Most modern geographical sources consider Tibet to be located in East Asia, while some (mostly European and American sources) have regarded Tibet as part of Central Asia; today's maps of the West show a trend toward considering all of modern China, including Tibet, to be part of East Asia.Some academic institutions also include Tibet in their South Asia studies programs. Tibet is west of China proper, and within China, Tibet is regarded as part of 西部 (Xībù), a term usually translated by Chinese media as "the Western section", meaning "Western China".
Tibet has some of the world's tallest mountains, with several of them making the top ten list. Mount Everest, at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft), is the highest mountain on Earth, located on the border with Nepal. Several major rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau (mostly in present-day Qinghai Province). These include Yangtze, Yellow River, Indus River, Mekong, Ganges, Salween and the Yarlung Zangbo River (Brahmaputra River). The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, along the Yarlung Zangbo River, is regarded by some as the deepest canyon in the world, and is even slightly longer than Grand Canyon, hence it is regarded by many as the world's largest canyon. The Indus, Brahmaputra rivers originate from a lake (Tib: Tso Mapham) in Western Tibet, near Mount Kailash. The mountain is a holy pilgrimage for both Hindus and Tibetans. The Hindus consider the mountain to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The Tibetan name for Mt. Kailash is Khang Rinpoche. Tibet has numerous high-altitude lakes referred to in Tibetan as tso or co. These include Qinghai Lake, Lake Manasarovar, Namtso, Pangong Tso, Yamdrok Lake, Siling Co, Lhamo La-tso, Lumajangdong Co, Lake Puma Yumco, Lake Paiku, Lake Rakshastal, Dagze Co and Dong Co. The Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) is the largest lake in the People's Republic of China.
The atmosphere is severely dry nine months of the year, and average annual snowfall is only 18 inches, due to the rain shadow effect whereby mountain ranges prevent moisture from the ocean from reaching the plateaus. Western passes receive small amounts of fresh snow each year but remain traversable all year round. Low temperatures are prevalent throughout these western regions, where bleak desolation is unrelieved by any vegetation beyond the size of low bushes, and where wind sweeps unchecked across vast expanses of arid plain. The Indian monsoon exerts some influence on eastern Tibet. Northern Tibet is subject to high temperatures in the summer and intense cold in the winter.
Cultural Tibet consists of several regions. These include Amdo (A mdo) in the northeast, which is under the administration as part of the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. Kham (Khams) in the southeast, is divided among western Sichuan, northern Yunnan, southern Qinghai and the eastern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Ü-Tsang (dBus gTsang) (Ü in the center, Tsang in the center-west, and Ngari (mNga' ris) in the far west) covered the central and western portion of Tibet Autonomous Region. The distribution of Amdo and eastern Kham into surrounding provinces was initiated by the Yongzheng Emperor during the 18th century and has been continuously maintained by successive Chinese governments.
The current effective eastern part of the boundary between China and India is the McMahon Line. South of the McMahon Line between China and India, the region popularly known in China as South Tibet, is claimed by People's Republic of China and the Republic of China as part of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is currently administered by India as the majority part of the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Tibet Government in Lhasa altered its position on the McMahon Line in late 1947 when the local Tibetan government wrote a note presented to the newly independent Indian Ministry of External Affairs laying claims to the Tawang (inhabited by mostly ethnic Tibetans) south of the McMahon Line. However, the current Tibet government in exile which was founded in 1959, does not include any area south of the McMahon line in their official claim of the territory of Tibet.  It also accepts the McMahon Line as the official border between southeastern Tibet and India.
Tibetan cultural influences extend to the neighboring states of Bhutan, Nepal, regions of India such as Sikkim, Ladakh, Lahaul, and Spiti, and adjacent provinces of China where Tibetan Buddhism is the predominant religion.
There are over 800 settlements in Tibet, Lhasa is Tibet's traditional capital and the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. Lhasa contains the world heritage site the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, the residences of the Dalai Lama. Lhasa contains a number of significant temples and monasteries which are deeply engrained in its history including Jokhang and Ramoche Temple.
Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet Autonomous Region, west of Lhasa. Gyantse, Chamdo are also amongst the largest.
Other cities in cultural Tibet include, Nagchu, Nyingchi, Nedong, Barkam, Sakya, Gartse, Pelbar, Lhatse, and Tingri; in Sichuan, Kangding (Dartsedo); in Qinghai, Jyekundo or Yushu, Machen, and Golmud. There is also a large Tibetan settlement in South India near Kushalanagara. India created this settlement for Tibetan refugees which had fled to India.
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