Known as the Yarlong area since ancient times, the Shannan region is favored greatly by nature. With an average altitude of 3,700m (12,139ft), it is endowed with a hospitably mild climate and a relatively rich amount of rainfall, which, in addition to the wide-spread river valleys, constitutes an ideal environment for such crops as highland barley and buckwheat, thus making the Shannan region the 'granary of Tibet'. More than 40 rivers and 80 lakes, of which Yamdrok Yumtso Lake is the most prestigious, contribute to the considerable water resource of the region, hence an abundance of minerals, plants and wild animals.
However, Shannan owes more fame to its position in Tibet's history. Apart from the legend of the monkey and the Raksasi that used to live on Mt. Gongpori and reputably gave birth to the original inhabitants of Tibet, historical facts verify the significant role that has always been played by this fertile region. Far back to the time when the Tubo Kingdom was merely a tribe of the Yarlong area, the favorable climate and natural advantages enabled an unimaginable growth in its power that led to the eventual unification of Tibet. Later the Yarlong area assumed the position as the economic and political center of Tibet until a new capital was built where Lhasa is presently located. As the 'cradle of Tibetan culture', the Shannan region was where the first king, the first palace, the first chapel, the first monastery and the first Tibetan opera among a variety of other aspects of cultural history came into being . The local arts comprising paintings, sculptures, masks, wood and stone carvings as well as literature all form part of over a thousand years of the Tibetan cultural heritage that is highly reputed throughout the country.
The Shannan region has always been one of the most densely populated areas of Tibet and currently the population number is some 310,000 people, over 97% of whom are Tibetans, the remainder being Han, Hui, Menpa, Luopa, etc. Transportations to its twelve counties and the town of Tsedang, the seat of the Administrative Office of Shannan Prefecture, are well served by a network of highways. Moreover, the Gonggar Airport, the largest airport of Tibet, makes the Shannan region directly accessible from Xian, Beijing, Xining, Kunming and Kathmandu, etc.