Lhasa: Urbanising China in the frontier regions

Tingting Chen, Wei Lang, Hon Wan Edwin Chan, Conrad H. Philipp

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


The city of Lhasa has experienced urban transformation in recent decades. Accordingly, this paper aims to discover and characterise the urbanisation process of Lhasa, which is the first large, high-altitude city in China to be urbanised. Until 1995, Lhasa mainly served as a regional capital in China with political and administrative functions. Since 2005, the rapid economic development of Lhasa has become a key driver of its urban expansion due to the presence of market mechanisms and the continuous inflow of visitors. After the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet Railway in 2006, the development of urban infrastructures in Lhasa has facilitated the development of the city as well as promoted the health and well-being of its citizens. However, these advancements were accompanied by changes in land use. The land use/cover change reveals the large floating population in Lhasa and underscores the role of high population growth in the economic prosperity of the former agricultural and pastoral areas in the city. The increased amount of air and water pollution, the reduction in the size of agriculture land and the changes in the environment intensify the contradictions between urbanisation and sustainability in a nature-sensitive region such as Lhasa. The paper also proposes some strategies, planning practices and implication on the land use and urban development in the frontier regions of West China cities.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2017


  • China Western Development Program
  • Frontier region
  • Land-use/cover change
  • Lhasa
  • Urbanisation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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