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Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (simplified Chinese: 玉树藏族自治州) is an autonomous prefecture in Qinghai, China. Largely inhabited by Tibetans, the prefecture has an area of 188,794 km² and its capital is Gyêgu township (Gyêgu Zhen) in Yushu county, which is the place of the old Tibetan trade mart of Jyekundo (Gyêgu). The official source of the Yellow River lies within the prefecture. Historically, the area belongs to the cultural realm of Kham in eastern Tibet.

Yushu Prefecture occupies most of the southwestern third of Qinghai, with the exception of the province’s extreme southwestern corner (Tanggulashan Town), which is an exclave of the Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Almost all of the prefecture is located in the uppermost part of the basins of three of Asia’s great rivers – the Yellow River, the Yangtze, and the Mekong, although in the remote areas of the far west of the prefecture, and along its northern borders, there are some endorheic basins as well. A significant portion of the prefecture’s territory is incorporated into the Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve, intended to protect the headwaters of the three great rivers.

Most of the prefecture’s population lives in its southeastern part: primarily in the valley of the upper Yangtze (whose section within the prefecture is known in Chinese as the Tongtian River), and some also in the valley of the Mekong (the Zaqu (扎曲) River). The highlands away from these two rivers, as well as the western part of the prefecture, have very little population.


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