of 100. A string of cash was a heavy and inaccurate unit of currency (some traders would claim a 'complete' string which would only have 65 coins). How much better to carry around IOUs rather than cash? As long as the IOU was unequivocally signed by a reputable merchant it was just as valuable as thecoins it represented.

The problem of metal coins was particularly acute when the government forced Sichuan province to use iron coins. As soon as the government saw that the system of IOUs was working well they of course stepped in and made it a government monopoly.

At the same time counterfeiters threatened the new currency and for that reason in the reign of Kublai Khan (1279-1294) Marco Polo witnessed the use of money in the form of strips of black mulberry bark which was then marked with the red seal of the Emperor (only the Emperor was allowed to write in vermillion ink). The bark had to be specially processed and so the notes were hard to forge. An even rarer form of currency had been attempted much earlier in the Han dynasty (175 BCE) when Emperor Wudi introduced money made from pieces of hide from rare white stags.

As the issuing of paper money did not have to be backed by actual silver and gold the modern system was born where a government can just print money to get itself out of (or into!) financial difficulties.


Read full story...

Places to visit in Qinghai

Close to Ledu is the ancient Qutan Monastery . Golmud is an oil and transport town on the main railway link from Gansu to Tibet. Bukadaban Feng is the highest mountain peak (at 22,507 feet [6,860 meters]) in Qinghai on the Qinghai-Xinjiang border. Mengda Tian Chi (Heavenly Lake) is close to the Yellow River 124 miles [200 kms] south east of Xining. It is a Nature reserve and is surrounded by beautiful scenery.

Xining has a 14th century Great Mosque one of the largest in China. The Ta'er or Kumbum Lamasery is an important center for Tibetan Buddhism located south of Xining. It was the birthplace of the present 14th Dalai Lama . An annual horse festival at Jyekundo (Yushu) in July is a colorful local event. Gui'de south of Xining has many fascinating Qing dynasty buildings.

Qinghai, monks, Buddhism, people
Buddhist prayer ceremony at Xining, Qinghai Copyright © Dreamstime see image license

Qinghai Geography

There are Tibetan, Mongolian and Hui people together with Han Chinese in the cities scratching a living in the harsh conditions. Much of Qinghai Province is poor pasture land for yaks and sheep. The province is the source of both the Yangzi (known in China as Chang Jiang and Tongtian He in its upper reaches) and also the Huang He (Yellow River), the two great rivers of China. The Mekong river also rises in the south-east of Qinghai. The area sourcing these three great rivers is designated the Sanjiangyuan Three Rivers National Park.

Qinghai, landscape, lake
Fringe of Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Climate

Temperature axisClimate ChartRainfall axis
Climate chart for Qinghai
Both Temp Rainfall ° C/mms ° F/ins Key
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Major CitiesPopulation
Xining西 639,315

Airports

Xining Caojiabao Airport 西宁曹家堡机场 XNN IATA / ZLXN ICAO
The airport has 1 terminal and is located 18.6 miles (30.0 kms) from Xining
See map of location Xining Caojiabao Airport

City populations for 2012, Province statistics National Bureau of Statistics 2014

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Citation information: Chinasage, 'Qinghai, China', last updated 5 Dec 2016, Web, http://www.chinasage.info/maps/qinghai.htm.

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