In 2001 it had a population of 47,500. Several famous Buddhist figures were born here, including the Kelzang Gyatso, the 7th Dalai Lama, Tsultrim Gyatso, the 10th Dalai Lama, four of the Pabalas, and has strong connections with the epic hero Gesar of Ling, as well as the 5th Jamyang Xaiba of Labrang.
During the 1950s the region around Litang was one of the main areas of Tibetan armed resistance to the Chinese occupation. A resistance group called "Four Rivers, Six Ranges" was active in the area. In 1956 the monastery in Litang was bombed by the Chinese People's Liberation Army.
Litang Town itself is located at an altitude of 4,014 metres. It is on open grassland and surrounded by snow-capped mountains and is about 400 meters higher than Lhasa, making it one of the highest towns in the world.
In August, 2007, a horse-racing festival at Litang was the scene of an impromptu anti-government political speech by Runggye Adak, which was followed by protests calling for his release. A crackdown officially described as "patriotic education campaign" followed in autumn of 2007, including several politically motivated arrests and attempts to force local Tibetans to denounce the Dalai Lama.