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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 following.

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.

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