Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, also known as Aba, is an autonomous prefecture of northwestern Sichuan, bordering Gansu to the north and northeast and Qinghai to the northwest. Its seat is in Barkam, and it has an area of 83,201 km2 (32,124 sq mi). The population was 919,987 in late 2013.
During the reign of Tibet’s king Trisong Deutsen in the 8th century, the Gyalrong area was visited by the great translator Vairotsana. In 1410 Je Tsongkhapa’s student Tshakho Ngawang Tapa established the first Tibetan Buddhist Gelug school monastery in the area, called “Gyalrong”.
In contemporary history, most of Ngawa was under the 16th Administrative Prefecture of Szechwan, established by the Republic of China (ROC).
The People’s Republic of China defeated ROC troops in this area and established a Tibetan autonomous prefecture by late 1952. It was renamed Aba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in 1956 and Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in 1987.
On May 12, 2008, a major earthquake occurred in Wenchuan County, a county in the southeastern part of this autonomous prefecture. 20,258 people were killed, 45,079 injured, 7,696 missing in the prefecture as of June 6, 2008.