Sunday, July 27, 2008



Here are three differentiating characteristics:

1) Tibet has an average elevation of 16,000 ft, the highest region on Earth, a plateau region in Central Asia, and is often referred to as the “Roof of the World”

2) Several rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau, the Yangtze, Yellow, Indus, Mekong, Brahmaputra, Ganges, Salween and Yarlung Tsangpo. Their glaciers provide Asia with much of its water.*

3) The Tibet Autonomous Region’s population of 5,400,000 is 0.5 percent of China’s population.*

Here are three historical and geographical facts:

1) Tibet’s general history begins (604-50 CE) with the rule of Songtsan Gampo who
ruled Tibet as a kingdom and united parts of the Yarlung River Valley. If we jump to 1751, Chinese Emperor Qianlong installed Dalai Lama as the spiritual and political leader of Tibet.
Since 1951, Tibet has been under China’s control, considered the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), although India and Republic of China (formerly Taiwan) also claim part.
On March 10, 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, India where there are now with him thousands of Tibetan monks and supporters in favor of Tibetan cultural autonomy.
Repeatedly, the Dalai Lama has exhorted for Tibetan autonomy from the Chinese “to protect their culture”.

2) “The issue of the proportion of the Han Chinese population in Tibet is a politically sensitive one” (from Wikipedia). While the population of Tibet is primarily Tibetans, other groups include Menba (monpa), Lhoba, Mongols and Hui Chinese. There are also many Tibetan dialects, such as Kham, Amdo, Sherpa. China will not allow independent human rights organizations into Tibet or to meet with Tibetans. (Many Tibetans cannot understand each other’s dialects). According to USA Today (Aug 5, 2008), thousands of Tibetans are now "undergoing "patriotic education" campaigns to denounce the Dalai Lama".

3) The Tibetan Plateau includes the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest on Nepal’s border. Lhasa is the capital city and contains Potala Palace, most important example of Tibetan architecture. Lhasa has this 1,000 room former palace of the Dalai Lama (though smaller than the over 8, 700 room Palace of the Forbidden City in Beijing*) and his summer residence, Norbulingka. Lhasa also contains significant temples and monasteries, Jokhand and Ramoche. Shigatse, Gyantse and Chamdo are among the next largest cities.

Here are three economic facts:

The Tibetan economy is dominated by subsistence farming, of livestock raising and crops of barley and wheat. Tourism brings in the most income from the sale of handicrafts and is actively promoted by authorities. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, the first to link the region (to China) was opened in 2006. There are thought to be many undeveloped minerals in the mountains.

2) Unemployment is high and an unequal taxation system worsens poverty in rural areas.

3) By the 1850s Tibet had banned all foreigners and has denied Tibetans most rights, such as self-determination, freedom of speech, assembly, movement, expression, travel. Access to housing, education and health remain unfulfilled. It ranks lowest of China’s 31 provinces , and ranked 153 of 160 countries on the Human Development Index.

Here are three general facts about Tibet:

1) Bon, the ancient religion of Tibet is extremely important to their daily lives. Tantric Buddhism is also practiced.

2) Tibetan music is religious and involves chanting in Tibetan or Sanskrit.

3) “Tibet” is derived possibly from the Arabic Tubbat ( derived via Persian from the Turkic Toban for “the heights”) , or from the people of northeast Tibet, the Tubut, or the Muslim writers from the 9thC Tubbett, Tibbat, or the People’s Republic of China, tubo. Many Tibetans go by one name only.




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