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Accelerated Urban Expansion in Lhasa City and the Implications for Sustainable Development in a Plateau City

Key Laboratory of Mountain Surface Processes and Ecological Regulation, Institute of Mountain Hazard and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu 640016, China
Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
College of Earth Sciences, Chengdu University of Technology, Chengdu 610059, China
Land and Resources College, China West Normal University, Nanchong 637009, China
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1499;
Received: 24 July 2017 / Revised: 16 August 2017 / Accepted: 21 August 2017 / Published: 23 August 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Smart Cities and Smart Villages Research)
PDF [14004 KB, uploaded 23 August 2017]


Urbanization challenges regional sustainable development, but a slight expansion mechanism was revealed in a plateau city. We have integrated the urban expansion process and analyzed its determinants in Lhasa (Tibet), and we provide insightful suggestions for urban management and planning for Lhasa. The full continuum of the urban expansion process has been captured using time-series of high-resolution remote sensing data (1990–2015). Four categories of potential determinants involved in economic, demographic, social, and government policy factors were selected, and redundancy analysis was employed to define the contribution rates of these determinants. The results illustrate that considerable urban expansion occurred from 1990 to 2015 in Lhasa, with the area of construction land and transportation land increasing at rates of 117.2% and 564.7%, respectively. The urban expansion in the center of Lhasa can be characterized as temperate sprawl from 1990 through 2008, primarily explained by governmental policies and investment, economic development, tourist growth, and increased governmental investment resulting in faster urban expansion from 2008 to 2015, mainly occurring in the east, south, and west of Lhasa. In contrast with other cities of China, central government investment and “pairing-up support” projects have played an important role in infrastructure construction in Lhasa. The miraculous development of the tourism industry had prominent effects on this economic development and urbanization after 2006, due to the running of the Tibetan Railway. An integrative and proactive policy framework, the “Lhasa development model”, having important theoretical, methodological, and management implications for urban planning and development, has been proposed. View Full-Text
Keywords: Lhasa; urban expansion; determinants; plateau city; policy framework Lhasa; urban expansion; determinants; plateau city; policy framework

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Tang, W.; Zhou, T.; Sun, J.; Li, Y.; Li, W. Accelerated Urban Expansion in Lhasa City and the Implications for Sustainable Development in a Plateau City. Sustainability 2017, 9, 1499.

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