Qinghai(Chinese: 青海; pinyin: Qīnghǎi) 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 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 -18.2 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.
Qinghai is administratively divided into one prefecture-level city, one prefecture, and six autonomous prefectures:
Qinghai Lake from space, November 1994.
- Haidong (海东 | Hǎidōng Diqu)
- Golog (果洛藏族自治州 | Guǒluò Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu)
- Haibei (海北藏族自治州 | Hǎiběi Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu)
- Hainan (海南藏族自治州 | Hǎinán Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu)
- Haixi (海西蒙古族藏族自治州 | Hǎixī Měnggǔzú Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu)
- Huangnan (黄南藏族自治州 | Huángnán Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu)
- Yushu (玉树藏族自治州 | Yùshù Zàngzú Zìzhìzhōu)
All of these are in turn divided into four districts, two county-level cities, thirty counties, and seven autonomous counties.
Qinghai's economy is amongst the smallest in all of China. Its nominal GDP for 2007 was just 76.1 billion RMB (US$10 billion) and contributes to a little over 0.3% of the entire country's economy. Per capita GDP was 13,836 RMB (US$1,820).
Its heavy industry includes iron and steel productions, located near its capital city of Xining. Oil and natural gas from the Chaidamu Basin have also been an important contributor to the economy.