Tibet is a region on the Tibetan Plateau in Asia northeast of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpa, Qiang and Lhoba peoples and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han Chinese and Hui people. Tibet is the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft).The Tibetan Empire emerged in the 7th century, but it soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet (Ü-Tsang) was often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments in Lhasa, Shigatse, or nearby locations; these governments were at various times under Mongol and Chinese overlordship. The eastern regions of Kham and Amdo often maintained a more decentralized indigenous political structure, being divided among a number of small principalities and tribal groups, while also often falling more directly under Chinese rule; most of this area was eventually incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai. The current borders of Tibet were generally established in the 18th century.