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Tibet

Tibet

Overview
Tibet is a plateau region
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people
Tibetan people
The Tibetan people are an ethnic group that is native to Tibet, which is mostly in the People's Republic of China. They number 5.4 million and are the 10th largest ethnic group in the country. Significant Tibetan minorities also live in India, Nepal, and Bhutan...

 as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhoba
Lhoba
Lhoba is a term of obscure origin which has come to apply to a diverse amalgamation of Tibeto-Burman tribespeople living in and around "Pemako" , including Mainling, Medog, Zayü counties of Nyingchi Prefecture and Lhünzê County of Shannan Prefecture...

s, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 and Hui people
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

. Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 4900 metres (16,076.1 ft).

Tibet emerged in the 7th century as a unified empire
Tibetan Empire
The historic name for the Tibetan Empire is different from Tibet's present name.Traditional Tibetan history preserves a lengthy list of rulers, whose exploits become subject to external verification in the Chinese histories by the seventh century. From the 7th to the 11th century a series of...

, but it soon divided into a variety of territories.
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Timeline

764   Tibetan troops occupy Chang'an, the capital of the Chinese Tang Dynasty, for fifteen days.

1950   Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, is enthroned as the leader of Tibet at the age of fifteen.

1951   Tibetan delegates to the Central People's Government arrive in Beijing and draft a Seventeen Point Agreement for Chinese sovereignty and Tibetan autonomy.

1951   Tibetans sign the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet with the People's Republic of China.

1959   Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, flees Tibet for India.

 
Encyclopedia
Tibet is a plateau region
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

 in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people
Tibetan people
The Tibetan people are an ethnic group that is native to Tibet, which is mostly in the People's Republic of China. They number 5.4 million and are the 10th largest ethnic group in the country. Significant Tibetan minorities also live in India, Nepal, and Bhutan...

 as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhoba
Lhoba
Lhoba is a term of obscure origin which has come to apply to a diverse amalgamation of Tibeto-Burman tribespeople living in and around "Pemako" , including Mainling, Medog, Zayü counties of Nyingchi Prefecture and Lhünzê County of Shannan Prefecture...

s, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

 and Hui people
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

. Tibet is the highest region on earth, with an average elevation of 4900 metres (16,076.1 ft).
  Tibet Autonomous Region
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

 within the People's Republic of China
  "Greater Tibet"; Tibet as claimed by Tibetan exile groups
  Tibetan areas as designated by the People's Republic of China
  Chinese-controlled areas claimed by India as part of Aksai Chin
Aksai Chin
Aksai Chin is one of the two main disputed border areas between China and India, and the other is South Tibet, which comprises most of India's Arunachal Pradesh. It is administered by China as part of Hotan County in the Hotan Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, but is also claimed by India...

  Indian-controlled areas claimed by the People's Republic of China as part of Tibet
  Other areas historically within Tibetan cultural sphere

Tibet emerged in the 7th century as a unified empire
Tibetan Empire
The historic name for the Tibetan Empire is different from Tibet's present name.Traditional Tibetan history preserves a lengthy list of rulers, whose exploits become subject to external verification in the Chinese histories by the seventh century. From the 7th to the 11th century a series of...

, but it soon divided into a variety of territories. The bulk of western and central Tibet were often at least nominally unified under a series of Tibetan governments in Lhasa
Lhasa
Lhasa is the administrative capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China and the second most populous city on the Tibetan Plateau, after Xining. At an altitude of , Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world...

, Shigatse
Shigatse
Shigatse is a county-level city and the second largest city in Tibet Autonomous Region , People's Republic of China, with a population of 92000, about southwest of Lhasa and northwest of Gyantse...

, or nearby locations; these governments were at various times under Mongol and Chinese overlordship. The eastern regions of Kham
Kham
Kham , is a historical region covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan province, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China , most of the region was...

 and Amdo
Amdo
Amdo is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet, the other two being Ü-Tsang and Kham; it is also the birth place of the 14th Dalai Lama. Amdo encompasses a large area from the Machu River to the Drichu river . While culturally and ethnically a Tibetan area, Amdo has been administered by a...

 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
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 and Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

. In 1951, following a military conflict, Tibet was incorporated into the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and the previous Tibetan government was abolished in 1959. Today, the PRC governs western and central Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

 while eastern areas are mostly within Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 and Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

 provinces. There are tensions regarding Tibet's political status and dissident groups are active in exile.

The economy of Tibet is dominated by subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

, though tourism has become a growing industry in Tibet in recent decades.
The dominant religion in Tibet is Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, in addition there is Bön which was the indigenous religion of Tibet before the arrival of Buddhism in the 7th century CE (Bön is now similar to Tibetan Buddhism ) though there are also Muslim
Tibetan Muslims
The Tibetan Muslims, also known as the Kachee , form a small minority in Tibet. Despite being Muslim, they are classified as Tibetans, unlike the Hui Muslims, who are also known as the Kyangsha or Gya Kachee...

 and Christian minorities. Tibetan Buddhism is a primary influence on the art
Tibetan art
Tibetan art refers to the art of Tibet. For more than a thousand years, Tibetan artists have played a key role in the cultural life of Tibet. From designs for painted furniture to elaborate murals in religious buildings, their efforts have permeated virtually every facet of life on the Tibetan...

, music, and festivals
Tibetan Festivals
In Tibet, the Tibetan calendar lags approximately four to six weeks behind the solar calendar. For example the Tibetan First Month usually falls in February, the Fifth Month June or early July and the Eight Month in September.-Losar:...

 of the region. Tibetan architecture reflects Chinese
Chinese architecture
Chinese architecture refers to a style of architecture that has taken shape in East Asia over many centuries. The structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being only the decorative details...

 and Indian influences. Staple foods in Tibet are roasted barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, yak
Yak
The yak, Bos grunniens or Bos mutus, is a long-haired bovine found throughout the Himalayan region of south Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. In addition to a large domestic population, there is a small, vulnerable wild yak population...

 meat, and butter tea
Butter tea
Butter tea, also known as po cha , cha süma , Mandarin Chinese: sūyóu chá or goor goor in local Ladakhi terms, is a drink of the Tibetans and Chinese minorities in southwestern China. It is also consumed in Bhutan. It is made from tea leaves, yak butter, and salt.-Usage:Drinking butter tea is a...

.

Names



The names and definitions of "Tibet" constitute linguistically and politically loaded language
Loaded language
In rhetoric, loaded language is wording that attempts to influence the certain audience by using to emotion....

.

The Tibetan
Standard Tibetan
Standard Tibetan is the most widely used spoken form of the Tibetan languages. It is based on the speech of Lhasa, an Ü-Tsang dialect belonging to the Central Tibetan languages. For this reason, Standard Tibetan is often called Central Tibetan...

 name for their land, Bod , means "Tibet" or "Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

", although it originally meant the central region around Lhasa
Lhasa
Lhasa is the administrative capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China and the second most populous city on the Tibetan Plateau, after Xining. At an altitude of , Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world...

, now known in Tibetan as Ü
Ü (region)
Ü is a geographic division and a historical region in Tibet. Together with Tsang , it forms Central Tibet Ü-Tsang , which is one of the three Tibetan regions or cholka . The other two cholka are Kham and Amdo...

. The Standard Tibetan
Standard Tibetan
Standard Tibetan is the most widely used spoken form of the Tibetan languages. It is based on the speech of Lhasa, an Ü-Tsang dialect belonging to the Central Tibetan languages. For this reason, Standard Tibetan is often called Central Tibetan...

 pronunciation of Bod, pʰøʔ˨˧˨, is transcribed Bhö in Tournadre Phonetic Transcription, Bö in the THDL system, and Poi in Tibetan Pinyin
Tibetan Pinyin
The SASM/GNC/SRC romanization of Tibetan, commonly known as Tibetan pinyin, is the official transcription system for the Tibetan language in the People's Republic of China for personal name and place names. It is based on the Lhasa dialect of Standard Tibetan and reflects the pronunciation very...

. Some scholars believe the first written reference to Bod "Tibet" was the ancient "Bautai" people recorded in the (ca. 1st century) Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
Periplus of the Erythraean Sea
The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea or Periplus of the Red Sea is a Greco-Roman periplus, written in Greek, describing navigation and trading opportunities from Roman Egyptian ports like Berenice along the coast of the Red Sea, and others along Northeast Africa and India...

 and (ca. 2nd century) Geographia.

The modern Mandarin exonym for "Tibet" is Xīzàng (西藏), which derives by metonymy
Metonymy
Metonymy is a figure of speech used in rhetoric in which a thing or concept is not called by its own name, but by the name of something intimately associated with that thing or concept...

 from the Tsang
Ü-Tsang
Ü-Tsang , or Tsang-Ü, is one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the other two being Amdo and Kham. Geographically Ü-Tsang covered the central and western portions of the Tibetan cultural area, including the Tsang-po watershed, the western districts surrounding and extending past Mount...

 region around Shigatse
Shigatse
Shigatse is a county-level city and the second largest city in Tibet Autonomous Region , People's Republic of China, with a population of 92000, about southwest of Lhasa and northwest of Gyantse...

, plus a prefix meaning "western". Tibetan people, language, and culture regardless of where they are from are referred to as Zàng (藏), although the geographical term Xīzàng is often limited to the Tibet Autonomous Region
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

. The term Xīzàng was coined during the Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 in the reign of the Jiaqing Emperor
Jiaqing Emperor
The Jiaqing Emperor was the seventh emperor of the Manchu-led Qing dynasty, and the fifth Qing emperor to rule over China, from 1796 to 1820....

 (1796–1820).

The best-known medieval Chinese name for Tibet is 吐蕃 (also 土蕃 or 土番); in modern Mandarin, this is pronounced Tǔfān or Tǔbō. Whether Tǔbō is a valid pronunciation is the subject of debate, enjoying strong support in Mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

, but with some experts arguing that it is promoted purely for political reasons.
. This name first appears in Chinese characters
Transliteration into Chinese characters
In Chinese, transcription is known as yīnyì or yìmíng . While it is common to see foreign names left in their original forms in a Chinese text, it is also common to transcribe foreign proper nouns into Chinese characters....

 as 土番 in the 7th-century (Li Tai) and as 吐蕃 in the 10th-century (Book of Tang
Book of Tang
The Book of Tang , Jiu Tangshu or the Old Book of Tang is the first classic work about the Tang Dynasty. The book began when Gaozu of Later Jin ordered its commencement in 941...

 describing 608–609 emissaries from Tibetan King Namri Songtsen
Namri Songtsen
Namri Songtsen , also known as "Namri Löntsen" was, according to tradition, the 32nd King of Tibet , despite the fact he formerly ruled only the Yarlung valley, and later the central part of the Tibetan plateau...

 to Emperor Yang of Sui
Emperor Yang of Sui
Emperor Yang of Sui , personal name Yang Guang , alternative name Ying , nickname Amo , known as Emperor Ming during the brief reign of his grandson Yang Tong), was the second son of Emperor Wen of Sui, and the second emperor of China's Sui Dynasty.Emperor Yang's original name was Yang Ying, but...

). In the Middle Chinese
Middle Chinese
Middle Chinese , also called Ancient Chinese by the linguist Bernhard Karlgren, refers to the Chinese language spoken during Southern and Northern Dynasties and the Sui, Tang, and Song dynasties...

 spoken during that period, as reconstructed by William H. Baxter
William H. Baxter
William H. Baxter is a professor in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures and the Department of Linguistics at the University of Michigan. His specialty is the historical study of the Chinese language. He earned his Ph.D...

, 土番 was pronounced thu-phjon and 吐蕃 was pronounced thu-pjon (with the representing tone).

Other pre-modern Chinese names for Tibet include 烏斯國 (wūsīguó, cf. Tibetan dbus, Ü
Ü (region)
Ü is a geographic division and a historical region in Tibet. Together with Tsang , it forms Central Tibet Ü-Tsang , which is one of the three Tibetan regions or cholka . The other two cholka are Kham and Amdo...

