East Tibet, Kham and Amdo
Traditionally, Tibet is comprised of the three provinces of Amdo (now split by China into the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu & Sichuan), Kham (largely incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai), and U-Tsang.
Today, what Tibet or Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) officially refers is the area that comprises U-Tsang and Western Kham which is less than half of historic Tibet. But for many of the Tibetans, Tibet still means the three provinces of Amdo, Kham and U-Tsang. Despite majority of the Amdo and Kham regions today are mainland Chinese part, but Tibetan culture and traditions are still dominant and in fact, looks better preserve than in Tibet proper.
Kham is the Tibetan name for the eastern third of the Tibetan plateau. Kham comprises a total of 50 contemporary counties, distributed between the Chinese provinces of Sichuan (16 counties), Yunnan (3 counties), and Qinghai (6 counties) as well as the eastern portion of the Tibet Autonomous Region (25 counties). While the culture and history of Kham are closely connected to those of central Tibet, the region has many special features. Kham has a rugged terrain characterized by mountain ridges and gorges running from northwest to southeast. Numerous rivers, including the Mekong, Yangtze, Yalong Jiang, and the Salween flow through Kham. The people of Kham, known as Khampas are known for their warlike spirit and rich culture.
The Tibetan cultural sphere of Amdo is one of the most important and varied within the Tibetan Plateau. The region of Amdo is distributed mainly in the Chinese province of Qinghai, with smaller, but relevant parts in Gansu and Sichuan. Amdo is roughly the northeastern part of ethnic Tibet; it encompasses the section from the Yellow River northeastward to Gansu province in China. Amdo was and is the home of many important Tibetan Buddhist monk teachers or lamas) who had a major influence on both politics and religious development of Tibet, like the great reformer Tsongkhapa, the 14th Dalai Lama as well as the 10th Panchen Lama.It is, therefore, a region spotted with many Buddhist monasteries - with Kumbum Jampa Ling (Chin. Ta'er Si) near Xining, Qutan Si and Labrang Tashi Khyil south of Lanzhou being among the most famous and important within the Tibetan cultural realm.
Kham and Amdo are new frontiers for adventure travelers, a place where one can find unclimbed summits, galloping horsemen, old-growth forest, and villages and monasteries where no foreigner has set foot in fifty years.
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