Tibet is a remote and landlocked
plateau region in the Himalayas in South Asia, known to the
world as The Roof of the World. The autonomous region of
Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China and is
consistently the highest place on earth, averaging 4,900m
elevation. China has always maintained a presence in Tibet
and under various dynasties, claimed rule and influence.
Although Beijing now run Tibet as an autonomous region of
China, many Tibetan people maintain allegiance to their
spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is currently in exile.
China today are under the spotlight for violating human
rights issues in Tibet, even as China says that under their
rule, Tibet is developing considerably.
Tibet is nestled between Nepal, China and India, Bhutan and
Myanmar. Tibet has Mount Everest, on the border with Nepal,
the holy Mount Kailash and several others of the world’s
highest mountains. Also in the region are the sources of
some of Asia major rivers including Yangtze, Indus River,
Mekong Ganges, Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) and the Yellow
River. Such huge amounts of water in Tibet give it the name
Water Tower of Asia, with China (not surprisingly) being
interested in developing new water projects there. Lakes at
high altitudes are common in Tibet, such as Manasarovar
Lake, Namtso, Yamdrok, Qinghai and Paiku Lake.
Tibet is dry, with snow-fall for nine months of the year and
Western Tibet is bleak, windy and cold. In Eastern Tibet,
the monsoons of India exert a certain influence. Northern
Tibet has the greatest climate difference with hot summers
and very cold winters.
Under constant control and pressure, Tibet remains a largely
isolated region and its economy is dominated by subsistence
agriculture. Forest and grassland occupy large territories
in Tibet so agriculture really is a key to their economic
stability. In terms of prosperity, tourism is acting as an
important revenue earner.
Home to the Tibetan people along with several indigenous
groups such as the Qiang, the Lhobas and the Monpas. Just as
there are six bands on the Tibetan flag, originally it is
claimed that Tibetans descend from six ethnic groups; the
Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru and Ra. However there are many other
groups documented in the history of Tibet. In terms of
ethnic identity, the Tibetan culture stays strong even in
the face of Chinese oppression and the encouraged migration
of Chinese into Tibet to alter this ethnic makeup. The
population of Tibet is 3million people, mostly made up of
Tibetans but with other ethnicities such as Han, Monpa and
Hui. Buddhism is the dominant way of life in Tibet,
otherwise Bön and Islam are the other major religions in
this region. The languages in Tibet are described as being
very difficult and varied, with the main ones being Tibetan,
Dzongkha, Sherpa, Ladakhi and Amdo. Of the 800 settlements
in Tibet, Lhasa is the most populous and the capital of
Tibet with the Potala Palace and Norbulingka as the
residences of the Dalai Lama being world heritage sites.
Shigatse is the second largest city, with Gyantse and Qamdo
Although strictly controlled by the Chinese government,
Tibet’s culture remains unique and strong. Tourism in Tibet
is a huge source of income but also has a negative side,
being where the money goes to.