, wyʔ˨˧˨), 烏斯藏 (wūsīzàng, cf. Tibetan dbus-gtsang, Ü-Tsang
Ü-Tsang
Ü-Tsang , or Tsang-Ü, is one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the other two being Amdo and Kham. Geographically Ü-Tsang covered the central and western portions of the Tibetan cultural area, including the Tsang-po watershed, the western districts surrounding and extending past Mount...

), 圖伯特 (túbótè), and 唐古忒 (tánggǔtè, cf. Tangut). American Tibetologist Elliot Sperling
Elliot Sperling
Elliot Sperling is Associate Professor of Central Eurasian Studies and an expert on the history of Tibet and Tibetan-Chinese relations at Indiana University.He earned his B.A. at Queens College , and his Ph.D...

 has argued in favor of a recent tendency by some authors writing in Chinese to revive the term Túbótè for modern use in place of Xīzàng, on the grounds that Túbótè more clearly includes the entire Tibetan plateau rather than simply the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The English word Tibet or Thibet dates back to the 18th century. While historical linguists
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

 generally agree that "Tibet" names in European languages are loanwords from Arabic
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 طيبة، توبات (Ṭībat or Tūbātt), itself deriving from Turkic
Turkic languages
The Turkic languages constitute a language family of at least thirty five languages, spoken by Turkic peoples across a vast area from Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean to Siberia and Western China, and are considered to be part of the proposed Altaic language family.Turkic languages are spoken...

 Töbäd "The Heights" (plural of töbän),.

Language


Linguists generally classify the Tibetan language
Standard Tibetan
Standard Tibetan is the most widely used spoken form of the Tibetan languages. It is based on the speech of Lhasa, an Ü-Tsang dialect belonging to the Central Tibetan languages. For this reason, Standard Tibetan is often called Central Tibetan...

 as a Tibeto-Burman language of the Sino-Tibetan language family although the boundaries between 'Tibetan' and certain other Himalayan languages can be unclear. According to Matthew Kapstein
Matthew Kapstein
Matthew Kapstein is a scholar of Tibetan religions and Buddhism at the University of Chicago Divinity School. One of his study areas has concentrated on Tibetan culture and the influence of China's invasion.- Works :...

:

From the perspective of historical linguistics, Tibetan most closely resembles Burmese
Burmese language
The Burmese language is the official language of Burma. Although the constitution officially recognizes it as the Myanmar language, most English speakers continue to refer to the language as Burmese. Burmese is the native language of the Bamar and related sub-ethnic groups of the Bamar, as well as...

 among the major languages of Asia. Grouping these two together with other apparently related languages spoken in the Himalayan lands, as well as in the highlands of Southeast Asia and the Sino-Tibetan frontier regions, linguists have generally concluded that there exists a Tibeto-Burman family of languages. More controversial is the theory that the Tibeto-Burman family is itself part of a larger language family, called Sino-Tibetan, and that through it Tibetan and Burmese are distant cousins of Chinese.


The language is spoken in numerous regional dialects which generally cannot be understood by the speakers of the different oral forms of Tibetan. It is employed throughout the Tibetan plateau and Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

 and is also spoken in parts of Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

 and northern India, such as Sikkim
Sikkim
Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayan mountains...

. In general, the dialects of central Tibet (including Lhasa), Kham
Kham
Kham , is a historical region covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan province, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China , most of the region was...

, Amdo
Amdo
Amdo is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet, the other two being Ü-Tsang and Kham; it is also the birth place of the 14th Dalai Lama. Amdo encompasses a large area from the Machu River to the Drichu river . While culturally and ethnically a Tibetan area, Amdo has been administered by a...

 and some smaller nearby areas are considered Tibetan dialects. Other forms, particularly Dzongkha, Sikkimese
Sikkimese language
The Sikkimese language, also called Sikkimese Tibetan, Bhutia, Dranjongke , Dranjoke, Denjongka, Denzongpeke, and Denzongke, belongs to the Southern Tibetan language family. It is spoken by the Bhutia nationality in Sikkim...

, Sherpa
Sherpa language
Sherpa is a language spoken in parts of Nepal and Sikkim mainly by the Sherpa community. About 130,000 speakers live in Nepal , some 20,000 in India , and some 800 in Tibet ....

, and Ladakhi
Ladakhi language
The Ladakhi language , now also called Bhoti, and by linguists more generally called Western Archaic Tibetan when the Balti and Burig or Purig or Purki dialects are included, is the predominant language in the Ladakh region of the Jammu and Kashmir state of India, and is also spoken in Baltistan...

, are considered by their speakers, largely for political reasons, to be separate languages. However, if the latter group of Tibetan-type languages are included in the calculation then 'greater Tibetan' is spoken by approximately 6 million people across the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

. Tibetan is also spoken by approximately 150,000 exile speakers who have fled from modern-day Tibet to India and other countries.

Although spoken Tibetan varies according to the region, the written language, based on Classical Tibetan
Classical Tibetan
Classical Tibetan refers to the language of any text written in Tibetan after the Old Tibetan period and before the modern period, but in particular refers to the language of early canonical texts translated from other languages, especially Sanskrit...

, is consistent throughout. This is probably due to the long-standing influence of the Tibetan empire, whose rule embraced (and extended at times far beyond) the present Tibetan linguistic area, which runs from northern Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 in the west to Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 and Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

 in the east, and from north of Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake , is a saline lake situated in the province of Qinghai, and is the largest lake in China. The names Qinghai and Kokonor both mean "Blue/Teal Sea/Lake" in Chinese and Mongolian. It is located about west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205 m above sea level in a depression...

 south as far as Bhutan. The Tibetan language has its own script
Tibetan script
The Tibetan alphabet is an abugida of Indic origin used to write the Tibetan language as well as the Dzongkha language, Denzongkha, Ladakhi language and sometimes the Balti language. The printed form of the alphabet is called uchen script while the hand-written cursive form used in everyday...

 which it shares with Ladakhi
Ladakhi language
The Ladakhi language , now also called Bhoti, and by linguists more generally called Western Archaic Tibetan when the Balti and Burig or Purig or Purki dialects are included, is the predominant language in the Ladakh region of the Jammu and Kashmir state of India, and is also spoken in Baltistan...

 and Dzongkha
Dzongkha language
Dzongkha , occasionally Ngalopkha, is the national language of Bhutan. The word "dzongkha" means the language spoken in the dzong, – dzong being the fortress-like monasteries established throughout Bhutan by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in the 17th century."Bhutani" is not another name for...

, and which is derived from the ancient Indian Brāhmī
Brāhmī script
Brāhmī is the modern name given to the oldest members of the Brahmic family of scripts. The best-known Brāhmī inscriptions are the rock-cut edicts of Ashoka in north-central India, dated to the 3rd century BCE. These are traditionally considered to be early known examples of Brāhmī writing...

 script.

History


Humans inhabited the Tibetan Plateau at least 21,000 years ago. This population was largely replaced around 3,000 BP
Before Present
Before Present years is a time scale used in archaeology, geology, and other scientific disciplines to specify when events in the past occurred. Because the "present" time changes, standard practice is to use AD 1950 as the origin of the age scale, reflecting the fact that radiocarbon...

 by Neolithic
Neolithic
The Neolithic Age, Era, or Period, or New Stone Age, was a period in the development of human technology, beginning about 9500 BC in some parts of the Middle East, and later in other parts of the world. It is traditionally considered as the last part of the Stone Age...

 immigrants from northern China. However there is a "partial genetic continuity between the Paleolithic inhabitants and the contemporary Tibetan populations".

The earliest Tibetan historical texts identify the Zhang Zhung culture
Zhang Zhung culture
Zhang Zhung, Shang Shung, or Tibetan Pinyin Xang Xung, was an ancient culture and kingdom of western and northwestern Tibet, which pre-dates the culture of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. Zhang Zhung culture is associated with the Bon religion, which in turn, has influenced the philosophies and...

 as a people who migrated from the Amdo
Amdo
Amdo is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet, the other two being Ü-Tsang and Kham; it is also the birth place of the 14th Dalai Lama. Amdo encompasses a large area from the Machu River to the Drichu river . While culturally and ethnically a Tibetan area, Amdo has been administered by a...

 region into what is now the region of Guge
Guge
Guge was an ancient kingdom in Western Tibet. The kingdom was centered in present-day Zanda County, within Ngari Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region, China. At various points in history after 10th century AD, the kingdom held sway over a vast area including south-eastern Zanskar, Upper Kinnaur,...

 in western Tibet. Zhang Zhung is considered to be the original home of the Bön religion. By the 1st century BCE, a neighboring kingdom arose in the Yarlung valley
Yarlung Valley
The Yarlung Valley is formed by the Yarlung River and refers especially to the district where it joins with the Chongye River, and broadens out into a large plain about 2 km wide, before they flow north into the Yarlung Zangbo River or Brahmaputra. It is situated in Nedong County of Lhokha...

, and the Yarlung king, Drigum Tsenpo
Drigum Tsenpo
Drigum Tsenpo was an emperor of Tibet. According to Tibetan mythology, he was the first king of Tibet to lose his immortality when he angered his stable master, Lo-ngam. Legend states that rulers of Tibet descended from heaven to earth on a cord, and that they were pulled back up when their time...

, attempted to remove the influence of the Zhang Zhung by expelling the Zhang's Bön priests from Yarlung. He was assassinated and Zhang Zhung continued its dominance of the region until it was annexed by Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century.

Prior to Songtsän Gampo, the kings of Tibet were more mythological than factual, and there is insufficient evidence of their existence.

Tibetan Empire



The history of a unified Tibet begins with the rule of Songtsän Gampo (604–650 CE) who united parts of the Yarlung River Valley and founded the Tibetan Empire
Tibetan Empire
The historic name for the Tibetan Empire is different from Tibet's present name.Traditional Tibetan history preserves a lengthy list of rulers, whose exploits become subject to external verification in the Chinese histories by the seventh century. From the 7th to the 11th century a series of...

. He also brought in many reforms and Tibetan power spread rapidly creating a large and powerful empire. It is traditionally considered that his first wife was the Princess of Nepal, Bhrikuti
Bhrikuti
The Nepali Princess Bhrikuti Devi, known to Tibetans as Bal-mo-bza' Khri-btsun, Bhelsa Tritsun or, simply, Khri bTsun , is traditionally considered to have been the first wife of the earliest emperor of Tibet, Songtsän Gampo , and an incarnation of Tara...

, and that she played a great role in establishment of Buddhism in Tibet. In 640 he married Princess Wencheng
Princess Wencheng
Princess Wencheng was a niece of the powerful Emperor Taizong of China's Tang Dynasty, who left China in 640, according to records, arriving the next year in Tibet to marry the thirty-seven year old Songtsän Gampo the thirty-third king of the Yarlung Dynasty of Tibet, in a marriage of...

, the niece of the powerful Chinese emperor Taizong of Tang China.

Under the next few Tibetan kings, Buddhism became established as the state religion and Tibetan power increased even further over large areas of Central Asia, while major inroads were made into Chinese territory, even reaching the Tang
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

's capital Chang'an
Chang'an
Chang'an is an ancient capital of more than ten dynasties in Chinese history, today known as Xi'an. Chang'an literally means "Perpetual Peace" in Classical Chinese. During the short-lived Xin Dynasty, the city was renamed "Constant Peace" ; yet after its fall in AD 23, the old name was restored...

 (modern Xi'an
Xi'an
Xi'an is the capital of the Shaanxi province, and a sub-provincial city in the People's Republic of China. One of the oldest cities in China, with more than 3,100 years of history, the city was known as Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty...

) in late 763. However, the Tibetan occupation of Chang'an only lasted for fifteen days, after which they were defeated by Tang and its ally, the Turkic Uyghur Khaganate.

The Kingdom of Nanzhao (in Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

 and neighbouring regions) remained under Tibetan control from 750 to 794, when they turned on their Tibetan overlords and helped the Chinese inflict a serious defeat on the Tibetans.

