Lhasa (Tibetan: ལྷ་ས་, Lha Sa) is the capital and largest city of Tibet. It is the second most populous city on the Tibetan Plateau after Hsining in the People's Republic of China and, at an altitude of 11,450 feet (3,490 meters), Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world. The city contains many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang temple and Norbulingka palaces.
Lhasa has an elevation of about 11,800 feet (3,597 meters) and lies in the center of the Tibetan Plateau with the surrounding mountains rising to 18,000 feet (5,486.4 meters). The air only contains 68 percent of the oxygen compared to sea level. The Lhasa River, also Kyi River or Kyi Chu, a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River (Brahmaputra River), runs through the southern part of the city. This river, known to local Tibetans as the "merry blue waves", flows through the snow-covered peaks and gullies of the Nyainqêntanglha mountains, extending 196 miles (315.43 kilometers), and emptying into the Yarlung Zangbo River at Qüxü, forms an area of great scenic beauty. The marshlands, mostly uninhabited, are to the north. Ingress and egress roads run east and west, while to the north, the road infrastructure is less developed.
Due to its very high elevation, Lhasa has a cool semi-arid climate (Köppen: BSk) with frosty winters and mild summers, yet the valley location protects the city from intense cold or heat and strong winds. Monthly possible sunshine ranges from 53 percent in July to 84 percent in November, and the city receives nearly 3,000 hours of sunlight annually. It is thus sometimes called the "sunlit city" by Tibetans. The coldest month is January with an average temperature of −0.3 °C (31.5 °F) and the warmest month is June with a daily average of 16.5 °C (61.7 °F), though nights have generally been warmer in July. The annual mean temperature is 8.79 °C (47.8 °F), with extreme temperatures ranging from −16.5 to 30.4 °C (2 to 87 °F). Lhasa has an annual precipitation of 456 millimetres (18.0 in) with rain falling mainly in July, August and September. The driest month is December at 0.3 millimetres (0.01 in) and the wettest month is August, at 133.5 millimetres (5.26 in). The rainy season is widely regarded the "best" of the year as rains come mostly at night and Lhasa is still sunny during the daytime.