World’s Newest and Highest National Park

While our class normally deals with parks and landscapes within the US, let’s not forget that other countries also have designated national parks. China recently unveiled the name of their newest national park, one that sets a new record for having the highest point of any national park in the world. The park covers a total land area of 78,000 square kilometers (roughly 49,000 miles) and is Tibet’s third national park. The deputy chief of the region’s tourism bureau, Sun Yongping, says that the “national park will be focused on the protection of the ecology and biodiversity and prevention of illegal resource exploitation or land use,” essentially the same goals established by American national parks. This is the third national park in three years to have been opened in the region of China known as Tibet, a relatively autonomous region of the country. Along with the newly unveiled park, these three parks consist of Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon National Park and Namtso National Park. The three parks that have been opened in Tibet are China’s way of trying to turn Tibet into a more visitor friendly area.

Ever since 1982, China has been creating national parks in batches, for both conservation and as an attempt to attract tourism. To date, China has 208 national parks within its borders. Many of their parks are divided into zones called “scenic zones,” which often extends the boundary of the national park with areas where tourism is highly encouraged.

Back to the name of the park that China unveiled… 

It’s the Qomolangma National Park. Qomolangma is the real name of what we call “Mount Everest.”

Mt Everest

Yep, that’s right, the new national park covers an area of five large, 8,000+ meter mountain peaks, including that of Mount Everest, known in Chinese as Qomolangma. Qomolangma means “Holy Mother” in Chinese, and is one of a few local names for the mountain. At 8,848 meters high, it’s the highest mountain in the new national park, and the highest mountain in the world.

As well as the mountain ranges and the attraction that is Mount Everest, the national park contains other natural entertainment for guests. Among these include glaciers, hot springs and hike-able alpine forests. Maintaining such a park won’t be free, however, and guests must pay to enter the park. It’s much cheaper to enter on foot than to drive in a vehicle, however (180 RMB for a person, 400 for a small vehicle; RMB is the Chinese currency “yuan”), and walking into the park is probably encouraged.

It’s good to know that such a valuable part of the world is now designated as a national park, and as such will be given care in its preservation. However, now that this area is a park, it might attract many more visitors, and thus potentially suffer deterioration of its natural state due to the influx of tourism into the area. Might the making of national parks be a double edged sword? We’ll have to watch and see what happens in Tibet’s future, as more and more of its wilderness is turned into tourism-fueled national parks.

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