In 747, the hold of Tibet was loosened by the campaign of general Gao Xianzhi
Gao Xianzhi
Gao Xianzhi, or Ko Sōnji, was a Tang general of Korean descent. He was known as a great commander during his lifetime. He is most well known for taking part in multiple military expeditions to conquer the Xiyu region over the infamous Pamir Mountains, all the way to the Aral Sea and the Caspian...

, who tried to re-open the direct communications between Central Asia and Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

. By 750 the Tibetans had lost almost all of their central Asian possessions to the Chinese
Tang Dynasty
The Tang Dynasty was an imperial dynasty of China preceded by the Sui Dynasty and followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was founded by the Li family, who seized power during the decline and collapse of the Sui Empire...

. However, after Gao Xianzhi's defeat by the Arabs and Qarluqs at the Battle of Talas
Battle of Talas
The Battle of Talas in 751 AD was an especially notable conflict between the Arab Abbasid Caliphate and the Chinese Tang Dynasty for control not only of the Syr Darya region, but even more...

 (751), Chinese influence decreased rapidly and Tibetan influence resumed.
In 821/822 CE Tibet and China signed a peace treaty. A bilingual account of this treaty, including details of the borders between the two countries, is inscribed on a stone pillar which stands outside the Jokhang
Jokhang
The Jokhang, , also called the Qokang Monastery, Jokang, Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery or Zuglagkang , is located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It is in some regards pan-sectarian, but is presently controlled by the Gelug school...

 temple in Lhasa. Tibet continued as a Central Asian empire until the mid-9th century.

Yuan Dynasty


The Mongolian Yuan Dynasty
Yuan Dynasty
The Yuan Dynasty , or Great Yuan Empire was a ruling dynasty founded by the Mongol leader Kublai Khan, who ruled most of present-day China, all of modern Mongolia and its surrounding areas, lasting officially from 1271 to 1368. It is considered both as a division of the Mongol Empire and as an...

, through the Bureau of Buddhist and Tibetan Affairs, or Xuanzheng Yuan , ruled Tibet through a top-level administrative department. One of the department's purposes was to select a dpon-chen, usually appointed by the lama and confirmed by the Mongol emperor in Beijing. The Sakya
Sakya
The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

 lama retained a degree of autonomy, acting as the political authority of the region, while the dpon-chen held administrative and military power. Mongol rule of Tibet remained separate from the main provinces of China, but the region existed under the administration of the Yuan Dynasty. If the Sakya lama ever came into conflict with the dpon-chen, the dpon-chen had the authority to send Chinese troops into the region.

Tibet retained nominal power over religious and regional political affairs, while the Mongols managed a structural and administrative rule over the region, reinforced by the rare military intervention. This existed as a "diarchic
Diarchy
Diarchy , from the Greek δι- "twice" and αρχια, "rule", is a form of government in which two individuals, the diarchs, are the heads of state. In most diarchies, the diarchs hold their position for life and pass the responsibilities and power of the position to their children or family when they...

 structure" under the Yuan emperor, with power primarily in favor of the Mongols. Mongolian prince Khuden gained temporal power in Tibet in the 1240s and sponsored Sakya Pandita, whose seat became the capital of Tibet.

Yuan control over the region ended with the Ming overthrow of the Yuan and Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen
Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen
Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen was a key figure in Tibetan History. He was founder of the Phagmodrupa dynasty and ruler of Tibet from 1354 to 1364 or 1371....

's revolt against the Mongols. Following the uprising, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen founded the Phagmodrupa dynasty
Phagmodrupa dynasty
The Phagmodrupa dynasty or Pagmodru of Tibet was established by Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen at the end of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Tai Situ came from the monastic fief Phagmodru , which was originally founded as a hermitage in 1158 by the famous Kagyu scholar Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo...

, and sought to reduce Yuan influences over Tibetan culture and politics.

Phagmodrupa Dynasty and the Dalai Lamas


Between 1346 and 1354, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen
Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen
Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen was a key figure in Tibetan History. He was founder of the Phagmodrupa dynasty and ruler of Tibet from 1354 to 1364 or 1371....

 toppled the Sakya and founded the Phagmodrupa dynasty
Phagmodrupa dynasty
The Phagmodrupa dynasty or Pagmodru of Tibet was established by Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen at the end of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. Tai Situ came from the monastic fief Phagmodru , which was originally founded as a hermitage in 1158 by the famous Kagyu scholar Phagmo Drupa Dorje Gyalpo...

.
The following 80 years saw the founding of the Gelug
Gelug
The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

 school (also known as Yellow Hats) by the disciples of Je Tsongkhapa
Je Tsongkhapa
Tsongkhapa , whose name means “The Man from Onion Valley”, was a famous teacher of Tibetan Buddhism whose activities led to the formation of the Geluk school...

,
and the founding of the important Ganden
Ganden Monastery
Ganden Monastery or Ganden Namgyeling is one of the 'great three' Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, located at the top of Wangbur Mountain, Tagtse County, 36 kilometers ENE from the Potala Palace in Lhasa, at an altitude of 4,300m...

, Drepung
Ganden Monastery
Ganden Monastery or Ganden Namgyeling is one of the 'great three' Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, located at the top of Wangbur Mountain, Tagtse County, 36 kilometers ENE from the Potala Palace in Lhasa, at an altitude of 4,300m...

, and Sera
Sera Monastery
Sera Monastery is one of the 'great three' Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, located north of Lhasa. The other two are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery. The origin of the name 'Sera' is attributed to a fact that the site where the monastery was built was surrounded by wild roses in...

 monasteries near Lhasa.

In 1578, Altan Khan
Altan Khan
Altan Khan , whose given name was Anda , was the ruler of the Tümet Mongols and de facto ruler of the Right Wing, or western tribes, of the Mongols...

 of the Tümed
Tümed
The Tümed are a Mongol subgroup. Most engage in sedentary agriculture, living in mixed communities in the suburbs of Huhhot. Part of them live along Hulun Buir, Inner Mongolia...

 Mongols gave Sonam Gyatso, a high lama of the Gelugpa school, the name Dalai Lama; Dalai being the Mongolian translation of the Tibetan name Gyatso, or "Ocean".

The first Europeans to arrive in Tibet were the Portuguese
Portuguese people
The Portuguese are a nation and ethnic group native to the country of Portugal, in the west of the Iberian peninsula of south-west Europe. Their language is Portuguese, and Roman Catholicism is the predominant religion....

 missionaries António de Andrade
António de Andrade
Father António de Andrade was a Jesuit priest and explorer from Portugal. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1596. From 1600 until his death in 1634 he was engaged in missionary activity in India...

 and Manuel Marques in 1624. They were welcomed by the King and Queen of Guge
Guge
Guge was an ancient kingdom in Western Tibet. The kingdom was centered in present-day Zanda County, within Ngari Prefecture of Tibet Autonomous Region, China. At various points in history after 10th century AD, the kingdom held sway over a vast area including south-eastern Zanskar, Upper Kinnaur,...

, and were allowed to build a church and to introduce Christian belief. The king of Guge eagerly accepted Christianity as an offsetting religious influence to dilute the thriving Gelugpa and to counterbalance his potential rivals and consolidate his position. All missionaries were expelled in 1745.

Qing Dynasty


The Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 put Amdo
Amdo
Amdo is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet, the other two being Ü-Tsang and Kham; it is also the birth place of the 14th Dalai Lama. Amdo encompasses a large area from the Machu River to the Drichu river . While culturally and ethnically a Tibetan area, Amdo has been administered by a...

 under their control in 1724, and incorporated eastern Kham
Kham
Kham , is a historical region covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan province, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China , most of the region was...

 into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728. The Qing government sent a resident commissioner, called an Amban
Amban
Amban is a Manchu word meaning "high official," which corresponds to a number of different official titles in the Qing imperial government...

, to Lhasa. In 1750 the Ambans and majority of Chinese and Manchu living in Lhasa were killed, and Qing troops arrived quickly and suppressed the rebels in the next year. Like the preceding Yuan dynasty, the Manchus of the Qing dynasty exerted military and administrative control of the region, while granting it a degree of political autonomy. The political authority over Tibet was passed to the Dalai Lama leading the government, namely Kashag
Kashag
The Kashag was the governing council of Tibet during Qing Dynasty and Republic of China. It was set by Qianlong Emperor in 1751. In that year the Tibetan government was reorganized after the riots in Lhasa of the previous year...

. The Qing commander publicly executed a number of supporters of the rebels, and, as in 1723 and 1728, made changes in the political structure and drew up a formal organization plan. The Qing now restored the Dalai Lama as ruler but elevated the role of Amban to include more direct involvement in Tibetan internal affairs. At the same time the Qing took steps to counterbalance the power of the aristocracy by adding officials recruited from the clergy to key posts.

For several decades, peace reigned in Tibet, but in 1792 the Qing emperor sent a large Chinese army into Tibet to push the invading Nepalese out. This prompted yet another Qing reorganization of the Tibetan government, this time through a written plan called the "Twenty-Nine Regulations for Better Government in Tibet". Qing military garrisons staffed with Qing troops were now also established near the Nepalese border. Tibet was dominated by the Manchus in various stages in the 18th century, and the years immediately following the 1792 regulations were the peak of the Qing imperial commissioners' authority; but there was no attempt to make Tibet a Chinese province.

In 1834 the Sikh Empire invaded and annexed Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

, a culturally Tibetan region that was an independent kingdom at the time. Seven years later a Sikh army led by General Zorawar Singh
General Zorawar Singh
Zorawar Singh Kahluria was born in a village of Kahlur State in modern Himachal Pradesh, India....

 invaded western Tibet from Ladakh, starting the Sino-Sikh War
Sino-Sikh War
The Sino-Sikh War or Sino-Dogra War was fought from May of 1841 to August of 1842 between the Qing Empire and the forces of the Sikh governor of Jammu, Gulab Singh, after he invaded western Tibet. The Dogra army was routed and the Qing counterattacked but were defeated in Ladakh...

. A Qing-Tibetan army repelled the invaders but was in turn defeated when it chased the Sikhs into Ladakh. The war ended with the signing of the Treaty of Chushul between the Chinese and Sikh empires.

As the Qing Dynasty weakened, its authority over Tibet also gradually weakened; by the mid 19th century, its influence was minuscule. Qing authority over Tibet had become more symbolic than real in the late 19th century, although in the 1860s the Tibetans still choose for reasons of their own to emphasize the empire's symbolic authority and make it seem substantial.

This period also saw some contacts with Jesuits and Capuchins
Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an Order of friars in the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Father Mauro Jöhri.-Origins :...

 from Europe, and in 1774 a Scottish nobleman, George Bogle, came to Shigatse
Shigatse
Shigatse is a county-level city and the second largest city in Tibet Autonomous Region , People's Republic of China, with a population of 92000, about southwest of Lhasa and northwest of Gyantse...

 to investigate trade for the British East India Company
British East India Company
The East India Company was an early English joint-stock company that was formed initially for pursuing trade with the East Indies, but that ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent and China...

. However, by the 19th century the situation of foreigners in Tibet grew more tenuous. The British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 was encroaching from northern India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 into the Himalayas
Himalayas
The Himalaya Range or Himalaya Mountains Sanskrit: Devanagari: हिमालय, literally "abode of snow"), usually called the Himalayas or Himalaya for short, is a mountain range in Asia, separating the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau...

, the Emirate of Afghanistan
Emirate of Afghanistan
The Emirate of Afghanistan began with the end of the Durrani Empire and the reign of Dost Mohammad Khan in 1823 and ended when Amir Amanullah Khan became Shah in 1926. This period was characterized by the expansion of European colonial interests in Central Asia...

 and the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

 were expanding into Central Asia and each power became suspicious of the others' intentions in Tibet.

In 1904, a British expedition to Tibet
British expedition to Tibet
The British expedition to Tibet during 1903 and 1904 was an invasion of Tibet by British Indian forces, whose mission was to establish diplomatic relations and trade between the British Raj and Tibet...

