Lhasa Valley. South-Western Tibet 2011© Nora de Angelli / www.noraphotos.com
The valley in which Lhasa is situated is formed by the river Kyichu, the Kyi River (or Kyi Chu), a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River (which is known as the Brahmaputra in India). The dominant peaks surrounding Lhasa range between 4400m and 5300m above sea level, while the city itself is built on a plain of marshy grounds, dominated by the three hills, Marpori ("red mountain"), Chakpori ("iron mountain") and Barmari ("rabbit mountain"). The Lhasa valley is sheltered from the harsh winds that roam much of the Tibetan plateau, and the city benefits from a micro-climate that can be termed moderate. Located at the bottom of a small basin surrounded by the Himalaya Mountains, Lhasa has an elevation of about 3,600 m (11,800 ft) and lies in the centre of the Tibetan Plateau with the surrounding mountains rising to 5,500 m (18,000 ft). The air only contains 68% of the oxygen compared to sea level.