The Largest Province in China

About Qinghai Province

is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake. It borders Gansu on the northeast, the Xinjiang Autonomous Region on the northwest, Sichuan on the southeast, and Tibet Autonomous Region on the southwest.

Qinghai was only relatively recently made a province of China. A large part of the area, historically called Kokonor/ Koknor in English until the early 20th century, lies outside of China proper and has been an ethnic melting pot for centuries, mixing Tibetan, Han Chinese, Mongol, and Turkic influences.

It was a battleground during the Tang and subsequent Chinese dynasties when they fought against successive Tibetan dynasties. Qinghai was under early Ming dynasty control. Prior to 1724, most of the area that is now Qinghai was under Tibetan control, but in that year it was conquered by the armies of the Qing Dynasty.

Following the defeat of the Dzungars by the Qing in the mid 18th century, the area became home to peoples from what is now northern Xinjiang known as the Kokonor Mongols (Kokonor is the Mongol language name of Qinghai). In 1928, Qinghai became a province of the Republic of China. Subsequently it became the primary base for warlord Ma Bufang, before it became a province under the People's Republic of China in 1949. 

Qinghai is located on the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau. The Yellow River (Huang He) originates in the middle of the province, while the Yangtze and Mekong have their sources in the southwestern part. The average elevation of Qinghai is over 3000 meters above sea level. Mountain ranges include the Tanggula Mountains and Kunlun Mountains. Its average temperature is approximately -5 to 8°C, with January temperatures ranging from -18 to -7°C and July temperatures ranging from 5 to 21°C. It is also prone to heavy winds as well as sandstorms from February to April. By area, Qinghai is the largest province in China - excluding the autonomous regions of Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia, which are technically not provinces. Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) is the largest lake in the People's Republic of China. Qaidam basin lies in northwestern Qinghai. About a third of this resource rich basin is desert. The basin has an altitude between 2600 to 3300 meters.