, spurred in part by a fear that Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 was extending its power into Tibet, invaded Tibet, hoping that negotiations with the 13th Dalai Lama would be more effective than with Chinese representatives. When the mission reached Lhasa, Younghusband imposed a treaty which was subsequently repudiated, and was succeeded by a 1906 treaty signed between Britain
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

 and China.

In 1910, the Qing government sent a military expedition of its own under Zhao Erfeng
Zhao Erfeng
Zhao Erfeng was a Qing official and Chinese bannerman, who belonged to the Plain Blue Banner. He is known for being the last amban in Tibet, appointed in March, 1908. Lien Yu , a Manchu, was appointed as the other amban...

 to establish direct Chinese rule and deposed the Dalai Lama in an imperial edict, who fled to British India. Zhao Erfeng
Zhao Erfeng
Zhao Erfeng was a Qing official and Chinese bannerman, who belonged to the Plain Blue Banner. He is known for being the last amban in Tibet, appointed in March, 1908. Lien Yu , a Manchu, was appointed as the other amban...

 defeated the Tibetan military conclusively and expelled the Dalai Lama's forces from the province. However, his actions were unpopular, and there was much animosity against him for his mistreatment of civilians and disregard for local culture.

Post-Qing period


After the Xinhai Revolution
Xinhai Revolution
The Xinhai Revolution or Hsinhai Revolution, also known as Revolution of 1911 or the Chinese Revolution, was a revolution that overthrew China's last imperial dynasty, the Qing , and established the Republic of China...

 (1911–12) toppled the Qing Dynasty and the last Qing troops were escorted out of Tibet, the new Republic of China
Republic of China
The Republic of China , commonly known as Taiwan , is a unitary sovereign state located in East Asia. Originally based in mainland China, the Republic of China currently governs the island of Taiwan , which forms over 99% of its current territory, as well as Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and other minor...

 apologized for the actions of the Qing and offered to restore the Dalai Lama's title. The Dalai Lama refused any Chinese title, and declared himself ruler of an independent Tibet in collusion with Mongolia. For the next thirty-six years, the 13th Dalai Lama and the regents who succeeded him governed Tibet. During this time, Tibet fought Chinese warlords for control of the ethnically Tibetan areas in Xikang
Xikang
Xikang or Sikang , is a defunct province of the Republic of China , comprising most of the Kham region of traditional Tibet, where Khampas, a subgroup of the Tibetan ethnicity, live. The area is also home to a small minority of Mongol ethnicity...

 and Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

 (parts of Kham
Kham
Kham , is a historical region covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan province, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China , most of the region was...

 and Amdo
Amdo
Amdo is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet, the other two being Ü-Tsang and Kham; it is also the birth place of the 14th Dalai Lama. Amdo encompasses a large area from the Machu River to the Drichu river . While culturally and ethnically a Tibetan area, Amdo has been administered by a...

) along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

. In 1914 the Tibetan government signed the Simla Accord with Britain, ceding the South Tibet
South Tibet
The Arunachal Pradesh dispute is a territorial dispute over the region located on the middle of the Yarlung Zangbo River, 300 km north of the Himalayas. It is entirely administered by India as part of its Arunachal Pradesh state; China claims it as a part of its Tibet Autonomous Region and...

 region to British India. The Chinese government denounced the agreement as illegal.

When the regents in the 1930s and 40s displayed negligence in affairs, the Kuomintang Government of the Republic of China used this to their advantage to expand their reach into the territory.

From 1950 to present


Emerging with control over most of mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

 after the Chinese Civil War
Chinese Civil War
The Chinese Civil War was a civil war fought between the Kuomintang , the governing party of the Republic of China, and the Communist Party of China , for the control of China which eventually led to China's division into two Chinas, Republic of China and People's Republic of...

, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 incorporated Tibet in 1950 and negotiated the Seventeen Point Agreement
Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet
The Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, or the Seventeen Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet for short, is the document by which the delegates of the 14th Dalai Lama allegedly reached an...

 with the newly enthroned 14th Dalai Lama
14th Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama is the 14th and current Dalai Lama. Dalai Lamas are the most influential figures in the Gelugpa lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, although the 14th has consolidated control over the other lineages in recent years...

's government, affirming the People's Republic of China's sovereignty but granting the area autonomy. After the Dalai Lama government fled to Dharamsala
Dharamsala
Dharamshala or Dharamsala is a city in northern India. It was formerly known as Bhagsu; it is the winter seat of government of the state of Himachal Pradesh and the district headquarters of the Kangra district....

, India during the 1959 Tibetan Rebellion, it established a rival government-in-exile
Central Tibetan Administration
The Central Tibetan Administration , is an organisation based in India with the stated goals of "rehabilitating Tibetan refugees and restoring freedom and happiness in Tibet". It was established by the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959 shortly after his exile from Tibet...

. Afterwards, the Central People's Government
Central People's Government
The Central People's Government is the central government of the People's Republic of China in Beijing. According to the 1982 Constitution, "Central People's Government" is synonymous with the State Council.-History:...

 in Beijing renounced the agreement and began implementation of the halted social and political reforms. During the Great Leap Forward
Great Leap Forward
The Great Leap Forward of the People's Republic of China was an economic and social campaign of the Communist Party of China , reflected in planning decisions from 1958 to 1961, which aimed to use China's vast population to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a modern...

 between 200,000 and 1,000,000 Tibetans died, and approximately 6,000 monasteries were destroyed around the Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

. In 1962 China and India fought a brief war
Sino-Indian War
The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

 over the disputed South Tibet
South Tibet
The Arunachal Pradesh dispute is a territorial dispute over the region located on the middle of the Yarlung Zangbo River, 300 km north of the Himalayas. It is entirely administered by India as part of its Arunachal Pradesh state; China claims it as a part of its Tibet Autonomous Region and...

 and Aksai Chin
Aksai Chin
Aksai Chin is one of the two main disputed border areas between China and India, and the other is South Tibet, which comprises most of India's Arunachal Pradesh. It is administered by China as part of Hotan County in the Hotan Prefecture of Xinjiang Autonomous Region, but is also claimed by India...

 regions. Although China won the war, Chinese troops withdrew north of the McMahon Line
McMahon Line
The McMahon Line is a line agreed to by Great Britain and Tibet as part of Simla Accord, a treaty signed in 1914. Although its legal status is disputed by China, it is the effective boundary between China and India....

, effectively ceding South Tibet back to India.

In 1980, General Secretary and reformist Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang was a leader of the People's Republic of China who served as both Chairman and Party General Secretary. Hu joined the Chinese Communist Party in the 1930s, and rose to prominence as a comrade of Deng Xiaoping...

 visited Tibet, and ushered in a period of social, political, and economic liberalization. At the end of the decade, however analogously to the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989
The Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, also known as the June Fourth Incident in Chinese , were a series of demonstrations in and near Tiananmen Square in Beijing in the People's Republic of China beginning on 15 April 1989...

, monks in the Drepung
Drepung Monastery
Drepung Monastery ,, located at the foot of Mount Gephel, is one of the "great three" Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet...

 and Sera
Sera Monastery
Sera Monastery is one of the 'great three' Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet, located north of Lhasa. The other two are Ganden Monastery and Drepung Monastery. The origin of the name 'Sera' is attributed to a fact that the site where the monastery was built was surrounded by wild roses in...

 monasteries started protesting for independence, and so the government halted reforms and started an anti-separatist campaign. Human rights organisations have been critical of the Beijing and Lhasa governments' approach to human rights in the region
Human rights in Tibet
Human rights in Tibet are a contentious political issue.Pre-1950 Tibet has been described as a society in which the concept of human rights was unknown: it was ruled by a theocracy, beset by serfdorm and a form of slavery, had a caste-like social hierarchy, lacked a proper judicial system, enforced...

 when cracking down on separatist convulsions that have occurred around monasteries and cities, most recently in the 2008 Tibetan unrest
2008 Tibetan unrest
The 2008 Tibetan unrest, also known from its Chinese name as the 3•14 Riots, was a series of riots, protests, and demonstrations that started in Tibetan regional capital of Lhasa and spread to other Tibetan areas and a number of monasteries including outside the Tibet Autonomous Region...

.

Geography




All of modern China, including Tibet, is considered a part of East Asia. Historically, some European sources also considered parts of Tibet to lie in Central Asia. Tibet is west of the Central China plain
Central Plain (China)
Zhongyuan or the Central Plain of China refers to the area on the lower reaches of the Yellow River which formed the cradle of Chinese civilization. It forms part of the North China Plain....

, and within mainland China
Mainland China
Mainland China, the Chinese mainland or simply the mainland, is a geopolitical term that refers to the area under the jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China . According to the Taipei-based Mainland Affairs Council, the term excludes the PRC Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and...

, Tibet is regarded as part of 西部 (Xībù), a term usually translated by Chinese media as "the Western section", meaning "Western China".

Tibet has some of the world's tallest mountains, with several of them making the top ten list. Mount Everest
Mount Everest
Mount Everest is the world's highest mountain, with a peak at above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The international boundary runs across the precise summit point...

, at 8848 metres (29,029 ft), is the highest mountain on earth, located on the border with Nepal
Nepal
Nepal , officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked sovereign state located in South Asia. It is located in the Himalayas and bordered to the north by the People's Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India...

. Several major rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau (mostly in present-day Qinghai Province). These include Yangtze
Yangtze River
The Yangtze, Yangzi or Cháng Jiāng is the longest river in Asia, and the third-longest in the world. It flows for from the glaciers on the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai eastward across southwest, central and eastern China before emptying into the East China Sea at Shanghai. It is also one of the...

, Yellow River
Yellow River
The Yellow River or Huang He, formerly known as the Hwang Ho, is the second-longest river in China and the sixth-longest in the world at the estimated length of . Originating in the Bayan Har Mountains in Qinghai Province in western China, it flows through nine provinces of China and empties into...

, Indus River
Indus River
The Indus River is a major river which flows through Pakistan. It also has courses through China and India.Originating in the Tibetan plateau of western China in the vicinity of Lake Mansarovar in Tibet Autonomous Region, the river runs a course through the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir and...

, Mekong
Mekong
The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is , and it drains an area of , discharging of water annually....

, Ganges, Salween
Salween River
The Salween is a river, about long, that flows from the Tibetan Plateau into the Andaman Sea in Southeast Asia. It drains a narrow and mountainous watershed of that extends into the countries China, Burma and Thailand. Steep canyon walls line the swift, powerful and undammed Salween, one of the...

 and the Yarlung Zangbo River
Yarlung Zangbo River
Yarlung River is a watercourse that originates upstream from the South Tibet Valley and Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, in Tibet. It then passes through the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India, where it is known as the Dihang....

 (Brahmaputra River
Brahmaputra River
The Brahmaputra , also called Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, is a trans-boundary river and one of the major rivers of Asia. It is the only Indian river that is attributed the masculine gender and thus referred to as a in Indo-Aryan languages and languages with Indo-Aryan influence...

). The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, along the Yarlung Zangbo River
Yarlung Zangbo River
Yarlung River is a watercourse that originates upstream from the South Tibet Valley and Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, in Tibet. It then passes through the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India, where it is known as the Dihang....

, is among the deepest and longest canyons in the world.

Tibet has been called the "Water Tower" of Asia, and China is investing heavily in water projects in Tibet.

The Indus and Brahmaputra rivers originate from a lake (Tib: Tso Mapham) in Western Tibet, near Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash
Mount Kailash is a peak in the Gangdisê Mountains, which are part of the Himalayas in Tibet...

. The mountain is a holy pilgrimage site for both Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

s and Tibetans. The Hindus consider the mountain to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The Tibetan name for Mt. Kailash is Khang Rinpoche. Tibet has numerous high-altitude lakes referred to in Tibetan as tso or co. These include Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake
Qinghai Lake , is a saline lake situated in the province of Qinghai, and is the largest lake in China. The names Qinghai and Kokonor both mean "Blue/Teal Sea/Lake" in Chinese and Mongolian. It is located about west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205 m above sea level in a depression...

