The Changtang is a part of the high altitude Tibetan Plateau in western and northern Tibet extending into southeastern Ladakh, India, with vast highlands and giant lakes. From eastern Ladakh, the Changtang stretches approximately 1,600 kilometres (990 mi) east into Tibet as far as modern Qinghai. The Changtang is home to the Changpa, a nomadic Tibetan people.
The climate of Changtang is harsh and unpredictable. The summers are warm but short and thunderstorms can occur at any time of year, often with hail. The winters are cold and Arctic-like, despite the latitude, due to the high elevation.
The economy of the region is based around the livestock of the Changpa, and the most important resource are the plants, the animals graze on. These animals have a serious impact on the grazing lands, the grasses of which are dead for eight to nine months of the year, and provide poor fodder during that time.