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Hoh Xil is an isolated region in the northwestern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. It is China's least and the world's third-least populated area.
The region covers 83,000 square kilometres at an average elevation of 4,800 meters, between the Tanggula and Kunlun mountain chains in the border areas of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, northwest China's Qinghai Province and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
It is one of the major headwater sources of the Yangtze River. 45,000 square kilometres, at an average elevation of 4,600 metres, were made into a national nature reserve in 1995. The Qingzang railway runs along the eastern boundary of the reserve.
Despite the harsh climate, Hoh Xil is home to more than 230 species of wild animals, 20 of which are under state protection, including the wild yak, wild donkey, white-lip deer, brown bear and the endangered Tibetan antelope or chiru.