, Lake Manasarovar
Lake Manasarovar
Lake Manasarovar, Mapam Yumco , or Manasa Sarovar/Lake Manas , is a fresh-water lake in Tibet Autonomous Region of China approximately from Lhasa. To the west of Lake Manasa Sarovar is Lake Rakshastal and towards the north is Mount Kailash...

, Namtso
Namtso
Namtso or Lake Nam is a mountain lake on the border between Damxung County of Lhasa Prefecture and Baingoin County of Nagqu Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, approximately NNW of Lhasa....

, Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso
Pangong Tso is an endorheic lake in the Himalayas situated at a height of about . It is long and extends from India to Tibet. 60% of the length of the lake lies in China. The lake is wide at its broadest point...

, Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake
Yamdrok Lake is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet . It is over long. The lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and is fed by numerous small streams. The lake does have an outlet stream at its far western end....

, Siling Co
Siling Co
Sêling Co is a lake in central Tibet on the Tibetan plateau. Doijiang is located near the lake.The lake lies at an altitude of 4530 meters. It is a salt lake. It is fed by the rivers Za'gya Zangbo and the Boques Tsangpo ....

, Lhamo La-tso
Lhamo La-tso
Lhamo La-tso or Lhamo Latso , the small oval 'Oracle Lake', is where senior Tibetan monks go for visions to assist in the discovery of reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas. Other pilgrims also come to seek visions...

, Lumajangdong Co
Lumajangdong Co
Lumajangdong Co is a lake in China with an area of 250 km². It is located at 34° 2' 0" and 81° 40' 0". Gormain lies a few miles to the northeast.-External links:* * Map showing location of the lake...

, Lake Puma Yumco
Lake Puma Yumco
Lake Puma Yumco is a lake located at 5,030 meters above mean sea level on the southern Tibetan Plateau. It is long, and is wide. Streams of water from the snow-capped surrounding mountains feed the lake, but the lake has no outlet...

, Lake Paiku
Lake Paiku
Lake Paiku -- in Tibetan Paiku-Tso or -Tsho -- is at 4,591 meters elevation on the Tibetan Plateau at , 18 km south of the Yarlung Tsangpo Lake Paiku (or Peiku) -- in Tibetan Paiku-Tso or -Tsho -- is at 4,591 meters (15,070 ft) elevation on the Tibetan Plateau at , 18 km south of the Yarlung...

, Lake Rakshastal
Lake Rakshastal
Lake Rakshastal is a lake in Tibet, lying close to the west of Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash. The Satluj River originates at Rakshastal's northwestern tip. Despite its close proximity to Lake Manasarovar—over the road to Purang County, Lake Rakshastal does not share the lore of worship with...

, Dagze Co
Dagze Co
Dagzê Lake is one of many inland lakes in Tibet, with a present area of 260 km² . In glacial times, the region was considerably wetter, and lakes were correspondingly much larger. Changes in climate have resulted in greater aridity on the Tibetan Plateau...

 and Dong Co. The Qinghai Lake (Koko Nor) is the largest lake in the People's Republic of China.

The atmosphere is severely dry nine months of the year, and average annual snowfall is only 18 inches, due to the rain shadow effect
Rain shadow
A rain shadow is a dry area on the lee side of a mountainous area. The mountains block the passage of rain-producing weather systems, casting a "shadow" of dryness behind them. As shown by the diagram to the right, the warm moist air is "pulled" by the prevailing winds over a mountain...

. Western passes receive small amounts of fresh snow each year but remain traversable all year round. Low temperatures are prevalent throughout these western regions, where bleak desolation is unrelieved by any vegetation beyond the size of low bushes, and where wind sweeps unchecked across vast expanses of arid plain. The Indian monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 exerts some influence on eastern Tibet. Northern Tibet is subject to high temperatures in the summer and intense cold in the winter.

Cultural Tibet consists of several regions. These include Amdo
Amdo
Amdo is one of the three traditional regions of Tibet, the other two being Ü-Tsang and Kham; it is also the birth place of the 14th Dalai Lama. Amdo encompasses a large area from the Machu River to the Drichu river . While culturally and ethnically a Tibetan area, Amdo has been administered by a...

 (A mdo) in the northeast, which is administratively part of the provinces of Qinghai
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

, Gansu and Sichuan
Sichuan
' , known formerly in the West by its postal map spellings of Szechwan or Szechuan is a province in Southwest China with its capital in Chengdu...

. Kham
Kham
Kham , is a historical region covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan province, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China , most of the region was...

 (Khams) in the southeast encompasses parts of western Sichuan, northern Yunnan
Yunnan
Yunnan is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the far southwest of the country spanning approximately and with a population of 45.7 million . The capital of the province is Kunming. The province borders Burma, Laos, and Vietnam.Yunnan is situated in a mountainous area, with...

, southern Qinghai and the eastern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Ü-Tsang
Ü-Tsang
Ü-Tsang , or Tsang-Ü, is one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the other two being Amdo and Kham. Geographically Ü-Tsang covered the central and western portions of the Tibetan cultural area, including the Tsang-po watershed, the western districts surrounding and extending past Mount...

 (dBus gTsang) (Ü in the center, Tsang in the center-west, and Ngari (mNga' ris) in the far west) covered the central and western portion of Tibet Autonomous Region.

Tibetan cultural influences extend to the neighboring states of Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

, Nepal, regions of India such as Sikkim
Sikkim
Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayan mountains...

, Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

, Lahaul, and Spiti
Spiti
-Geographical locations:*Lahaul and Spiti, a district in the state of Himachal Pradesh in India.*Spiti Valley, former heartland of the former Spiti district now combined.*Spiti River, in the Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh.*Spitia River-Language:...

, in addition to designated Tibetan autonomous area
Autonomous area
An autonomous area or autonomous entity is an area of a country that has a degree of autonomy, or freedom from an external authority. Typically it is either geographically distinct from the rest of the country or populated by a national minority. Countries that include autonomous areas are often...

s in adjacent Chinese provinces.

Cities, towns and villages


There are over 800 settlements in Tibet. Lhasa
Lhasa
Lhasa is the administrative capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China and the second most populous city on the Tibetan Plateau, after Xining. At an altitude of , Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world...

 is Tibet's traditional capital and the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. It contains two world heritage sites – the Potala Palace
Potala Palace
The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It was named after Mount Potala, the abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara...

 and Norbulingka
Norbulingka
Norbulingka is a palace and surrounding park in Lhasa, Tibet, built from 1755. It served as the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until the 14th Dalai Lama's exile in 1959...

, which were the residences of the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is a high lama in the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The name is a combination of the Mongolian word далай meaning "Ocean" and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning "teacher"...

. Lhasa contains a number of significant temples and monasteries, including Jokhang
Jokhang
The Jokhang, , also called the Qokang Monastery, Jokang, Jokhang Temple, Jokhang Monastery or Zuglagkang , is located on Barkhor Square in Lhasa. For most Tibetans it is the most sacred and important temple in Tibet. It is in some regards pan-sectarian, but is presently controlled by the Gelug school...

 and Ramoche Temple
Ramoche Temple
Ramoche Temple is a Buddhist monastery is considered the most important temple in Lhasa after the Jokhang Temple. Situated in the northwest of the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, it is east of the Potala and north of the Jokhang, covering a total area of 4,000 square meters .-History:Ramoche is...

.

Shigatse
Shigatse
Shigatse is a county-level city and the second largest city in Tibet Autonomous Region , People's Republic of China, with a population of 92000, about southwest of Lhasa and northwest of Gyantse...

 is the second largest city in the Tibet AR, west of Lhasa. Gyantse
Gyantse
Gyantse is a town located in Gyangzê County, Shigatse Prefecture. It was historically considered the third largest and most prominent town in the Tibet region , but there are now at least ten larger Tibetan cities.-Location:The town is strategically located in the Nyang River Valley on the ancient...

 and Qamdo
Qamdo
Qamdo , Chamdo , 昌都 can refer to:* Chamdo, a town in Tibet* Qamdo Region, a former administrative region in western Kham, Tibet - see Qamdo Prefecture...

 are also amongst the largest.

Other cities and towns in cultural Tibet include Shiquanhe (Ali), Nagchu, Bamda
Bamda
Bamda is a small town in the Nyingchi Prefecture in the south-east of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, roughly 1,000 km from Lhasa. It is basically an army garrison with a small Tibetan village around the corner.It lies at an altitude of 4,400 metres...

, Rutog
Rutog Town
Rutog or Rudok is a town and seat of Rutog County in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. Located in western Tibet, it is the seat of Rutog County in the Ngari Prefecture. The town has a population of about 10000 people...

, Nyingchi, Nedong
Nêdong (village)
Nedong or Netong, is a village in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China.Nedong was the seat of the Phagmodrupa dynasty which was the dominating regime in Tibet from 1354 to 1435 and maintained a degree of authority until the early 17th century....

, Coqên
Coqên (village)
Coqen is a town in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. It lies at an altitude of 4,718 metres . It is on the main route between Lhasa and Kashgar, not far from Lhaze over a river and past some large glaciers.-See also:...

, Barkam, Sakya, Gartse, Pelbar, Lhatse
Lhatse
The new town of Lhatse or Lhatse Xian , is also known as Chusar , is a small town of a few thousand people in Tibet, in the valley of the Yarlung Zangbo River 151 km southwest of Shigatse and just west of the mountain pass leading to it. Lhatse is 4,050 m...

, and Tingri; in Sichuan, Kangding
Kangding
Kangding or Dardo is the name of a county in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in western Sichuan Province, China. It is administrated at the city of Kangding...

 (Dartsedo); in Qinghai, Jyekundo (Yushu), Machen, and Golmud
Golmud
Golmud , sometimes transliterated as Ge'ermu or Geermu, is a county-level city in Qinghai Province, Western China. Administrated by Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, it is the second largest city in Qinghai and the third largest in the Tibetan Plateau . The population is now about...

; in India, Tawang, Leh, and Gangtok
Gangtok
Gangtok is the capital and largest town of the Indian state of Sikkim. Gangtok is located in the Shivalik Hills of the eastern Himalayan range, at an altitude of . The town, with a population of thirty thousand belonging to different ethnicities such as Nepalis, Lepchas and Bhutia, is administered...

.

Economy



The Tibetan economy is dominated by subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture
Subsistence agriculture is self-sufficiency farming in which the farmers focus on growing enough food to feed their families. The typical subsistence farm has a range of crops and animals needed by the family to eat and clothe themselves during the year. Planting decisions are made with an eye...

. Due to limited arable land, the primary occupation of the Tibetan Plateau is raising livestock, such as sheep
Domestic sheep
Sheep are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals typically kept as livestock. Like all ruminants, sheep are members of the order Artiodactyla, the even-toed ungulates. Although the name "sheep" applies to many species in the genus Ovis, in everyday usage it almost always refers to Ovis aries...

, cattle, goats, camels, yaks, dzo
Dzo
A dzo is a hybrid of yak and domestic cattle. The word dzo technically refers to a male hybrid, while a female is known as a dzomo or zhom. Alternative Romanizations of the Tibetan names include zho and zo. In Mongolian it is called khainag...

, and horses. The main crops grown are barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, wheat, buckwheat
Buckwheat
Buckwheat refers to a variety of plants in the dicot family Polygonaceae: the Eurasian genus Fagopyrum, the North American genus Eriogonum, and the Northern Hemisphere genus Fallopia. Either of the latter two may be referred to as "wild buckwheat"...

, rye
Rye
Rye is a grass grown extensively as a grain and as a forage crop. It is a member of the wheat tribe and is closely related to barley and wheat. Rye grain is used for flour, rye bread, rye beer, some whiskeys, some vodkas, and animal fodder...

