Shangri-La (香格里拉市) is a county-level city in northwestern Yunnan province, People’s Republic of China and is the location of the seat of the Dêqên Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. In the second half of the 20th century Shangri-La was called Zhongdian (中甸) but was renamed on 17 December 2001 as Shangri-La (other spellings: Semkyi’nyida, Xianggelila, or Xamgyi’nyilha) after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the 1933 James Hilton novel Lost Horizon, in an effort to promote tourism in the area. The original Tibetan population previously referred to this place by its traditional name Gyalthang or Gyaitang, meaning “Royal plains”. This ancient name is reflected in the Tibetan Pinyin name of the town of Jiantang (建塘; Jiàntáng), the county seat.
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