Known as the birthplace of three of Asia’s rivers, Qinghai province is situated on the northeastern part of the Tibet-Qinghai Plateau. The Yellow River originates in the middle of the province, while the Yangtze and Mekong have their headwaters in the southern part. Lying on highlands averaging 3, 000 m above sea level, Qinghai Province sprawls over an area of more than 720,000 sq km. It has a population of 4, 667, 000, more than 42% of whom are people of the Tibetan, Hui, Tu, Salar, Mongol and other ethnic groups.
Qinghai has little rainfall and plenty of sunshine. The annual precipitation averages 700 mm in the river valleys in the eastern part, while that in the Qaidam Basin in west is below 50 mm. In some places it is only a little more than 10 mm. The province has a mean annual temperature of 0°-8°C in the Southern Qinghai Plateau and the Qilian Mountain Area and 0°?6°C in other parts.
The province is topographically known as the Qinghai Plateau, which is an important part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The Altun and Qilian mountainous areas in the north are mostly more than 4,000 meters above sea level. The Yellow and Huangshui river valleys in the northeastern corner, about 2,000 meters in elevation, are the lowest lying region and the most important farming area of Qinghai. The Qinghai Lake Basin consists of a vast lake deposit plain well suited for farming and animal husbandry. The Qaidam, a large inland basin walled in by the Altun, Qilian and Kunlun mountains in the northwest, slops from northwest to southeast and is interspersed with numerous salt lakes and swamps. Under the varied terrains contains a large number of underground mines such as petroleum, lead, zinc, and copper. The Qilian is called the "Treasure Mountains", and the Qaidam has its name as the "Treasure Basin".
Qinghai features ethnic custom tours unique to the plateau. It has over ten scenic spots, including the Birds Islet, the Mengda Natural Reserves, Ta’er Monastery, snow-capped A’Nyemaqen Mountain, Sun-and-Moon Hill, and Longyang Gorge Reservoir, the largest artificial reservoir in China, and the Dulan International Game Land. Every year large numbers of tourists come here especially to find clean air and blue skies.