, potatoes, and assorted fruits and vegetables. Tibet is ranked the lowest among China’s 31 provinces on the Human Development Index according to UN Development Programme data. In recent years, due to increased interest in Tibetan Buddhism, tourism has become an increasingly important sector, and is actively promoted by the authorities. Tourism brings in the most income from the sale of handicrafts. These include Tibetan hats, jewelry (silver and gold), wooden items, clothing, quilts, fabrics, Tibetan rug
Tibetan rug
Tibetan rug making is an ancient, traditional craft. Tibetan rugs are traditionally made from Tibetan highland sheep's wool, called changpel. Tibetans use rugs for many purposes ranging from flooring to wall hanging to horse saddles, though the most common use is as a seating carpet...

s and carpets. The Central People's Government exempts Tibet from all taxation and provides 90% of Tibet's government expenditures.

The Qingzang railway
Qingzang railway
The Qinghai–Xizang railway, Qingzang railway, or Qinghai–Tibet railway , is a high-elevation railway that connects Xining, Qinghai Province, to Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, in People's Republic of China....

 linking the Tibet Autonomous Region
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

 to Qinghai Province
Qinghai
Qinghai ; Oirat Mongolian: ; ; Salar:) is a province of the People's Republic of China, named after Qinghai Lake...

 was opened in 2006, but not without controversy.

In January 2007, the Chinese government issued a report outlining the discovery of a large mineral deposit under the Tibetan Plateau
Tibetan Plateau
The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai–Tibetan Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai, in addition to smaller portions of western Sichuan, southwestern Gansu, and northern Yunnan in Western China and Ladakh in...

. The deposit has an estimated value of $128 billion and may double Chinese reserves of zinc, copper, and lead. The Chinese government sees this as a way to alleviate the nation's dependence on foreign mineral imports for its growing economy. However, critics worry that mining these vast resources will harm Tibet's fragile ecosystem and undermine Tibetan culture.

On January 15, 2009, China announced the construction of Tibet’s first expressway, a 37.9-kilometre stretch of controlled-access highway
Controlled-access highway
A controlled-access highway is a highway designed exclusively for high-speed vehicular traffic, with all traffic flow and ingress/egress regulated...

 in southwestern Lhasa. The project will cost 1.55 billion yuan
Chinese yuan
The yuan is the base unit of a number of modern Chinese currencies. The yuan is the primary unit of account of the Renminbi.A yuán is also known colloquially as a kuài . One yuán is divided into 10 jiǎo or colloquially máo...

 (US$227 million).

From January 18–20, 2010 a national conference on Tibet and areas inhabited by Tibetans in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu and Qinghai was held in China and a substantial plan to improve development of the areas was announced. The conference was attended by Chinese President Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao
Hu Jintao is the current Paramount Leader of the People's Republic of China. He has held the titles of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China since 2002, President of the People's Republic of China since 2003, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission since 2004, succeeding Jiang...

, Wu Bangguo
Wu Bangguo
Wu Bangguo is a high-ranking politician in the People's Republic of China. He is currently Chairman and Party secretary of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, a position that makes him China's chief legislator...

, Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao is the sixth and current Premier and Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, serving as China's head of government and leading its cabinet. In his capacity as Premier, Wen is regarded as the leading figure behind China's economic policy...

, Jia Qinglin
Jia Qinglin
Jia Qinglin is a senior leader of the People's Republic of China. He is the fourth ranking member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, the Chairman and Party secretary of the National Committee of the People's Political Consultative Conference. Jia's functions as...

, Li Changchun
Li Changchun
Li Changchun is the Propaganda chief of the Communist Party of China. He is the 5th ranked member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China, China's de facto top power organ, and has been a member since 2002...

, Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping
Xi Jinping is a high ranking politician of the People's Republic of China. He currently serves as the top-ranking member of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China, the country's Vice President, Vice-Chairman of the Central Military Commission, President of the Central Party School and the...

, Li Keqiang
Li Keqiang
Li Keqiang is the First-ranking Vice-Premier and deputy Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, the seventh ranked member of the Politburo Standing Committee, the People's Republic of China's de facto highest decision-making body...

, He Guoqiang
He Guoqiang
He Guoqiang is a high-ranking government official in the government of the People's Republic of China. Currently he is the eighth ranked member of the Politburo Standing Committee, and the head of the new Central Commission for Discipline Inspection....

 and Zhou Yongkang
Zhou Yongkang
Zhou Yongkang is a senior leader of the Communist Party of China who is currently serving as the 9th ranked member of the powerful Politburo Standing Committee, and the head of the Central Political and Legislative Committee, an organ directing central government legal policy and the legislative...

 signaling the commitment of senior Chinese leaders to development of Tibet and ethnic Tibetan areas. The plan calls for improvement of rural Tibetan income to national standards by 2020 and free education for all rural Tibetan children. China has invested 310 billion yuan (about 45.6 billion U.S. dollars) in Tibet since 2001. "Tibet's GDP was expected to reach 43.7 billion yuan in 2009, up 170 percent from that in 2000 and posting an annual growth of 12.3 percent over the past nine years."

Development Zone


The State Council approved Tibet Lhasa Economic and Technological Development Zone as a state-level development zone in 2001. It is located in the western suburbs of Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is 50 km away from the Gonggar Airport, and 2 km away from Lhasa Railway Station and 2 km away from 318 national highway.

The zone has a planned area of 5.46 square kilometers and is divided into two zones. Zone A developed a land area of 2.51 square kilometers for construction purposes. It is a flat zone, and has the natural conditions for good drainage.

Demographics




Historically, the population of Tibet consisted of primarily ethnic Tibetans
Tibetan people
The Tibetan people are an ethnic group that is native to Tibet, which is mostly in the People's Republic of China. They number 5.4 million and are the 10th largest ethnic group in the country. Significant Tibetan minorities also live in India, Nepal, and Bhutan...

 and some other ethnic groups. According to tradition the original ancestors of the Tibetan people, as represented by the six red bands in the Tibetan flag, are: the Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru and Ra. Other traditional ethnic groups with significant population or with the majority of the ethnic group reside in Tibet (excluding disputed area with India
Sino-Indian War
The Sino-Indian War , also known as the Sino-Indian Border Conflict , was a war between China and India that occurred in 1962. A disputed Himalayan border was the main pretext for war, but other issues played a role. There had been a series of violent border incidents after the 1959 Tibetan...

) include Bai people, Blang
Blang
The Blang people are an ethnic group. They form one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China.-Language:...

, Bonan
Bonan
The Bonan people are an ethnic group living in Gansu and Qinghai provinces in northwestern China...

, Dongxiang
Dongxiang people
The Dongxiang people are one of 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China...

, Han
Han Chinese
Han Chinese are an ethnic group native to China and are the largest single ethnic group in the world.Han Chinese constitute about 92% of the population of the People's Republic of China , 98% of the population of the Republic of China , 78% of the population of Singapore, and about 20% of the...

, Hui people
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

, Lhoba
Lhoba
Lhoba is a term of obscure origin which has come to apply to a diverse amalgamation of Tibeto-Burman tribespeople living in and around "Pemako" , including Mainling, Medog, Zayü counties of Nyingchi Prefecture and Lhünzê County of Shannan Prefecture...

, Lisu people, Miao
Miao people
The Miao or ม้ง ; ) is an ethnic group recognized by the government of the People's Republic of China as one of the 55 official minority groups. Miao is a Chinese term and does not reflect the self-designations of the component nations of people, which include Hmong, Hmu, A Hmao, and Kho Xiong...

, Mongols
Mongols
Mongols ) are a Central-East Asian ethnic group that lives mainly in the countries of Mongolia, China, and Russia. In China, ethnic Mongols can be found mainly in the central north region of China such as Inner Mongolia...

, Monguor (Tu people), Menba (Monpa), Mosuo
Mosuo
Known to many as the Mosuo , but known often to themselves as the Na, the Mosuo are a small ethnic group living in Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in China, close to the border with Tibet...

, Nakhi
Nakhi
The Nakhi are an ethnic group inhabiting the foothills of the Himalayas in the northwestern part of Yunnan Province, as well as the southwestern part of Sichuan Province in China....

, Qiang, Nu people
Nu people
The Nu people are one of the 56 ethnic groups recognized by the People's Republic of China. Their population of 27,000 is divided into the Northern, Central and Southern groups. Their homeland is a country of high mountains and deep ravines crossed by the Lancang, Dulong and Nujiang rivers...

, Pumi, Salar, and Yi people
Yi people
The Yi or Lolo people are an ethnic group in China, Vietnam, and Thailand. Numbering 8 million, they are the seventh largest of the 55 ethnic minority groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China...

.

The issue of the proportion of the non-Tibetan population in Tibet is politicized by Tibetan exile groups. One of these, the Central Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama, claims that the People's Republic of China has actively swamped Tibet with migrants in order to alter Tibet's demographic makeup. Exact numbers depend on differing definitions of "Tibet", "Tibetans", and "Chinese", although the 2000 Chinese census showed that ethnic Tibetans comprise 92.8% of the Tibet Autonomous Region
Tibet Autonomous Region
The Tibet Autonomous Region , Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China , created in 1965....

.

Culture


Tibetan Buddhism


Religion is extremely important to the Tibetans and has a strong influence over all aspects of their lives. Bön is the ancient religion of Tibet, but has been almost eclipsed by Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

, a distinctive form of Mahayana
Mahayana
Mahāyāna is one of the two main existing branches of Buddhism and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophies and practice...

 and Vajrayana
Vajrayana
Vajrayāna Buddhism is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Vehicle...

, which was introduced into Tibet from the Sanskrit Buddhist tradition of northern India. Tibetan Buddhism is practiced not only in Tibet but also in Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, parts of northern India, the Buryat Republic, the Tuva Republic, and in the Republic of Kalmykia and some other parts of China. During China's Cultural Revolution
Cultural Revolution
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution , was a socio-political movement that took place in the People's Republic of China from 1966 through 1976...

, nearly all Tibet's monasteries were ransacked and destroyed by the Red Guards
Red Guards (China)
Red Guards were a mass movement of civilians, mostly students and other young people in the People's Republic of China , who were mobilized by Mao Zedong in 1966 and 1967, during the Cultural Revolution.-Origins:...

. A few monasteries have begun to rebuild since the 1980s (with limited support from the Chinese government) and greater religious freedom has been granted – although it is still limited. Monks returned to monasteries across Tibet and monastic education resumed even though the number of monks imposed is strictly limited.

Tibetan Buddhism has four main traditions (the suffix pa is comparable to "er" in English):
  • Gelug(pa)
    Gelug
    The Gelug or Gelug-pa , also known as the Yellow Hat sect, is a school of Buddhism founded by Je Tsongkhapa , a philosopher and Tibetan religious leader...

    , Way of Virtue, also known casually as Yellow Hat, whose spiritual head is the Ganden Tripa
    Ganden Tripa
    The Ganden Tripa or Gaden Tripa is the title of the spiritual leader of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, the school which controlled central Tibet from the mid-17th century until 1950s. He is identical with the respective abbot of Ganden Monastery...

     and whose temporal head is the Dalai Lama
    Dalai Lama
    The Dalai Lama is a high lama in the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The name is a combination of the Mongolian word далай meaning "Ocean" and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning "teacher"...

    . Successive Dalai Lamas ruled Tibet from the mid-17th to mid-20th centuries. This order was founded in the 14th to 15th centuries by Je Tsongkhapa
    Je Tsongkhapa
    Tsongkhapa , whose name means “The Man from Onion Valley”, was a famous teacher of Tibetan Buddhism whose activities led to the formation of the Geluk school...

    , based on the foundations of the Kadampa
    Kadampa
    The Kadampa tradition was a Tibetan Mahayana Buddhist school. Dromtönpa, a Tibetan lay master and the foremost disciple of the great Indian Buddhist Master Atisha , founded it and passed three lineages to his disciples. The Kadampa were quite famous and respected for their proper and earnest...

     tradition. Tsongkhapa was renowned for both his scholasticism and his virtue. The Dalai Lama belongs to the Gelugpa school, and is regarded as the embodiment of the Bodhisattva of Compassion.

