Most of the province consists of mountains and high plateaus, with an average elevation of over 3000 metres above sea level. Between the high mountains are broad basins, rolling hilly areas and extensive flat tableland.
Total population: 5.54 million Population growth rate: 1.448%
Qinghai has a continental climate. The greater part of it is dry and cold and with long winters, short summers, frequent winds, little rainfall, long hours of sunshine and great differences in temperature between day and night. It has a mean annual temperature of 0 to 8 degrees Celsius - the hottest month, July, averaging 20 degrees Celsius and the coldest month, January, below -8 degrees Celsius - and a mean annual precipitation generally below 300 mm.
The most famously Qinghai dishes include the Chinese Caterpillar Fungus (Dongchong Xiacao), Chrysanthemum Carp (Li Yu), Flagelliform Nostoc (Facai), Soup Cooked with Lamb and Oxen Entrails (Zasui Tang) and various forms of local mushroom.
The minorities living in Qinghai love singing and dancing, which has distinctive ethical characteristics.
A total of 123 kinds of mineral deposits have been verified. Of these, 50 are among the top ten in terms of reserves in the country and 11 including potassium chloride and magnesium salts have the largest deposits of their kinds in China. Many minerals are urgently needed resources in China and abroad. The famed Qaidam Basin is abundant in natural gas and oil. The province has 178 hydropower stations with a total installed generation capacity of 21.66 million kw and an annual generation capacity of 77 billion kwh. Qinghai has 36.46 hectares of pastureland, accounting for 50.54 percent of the province's total area. The province is home to 411 species of vertebrates. Of the wild plants discovered, some 1,000 have economic value, and 680 are medicinal herbs. Of the wild animals, 21 kinds are under first-class state protection, 53 are under second-class state protection, 36 are under provincial protection, and 22 have been listed in the International Trade Convention on Endangered Wild Animals and Plants.
Snow-covered mountains, icy peaks, deserts, vast pastures and sparkling lakes mesmerize its visitors, while flocks of rare birds and animals dot this unique and colorful natural landscape. Two of Qinghai's biggest highlights, Ta'er Monastery (Kumbum Monastery), which is considered one of the six great monasteries of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism and vast Qinghai Lake, attract nature lovers who enjoy camping, hiking and bird-watching as well as people who have a fascination with Buddhism. The 'Small Imperial Palace in Qinghai'---Qutan Monastery, snow - capped A'Nyemaqen Mountain and the 'Highland Xishuangbanna' Mengda Nature Reserve are also well-known all over the world. Culturally speaking, 'Repkong Art' displays the creative talents of the Qinghai people through painting.
The specialities mainly include marmot skin, carpet, lambskin, and handicraft articles such as silver ware, ornaments and Zang-style knives. The province is well-know for animal-husbandry and abounds in natural resources. The Xining wool, the yak hide, the otter hide, the leather products, the pilose antler, and the wooden fabric enjoy a brisk market both at home and abroad. In addition, the region grows quite a variety of cash crops and Chinese herbs. These include fritillary, lyceum Chinese, the Chinese caterpillar fungus, Chinese giant beans as well as rhubarb, musk, honey and so on.