Qinghai was named after Qinghai Lake, the largest saltwater lake in China. The population of Qinghai is a mixture of cultures, religions, and ethnicity. Just some of the main groups include the Kazaks, the Mongols, and the Hui. Qinghai has a unique mixture of cultures and religions often unlike the rest of China, and even the world. Qinghai is known for its beautiful scenery. Huge grassy plains and the Green Sea enchant visitors around the world. The world's highest highway runs thorough the Qinghai to Lahsa, making Qinghai a special place to visit in china, since there are plenty of roads.
For centuries Qinghai was part of the Tibetan world. With the exception of the eastern area around the provincial capital Xining, Qinghai was not incorporated into the Chinese Empire until the early 18th century. Since1949 the province has served as a sort of Chinese Siberia where common criminals, as well as political prisoners, have been incarcerated. These prisoners have included former Kuomintang army and police officers, "rightist" arrested during the late 1950s harvesting of the Hundred Flowers, victims of the Cultural Revolution, former Red Guards arrested for their activities during the Cultural Revolution, and supporters of the present regime.
Although a railway line stretching as far as Golmud has helped improve Qinghai's economy, it still remains one of China's poorest provinces. Unemployment is high, and those rural residents that have jobs often earn as little as Y300 per month. Most of the agricultural regions are concentrated in the east around the Xining area, but the surrounding uplands, and the regions west of Qinghai Lake have good pasturelands for sheep, horse and cattle.
Qinghai has picturesque snow-capped mountains and glaciers with many historical relics and legends left over from ancient Tibet, and from the Tang Dynasty. There are several temples in Qinghai and its various religious arts and activities are well known around the world. The different ethic groups make up a wide variety in local customs. British workers from the China Inland Mission of 1889 founded the Christian Church in Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province. In 1958, it was closed and all its pastors were sent to labor camps as rightists. When the church was finally reopened in 1981, there were about 40 believers left in Xining. Today, the city has 6,780 baptized believers. With the help of a Xinining-born again Christians who now reside in Hong Kong, Christians in Xining were able to build a good-sized church in the center of Xining City. There are more than 300 meeting points in Xining, the largest with about 800 believers. Even small meeting points in private houses average at least 100 members.
Xin'ing is the only large city in Qinghai, and is the capital of the province. Today, it is also a stopover for foreigners following the Qinghai to Tibet route. Perched at an elevation of 2275 meters on the Tibetan Plateau, the city itself has nothing exceptional to see, but is a convenient staging post for visiting Ta'er Monastery and Qinghai Lake. Ta'er Temple was built at the birthplace of Tsong-kha-pa, the founder of the Yellow Hats order who denounced worldly interests in other groups. It had 4,000 monks at its peak, but now has only about 600 monks. The Qutan Temple was built during the Ming Dynasty. 'Qutan' or 'Gautama' is the family name of historic Buddha. It belongs to the White Hats branch and is located at Ledu near Xining. It is one of few Ming Temples presently persevered. The White Hats dominated Tibet before the rise of Yellow Hats. Fei-Tien (flying sky), heavenly musicians and dancers analogous to Ghandhavas in Indian mythology. The wall paintings are about 400 square meters in extent. Most of them were created during the Ming Dynasty (15th century), and are about the past lives of Buddha. In addition, the Dongguan Moslem Mosque was also built during the Ming Dynasty. Islam spread in China during the Tang Dynasty. There are many Moslem in Qinghai.