  • Kagyu(pa)
    Kagyu
    The Kagyu, Kagyupa, or Kagyud school, also known as the "Oral Lineage" or Whispered Transmission school, is today regarded as one of six main schools of Himalayan or Tibetan Buddhism, the other five being the Nyingma, Sakya, Jonang, Bon and Gelug...

    , Oral Lineage. This contains one major subsect and one minor subsect. The first, the Dagpo Kagyu, encompasses those Kagyu schools that trace back to Gampopa
    Gampopa
    Gampopa Sonam Rinchen "Sonam Rinchen from Gampo" — who was equally well known in Tibet as Dagpo Lhaje , Nyamed Dakpo Rinpoche , and Da'od Zhonnu , — establishedthe Kagyu school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism today, as an...

    . In turn, the Dagpo Kagyu consists of four major sub-sects: the Karma Kagyu
    Karma Kagyu
    Karma Kagyu , or Kamtsang Kagyu, is probably the largest and certainly the most widely practiced lineage within the Kagyu school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The lineage has long-standing monasteries in Tibet, China, Russia, Mongolia, India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and current...

    , headed by a Karmapa
    Karmapa
    The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyupa , itself one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism....

    , the Tsalpa Kagyu, the Barom Kagyu, and Pagtru Kagyu. The once-obscure Shangpa Kagyu
    Shangpa Kagyu
    The Shangpa Kagyu is known as the "secret" lineage and differs in origin from the better known Dagpo Kagyu schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Dagpo Kagyud come from the lineage of Tilopa whereas the Shangpa lineage descends from Naropa's consort Niguma as well as Sukhasiddhi...

    , which was famously represented by the 20th century teacher Kalu Rinpoche
    Kalu Rinpoche
    Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche was a Buddhist meditation master, scholar and teacher. He was one of the first Tibetan masters to teach in the West.-Early life and teachers:...

    , traces its history back to the Indian master Niguma, sister of Kagyu lineage holder Naropa
    Naropa
    thumb|right|NaropaNāropā was an Indian Buddhist yogi, mystic and monk. He was the disciple of Tilopa and brother, or some sources say partner and pupil, of Niguma. Naropa was the main teacher of Marpa, the founder of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism...

    . This is an oral tradition which is very much concerned with the experiential dimension of meditation. Its most famous exponent was Milarepa, an 11th century mystic.

  • Nyingma(pa)
    Nyingma
    The Nyingma tradition is the oldest of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism . "Nyingma" literally means "ancient," and is often referred to as Nga'gyur or the "old school" because it is founded on the first translations of Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan, in the eighth century...

    , The Ancient Ones. This is the oldest, the original order founded by Padmasambhava
    Padmasambhava
    Padmasambhava ; Mongolian ловон Бадмажунай, lovon Badmajunai, , Means The Lotus-Born, was a sage guru from Oddiyāna who is said to have transmitted Vajrayana Buddhism to Bhutan and Tibet and neighbouring countries in the 8th century...

    .

  • Sakya(pa)
    Sakya
    The Sakya school is one of four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the others being the Nyingma, Kagyu, and Gelug...

    , Grey Earth, headed by the Sakya Trizin
    Sakya Trizin
    Sakya Trizin or Sa'gya Gongma Rinboqê is the traditional title of the head of the Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism.The Sakya Order of Tibetan Buddhism was founded in 1073, when Khon Konchog Gyalpo , a member of Tibet’s noble Khön family, established a monastery in the region of Sakya, Tibet,...

    , founded by Khon Konchog Gyalpo, a disciple of the great translator Drokmi Lotsawa. Sakya Pandita 1182–1251CE was the great grandson of Khon Konchog Gyalpo. This school emphasizes scholarship.

Islam


Muslims have been living in Tibet since as early as the 8th or 9th century. In Tibetan cities, there are small communities of Muslims, known as Kachee (Kache), who trace their origin to immigrants from three main regions: Kashmir
Kashmir
Kashmir is the northwestern region of the Indian subcontinent. Until the mid-19th century, the term Kashmir geographically denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range...

 (Kachee Yul in ancient Tibetan), Ladakh and the Central Asian Turkic countries. Islamic influence in Tibet also came from Persia. After 1959 a group of Tibetan Muslims made a case for Indian nationality based on their historic roots to Kashmir and the Indian government declared all Tibetan Muslims Indian citizens later on that year. Other Muslim ethnic groups who have long inhabited Tibet include Hui
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

, Salar, Dongxiang
Dongxiang people
The Dongxiang people are one of 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the People's Republic of China...

 and Bonan
Bonan
The Bonan people are an ethnic group living in Gansu and Qinghai provinces in northwestern China...

. There is also a well established Chinese Muslim community (gya kachee), which traces its ancestry back to the Hui
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 ethnic group of China.

Christianity


The first Christians documented to have reached Tibet were the Nestorians, of whom various remains and inscriptions have been found in Tibet. They were also present at the imperial camp of Möngke Khan
Möngke Khan
Möngke Khan , born Möngke, , was the fourth Great Khan of the Mongol Empire from July 1, 1251 – August 11, 1259. He was the first Great Khan from the Toluid line, and made significant reforms to improve the administration of the Empire during his reign...

 at Shira Ordo, where they debated in 1256 with Karma Pakshi
Karma Pakshi
Karma Pakshi was the 2nd Gyalwa Karmapa. He was a child prodigy who had already acquired a broad understanding of Dharma philosophy and meditation by the age of ten. His teacher, Pomdrakpa, had received the full Kagyu transmission from Drogon Rechen, the first Karmapa's spiritual heir...

 (1204/6-83), head of the Karma Kagyu
Karma Kagyu
Karma Kagyu , or Kamtsang Kagyu, is probably the largest and certainly the most widely practiced lineage within the Kagyu school, one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The lineage has long-standing monasteries in Tibet, China, Russia, Mongolia, India, Nepal, and Bhutan, and current...

 order. Desideri, who reached Lhasa in 1716, encountered Armenian and Russian merchants.

Roman Catholic Jesuits and Capuchins
Order of Friars Minor Capuchin
The Order of Friars Minor Capuchin is an Order of friars in the Catholic Church, among the chief offshoots of the Franciscans. The worldwide head of the Order, called the Minister General, is currently Father Mauro Jöhri.-Origins :...

 arrived from Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries. Portuguese missionaries Jesuit Father Antonio de Andrade
António de Andrade
Father António de Andrade was a Jesuit priest and explorer from Portugal. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1596. From 1600 until his death in 1634 he was engaged in missionary activity in India...

 and Brother Manuel Marques first reached the kingdom of Gelu
Gelu
Gelu may refer to:*Gelu, Nepal* Gelu, a district of Satu Mare city, Romania* Gelu, a village in Terebeşti Commune, Satu Mare County, Romania* Gelu, a village in Variaş Commune, Timiş County, Romania...

in western Tibet in 1624 and was welcomed by the royal family who allowed them to build a church later on. By 1627, there were about a hundred local converts in the Guge kingdom. Later on, Christianity was introduced to Rudok, Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

 and Tsang and was welcomed by the ruler of the Tsang kingdom
Ü-Tsang
Ü-Tsang , or Tsang-Ü, is one of the three traditional provinces of Tibet, the other two being Amdo and Kham. Geographically Ü-Tsang covered the central and western portions of the Tibetan cultural area, including the Tsang-po watershed, the western districts surrounding and extending past Mount...

, where Andrade and his fellows established a Jesuit outpost at Shigatse in 1626.

In 1661 another Jesuit, Johann Grueber
Johann Grueber
Johann Grueber was an Austrian Jesuit missionary and astronomer in China, and noted explorer.-Life:...

, crossed Tibet from Sining to Lhasa (where he spent a month), before heading on to Nepal. He was followed by others who actually built a church in Lhasa. These included the Jesuit Father Ippolito Desideri
Ippolito Desideri
Ippolito Desideri was an Italian Jesuit missionary in Tibet and the first European to have successfully studied and understood Tibetan language and culture.-Biography:...

, 1716–1721, who gained a deep knowledge of Tibetan culture, language and Buddhism, and various Capuchins in 1707–1711, 1716–1733 and 1741–1745, Christianity was used by some Tibetan monarchs and their courts and the Karmapa
Karmapa
The Karmapa is the head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyupa , itself one of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism....

 sect lamas to counterbalance the influence of the Gelugpa sect in the 17th century until in 1745 when all the missionaries were expelled at the lama's insistence.

In 1877, the Protestant James Cameron from the China Inland Mission
China Inland Mission
OMF International is an interdenominational Protestant Christian missionary society, founded in Britain by Hudson Taylor on 25 June 1865.-Overview:...

 walked from Chongqing
Chongqing
Chongqing is a major city in Southwest China and one of the five national central cities of China. Administratively, it is one of the PRC's four direct-controlled municipalities , and the only such municipality in inland China.The municipality was created on 14 March 1997, succeeding the...

 to Batang
Batang County
Batang County is a county located in western Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan Province, People's Republic of China. Government address: Xiaqiong Town, Batang County, Ganzi, Sichuan 627650. Area code: 0836...

 in Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture
Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture is an autonomous prefecture in Sichuan whose capital is Kangding . It is sometimes spelled as "Kardze" by non-government sources....

, Sichuan province, and "brought the Gospel to the Tibetan people." Beginning in the 20th century, in Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan, a large number of Lisu people and some Yi and Nu people converted to Christianity. Famous earlier missionaries include James O. Fraser
James O. Fraser
James Outram Fraser was a British Protestant Christian missionary to China with the China Inland Mission. He pioneered work among the Lisu people of Southwestern China in the early part of the 20th century.- First years in Yunnan:...

, Alfred James Broomhall
Alfred James Broomhall
Alfred James Broomhall , a.k.a. A. J. Broomhall, was a British Protestant Christian medical missionary to China, and author and historian of the China Inland Mission .-Chinese roots:“Jim” Broomhall was born in Chefoo , Shandong, China, in 1911,...

 and Isobel Kuhn of the China Inland Mission, among others who were active in this area.

Tibetan art



Tibetan representations of art are intrinsically bound with Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

 and commonly depict deities or variations of Buddha
Gautama Buddha
Siddhārtha Gautama was a spiritual teacher from the Indian subcontinent, on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. In most Buddhist traditions, he is regarded as the Supreme Buddha Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम; Pali: Siddhattha Gotama) was a spiritual teacher from the Indian...

 in various forms from bronze Buddhist statues and shrines, to highly colorful thangka
Thangka
A "Thangka," also known as "Tangka", "Thanka" or "Tanka" is a Tibetan silk painting with embroidery, usually depicting a Buddhist deity, famous scene, or mandala of some sort. The thankga is not a flat creation like an oil painting or acrylic painting...

 paintings and mandala
Mandala
Maṇḍala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle". In the Buddhist and Hindu religious traditions their sacred art often takes a mandala form. The basic form of most Hindu and Buddhist mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point...

s.

Architecture


Tibetan architecture contains Chinese and Indian influences, and reflects a deeply Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel
Dharmacakra
The Dharmachakra , lit. "Wheel of Dharma" or "Wheel of Life" is a symbol that has represented dharma, the Buddha's teaching of the path to enlightenment, since the early period of Indian Buddhism. A similar symbol is also in use in Jainism...

, along with two dragons, can be seen on nearly every Gompa
Gompa
Gompa and ling are Buddhist ecclesiastical fortifications of learning, lineage and sadhana , located in Tibet, India, Nepal, and Bhutan...

 in Tibet. The design of the Tibetan Chörtens can vary, from roundish walls in Kham
Kham
Kham , is a historical region covering a land area largely divided between present-day Tibetan Autonomous Region and Sichuan province, with smaller portions located within Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces of China. During the Republic of China's rule over mainland China , most of the region was...

 to squarish, four-sided walls in Ladakh
Ladakh
Ladakh is a region of Jammu and Kashmir, the northernmost state of the Republic of India. It lies between the Kunlun mountain range in the north and the main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent...

.

The most distinctive feature of Tibetan architecture is that many of the houses and monasteries are built on elevated, sunny sites facing the south, and are often made out of a mixture of rocks, wood, cement and earth. Little fuel is available for heat or lighting, so flat roofs are built to conserve heat, and multiple windows are constructed to let in sunlight. Walls are usually sloped inwards at 10 degrees as a precaution against the frequent earthquakes in this mountainous area.

Standing at 117 meters in height and 360 meters in width, the Potala Palace
Potala Palace
The Potala Palace is located in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It was named after Mount Potala, the abode of Chenresig or Avalokitesvara...

 is the most important example of Tibetan architecture. Formerly the residence of the Dalai Lama
Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama is a high lama in the Gelug or "Yellow Hat" branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The name is a combination of the Mongolian word далай meaning "Ocean" and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning "teacher"...

, it contains over one thousand rooms within thirteen stories, and houses portraits of the past Dalai Lamas and statues of the Buddha. It is divided between the outer White Palace, which serves as the administrative quarters, and the inner Red Quarters, which houses the assembly hall of the Lamas, chapels, 10,000 shrines, and a vast library of Buddhist scriptures. The Potala Palace is a World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

, as is Norbulingka
Norbulingka
Norbulingka is a palace and surrounding park in Lhasa, Tibet, built from 1755. It served as the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas from the 1780s up until the 14th Dalai Lama's exile in 1959...

, the former summer residence of the Dalai Lama.

Music


The music of Tibet reflects the cultural heritage of the trans-Himalayan region, centered in Tibet but also known wherever ethnic Tibetan
Tibetan people
The Tibetan people are an ethnic group that is native to Tibet, which is mostly in the People's Republic of China. They number 5.4 million and are the 10th largest ethnic group in the country. Significant Tibetan minorities also live in India, Nepal, and Bhutan...

 groups are found in India, Bhutan
Bhutan
Bhutan , officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia, located at the eastern end of the Himalayas and bordered to the south, east and west by the Republic of India and to the north by the People's Republic of China...

, Nepal and further abroad. First and foremost Tibetan music is religious music
Religious music
Religious music is music performed or composed for religious use or through religious influence.A lot of music has been composed to complement religion, and many composers have derived inspiration from their own religion. Many forms of traditional music have been adapted to fit religions'...

, reflecting the profound influence of Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism is the body of Buddhist religious doctrine and institutions characteristic of Tibet and certain regions of the Himalayas, including northern Nepal, Bhutan, and India . It is the state religion of Bhutan...

 on the culture.

Tibetan music often involves chanting in Tibetan
Tibetan language
The Tibetan languages are a cluster of mutually-unintelligible Tibeto-Burman languages spoken primarily by Tibetan peoples who live across a wide area of eastern Central Asia bordering the Indian subcontinent, including the Tibetan Plateau and the northern Indian subcontinent in Baltistan, Ladakh,...

 or Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

, as an integral part of the religion. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts or in celebration of various festivals. Yang
Yang
Yang may refer to:* Yang, in yin and yang, the word for one half of the two opposing forces in Chinese philosophy, described as "bright positive masculine principle" in Chinese dualistic cosmology* Yang County, in Shaanxi, China...

chanting, performed without metrical timing, is accompanied by resonant drums and low, sustained syllables. Other styles include those unique to the various schools of Tibetan Buddhism, such as the classical music of the popular Gelugpa school, and the romantic music of the Nyingmapa, Sakyapa and Kagyupa schools.

Nangma
Nangma
Nangma is a genre of Tibetan dance music closely related to Toeshey. The word Nangma derives from the Persian word Naghma meaning melody. Both a band and a nightclub have been named after it. "Nangma" is the name of a four-person, traditional Tibetan band dedicated to these two styles of music...

 dance music is especially popular in the karaoke
Karaoke
is a form of interactive entertainment or video game in which amateur singers sing along with recorded music using a microphone and public address system. The music is typically a well-known pop song minus the lead vocal. Lyrics are usually displayed on a video screen, along with a moving symbol,...

 bars of the urban center of Tibet, Lhasa
Lhasa
Lhasa is the administrative capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China and the second most populous city on the Tibetan Plateau, after Xining. At an altitude of , Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world...

. Another form of popular music is the classical gar style, which is performed at rituals and ceremonies. Lu
Lu (music)
Lu is a Tibetan style of folk music of a cappella songs, which are distinctively high in pitch with glottal vibrations.-External links:* of lu music...

 are a type of songs that feature glottal vibrations and high pitches. There are also epic bards who sing of Gesar, who is a hero to ethnic Tibetans.

Festivals



Tibet has various festivals which are commonly performed to worship the Buddha throughout the year. Losar
Losar
Losar is the Tibetan word for "new year." lo holds the semantic field "year, age"; sar holds the semantic field "new, fresh". Losar is the most important holiday in Tibet....

 is the Tibetan New Year Festival. Preparations for the festive event are manifested by special offerings to family shrine deities, painted doors with religious symbols, and other painstaking jobs done to prepare for the event. Tibetans eat Guthuk (barley crumb food with filling) on New Year's Eve with their families. The Monlam Prayer Festival follows it in the first month of the Tibetan calendar
Tibetan calendar
The Tibetan calendar is a lunisolar calendar, that is, the Tibetan year is composed of either 12 or 13 lunar months, each beginning and ending with a new moon. A thirteenth month is added every two or three years, so that an average Tibetan year is equal to the solar year.The Tibetan New Year...

, falling on the fourth up to the eleventh day of the first Tibetan month. which involves many Tibetans dancing and participating in sports events and sharing picnics. The event was established in 1049 by Tsong Khapa, the founder of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama's order.

Cuisine


The most important crop in Tibet is barley
Barley
Barley is a major cereal grain, a member of the grass family. It serves as a major animal fodder, as a base malt for beer and certain distilled beverages, and as a component of various health foods...

, and dough made from barley flour—called tsampa
Tsampa
Tsampa is a Tibetan staple foodstuff, particularly prominent in the central part of the region. It is roasted flour, usually barley flour and sometimes also wheat flour or rice flour...

—is the staple food
Staple food
A staple food is one that is eaten regularly and in such quantities that it constitutes a dominant portion of a diet, and that supplies a high proportion of energy and nutrient needs. Most people live on a diet based on one or more staples...

 of Tibet. This is either rolled into noodles or made into steamed dumplings called momos
Momo (food)
Momo is a type of pastry native to Nepal as well as among the Tibetans. It is similar to the Mongolian buuz or the Chinese jiaozi.The Tibetan word momo is a loanword from the Chinese mómo .-Production:...

. Meat dishes are likely to be yak
Yak
The yak, Bos grunniens or Bos mutus, is a long-haired bovine found throughout the Himalayan region of south Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia. In addition to a large domestic population, there is a small, vulnerable wild yak population...

, goat, or mutton
Lamb (food)
Lamb, mutton, and hogget are the meat of domestic sheep. The meat of a sheep in its first year is lamb; that of a juvenile sheep older than 1 year is hogget; and the meat of an adult sheep is mutton....

, often dried, or cooked into a spicy stew
Stew
A stew is a combination of solid food ingredients that have been cooked in liquid and served in the resultant gravy. Ingredients in a stew can include any combination of vegetables , meat, especially tougher meats suitable for slow-cooking, such as beef. Poultry, sausages, and seafood are also used...

 with potatoes. Mustard seed
Mustard seed
Mustard seeds are the small round seeds of various mustard plants. The seeds are usually about 1 or 2 mm in diameter. Mustard seeds may be colored from yellowish white to black. They are important spices in many regional foods. The seeds can come from three different plants: black mustard , brown...

 is cultivated in Tibet, and therefore features heavily in its cuisine. Yak yoghurt
Yoghurt
Yoghurt, yogurt or yogourt is a dairy product produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make yoghurt are known as "yoghurt cultures"...

, butter and cheese are frequently eaten, and well-prepared yoghurt is considered something of a prestige item. Butter tea
Butter tea
Butter tea, also known as po cha , cha süma , Mandarin Chinese: sūyóu chá or goor goor in local Ladakhi terms, is a drink of the Tibetans and Chinese minorities in southwestern China. It is also consumed in Bhutan. It is made from tea leaves, yak butter, and salt.-Usage:Drinking butter tea is a...

 is very popular to drink.

Further reading

  • Allen, Charles (2004). Duel in the Snows: The True Story of the Younghusband Mission to Lhasa. London: John Murray. ISBN 0-7195-5427-6.
  • Bell, Charles (1924). Tibet: Past & Present. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  • Dowman, Keith (1988). The Power-Places of Central Tibet: The Pilgrim's Guide. Routledge & Kegan Paul. London, ISBN 0-7102-1370-0. New York, ISBN 0-14-019118-6.
  • Feigon, Lee. (1998). Demystifying Tibet: unlocking the secrets of the land of the snows. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. ISBN 1-56663-196-3. 1996 hardback, ISBN 1-56663-089-4
  • Gyatso, Palden (1997). The Autobiography of a Tibetan Monk. Grove Press. NY, NY. ISBN 0-8021-3574-9
  • Human Rights in China: China, Minority Exclusion, Marginalization and Rising Tensions, London, Minority Rights Group International, 2007
  • Le Sueur, Alec (2001). The Hotel on the Roof of the World
    The Hotel on the Roof of the World
    The Hotel on the Roof of the World is a humorous account by Alec Le Sueur of the attempt to manage the infamous Holiday Inn Lhasa in Tibet in the late 1980s and early 1990s...

     – Five Years in Tibet. Chichester: Summersdale. ISBN 978-1840241990. Oakland: RDR Books. ISBN 978-1571431011
  • McKay, Alex (1997). Tibet and the British Raj: The Frontier Cadre 1904–1947. London: Curzon. ISBN 0-7007-0627-5.
  • Norbu, Thubten Jigme; Turnbull, Colin (1968). Tibet: Its History, Religion and People. Reprint: Penguin Books (1987).
  • Pachen, Ani; Donnely, Adelaide (2000). Sorrow Mountain: The Journey of a Tibetan Warrior Nun. Kodansha America, Inc. ISBN 1-56836-294-3.
  • Petech, Luciano (1997). China and Tibet in the Early XVIIIth Century: History of the Establishment of Chinese Protectorate in Tibet. T'oung Pao Monographies, Brill Academic Publishers, ISBN 90-04-03442-0.
  • Samuel, Geoffrey (1993). Civilized Shamans: Buddhism in Tibetan Societies. Smithsonian ISBN 1-56098-231-4.
  • Schell, Orville (2000). Virtual Tibet: Searching for Shangri-La from the Himalayas to Hollywood. Henry Holt. ISBN 0-8050-4381-0. – (online version)
  • Thurman, Robert (2002). Robert Thurman on Tibet. DVD. ASIN B00005Y722.
  • Van Walt van Praag, Michael C. (1987). The Status of Tibet: History, Rights, and Prospects in International Law. Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press.
  • Wilby, Sorrel (1988). Journey Across Tibet: A Young Woman's 1900 miles (3,057.7 km) Trek Across the Rooftop of the World. Contemporary Books. ISBN 0-8092-4608-2.
  • Wilson, Brandon (2004). Yak Butter Blues: A Tibetan Trek of Faith. Pilgrim's Tales. ISBN 0-9770536-6-0, ISBN 0-9770536-7-9. (second edition 2005)
  • Wang Jiawei (2000). The Historical Status of China's Tibet. ISBN-7-80113-304-8.
  • Tibet wasn't always ours, says Chinese scholar by Venkatesan Vembu, Daily News & Analysis, February 22, 2007
  • Wylie, Turrell V. "The First Mongol Conquest of Tibet Reinterpreted", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies (Volume 37, Number 1, June 1977)

External links