itself as an independent state and at other times has had various levels of association with
China then took complete control of Tibet, installing a sympathetic Tibetan ruler and, in
1965, replacing with a Communist administration (Encarta 1).
by Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province; on the east by Sichuan and
Yunnan provinces; on the south by Myanmar (formally known as Burma), India, Bhutan,
With an average elevation of more than 12,000 feet, Tibet is the highest region on
in Tibet live at elevations ranging from 3,900 feet to 16,700 feet. Tibet is also one of the
Range on the west, and the Kunlun Mountains on the north (Encarta 1).
The southern part of Tibet is situated entirely within the Himalayas, and many of
the world’s highest summits are located in the Himalayan chain, which extends along
Tibet’s southern frontier. Among the peaks are Mount Everest(29,028 feet), the world’s
largest mountain; Namcha Barwa(25,445 feet); and Gurla Mandhata(25,354 feet). The
Kailas Range, a chain of the Himalayas, lies parallel to and north of the main chain and
has peaks of up to 22,000 feet. Between the Kailas Range and the main chain is a river
valley that extends about 600 miles. The Brahmaputra River (known in Tibet as the
Yarlung Zangbo) flows from west to east through most of this valley (Encarta 1).
The mountains in Tibet form Asia’s principal watershed, or dividing line, between
westward-flowing and eastward-flowing streams, and Tibet is the source of the continent’s
major rivers. The Brahmaputra is Tibet’s most important river. The Indus, Ganges, and
Sutlej rivers have their headwaters in western Tibet. Many of Tibet’s rivers have potential
for hydroelectric development (Encarta 1).
Vegetation on the Tibetan Plateau is extremely sparse, consisting mainly of grasses
and shrubs. Scattered wooded areas occur in extreme west and east. Most vegetation,
however, is concentrated in Brahmaputra, Indus, and Sutlej river valleys. These areas
Apple, peach, pear, and apricot trees are cultivated in the valleys (Encarta 1).
donkeys, yaks, and Tibetan antelope are common in mountainous areas. Other large
geese, gulls, teal, and other species of waterfowl, and also pheasants and sand grouse
Tibet has a dry, cold climate with an average annual temperature of 34 degrees
Fahrenheit. It is very bitter in Tibet in the winter (Harrer 39). Temperatures in the
mountains and plateaus are especially cold, and strong winds are common year round. The
river valleys experience a more moderate climate. Lhasa and central Tibet have an average
temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit in December and an average of 60 degrees
temperature can rise from 37 degrees Fahrenheit before sunrise to 81 degrees Fahrenheit
The average annual precipitation is 15 inches (Encarta 2).
found in many areas, and significant deposits of iron ore, coal, salt, and borax are also
mining chromite, tinkalite, and boromagnesite; constructing hydroelectric and geothermal
density of 4.7 persons per square mile, the lowest of any region in China. The vast majority
nomadic or seminomadic. Lhasa, the capital and largest city, is Tibet’s principal center of
Most people in Tibet are ethnic Tibetans, and the largest minority is Han Chinese,
population was Han Chinese; however, this and other population figures are believed to be
in complete, as they do not include the much larger number of Han who have come to Tibet
looking for work opportunities and have not officially registered as residents (Encarta 2).
Most people in Tibet speak Tibetan, a language of the Tibeto-Burman subfamily of
Putonghua (Mandarin) Chinese, China’s official language, is also used, particularly by Han
use of Tibetan within the legal system (Encarta 2).
Buddhism was introduced into Tibet from India, originally in the 7th century, and then,
after a period of persecution, it was reintroduced in the 11th century (Encarta 2).
Historically, religion permeated every aspect of Tibetan life. The only educational
system was religious, all cultural and intellectual activities were centered around religious
beliefs, and the heads of government were Buddhist monks (Encarta 2).
Today Buddhism is practiced widely in Tibet. Many monasteries and other religious
buildings have been rebuilt, and monks and nuns are once again openly practicing their
religion (Encarta 2).
people were literate. Most Tibetan monks were taught to memorize religious scriptures
rather than read them. The Chinese introduced secular, formal state schooling in 1952. By
estimated at about 50 percent. Tibetan is the language of instruction in lower grades,
shifting to Putonghua in later years. In the mid-1990s Tibet had four institutions of higher
Since assuming control in the 1950s, the Chinese Communist administration has
and diversified. As a result, Tibetans in urban areas now enjoy considerably more material
improvement has occurred in rural areas (Encarta 3).
Tibet remains one of the poorest regions in China, particularly its rural areas. In the
mid-1990s the average annual per capita income for city dwellers was about $120, while
rural people earned about half that amount. Although the Chinese government contributes
subsidies to help offset Tibet?s low standard of living, controversy has developed over who
benefits from this aid (Encarta 3).
Subsistence agriculture dominates the Tibetan economy. Productive land,
concentrated mostly in the river valleys, is limited in area. The principal subsistence crops
are barley, wheat, buckwheat, rye, potatoes, and various vegetables and fruits. Cotton,
soybeans, walnuts, tea, and hemp are grown as commercial crops. Livestock raising is the
primary occupation of the Tibetan Plateau region. In addition to sheep, cattle, and goats,
the herds include camels, yaks, horses, and other beasts of burden (Encarta 3).
The region?s manufacturing sector has expanded since 1959 but remains limited to
small-scale enterprises producing such goods as textiles and electrical equipment. The
production of local handicrafts constitutes a major supply of income. Craft items include
woolen carpets, fabrics, aprons, quilts, clothing, furniture, wooden bowls, gold and silver
jewelry, and Tibetan hats (Encarta 3).
which did not exist before 1950, has grown to about 14,000 miles. A trans-Tibetan highway
now runs from west to east. Other highways connect the region with Xinjiang and Qinghai
to the north, Sichuan to the east, and Nepal and India to the south. Tibet has two
commercial airports; the more important one is located near Lhasa. Since the 1980s
tourism has become an important source of revenue in Tibet. Most visitors stay in the
Lhasa area, although Xigaz? and the base camp of Mount Everest are also popular sites
Tibet is officially an autonomous region of China, which means that an ethnic
the central government in Beijing. Ethnic Tibetans comprise about 70 percent of
government cadres (administrators) in Tibet. The most powerful officials in Tibet,
including the head of the local Communist Party office, are typically Han Chinese (Encarta
The Chinese ruled Tibet, but it decreased, and Britain tried to take over but failed.
In the 18th century Tibet came under the control of China. However, in the course of the
following century, Chinese authority diminished steadily. Meanwhile, British colonial
officials in India, including administrator Warren Hastings, attempted to secure a foothold
in the region. These efforts proved unsuccessful, mainly because of Tibetan resentment of
The Panchen Lama is reinstated, so China announces reforms, but they were
violent, and the Panchen Lama refused to renounce Tibet’s independence. In 1978 the
Panchen Lama, who had been jailed in 1964 for criticizing Chinese rule of Tibet, was
reinstated to his official positions. He appealed repeatedly to the Dalai Lama to return to
Tibet. In 1980 the Chinese admitted that Tibet had been misgoverned and announced
reforms for the region. Tibetans found the reforms insufficient, and violent demonstrations
protesting Chinese rule occurred in October 1987. In 1988 negotiations between the
Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama, which had taken place
periodically over the previous decade, broke off. The Dalai Lama refused to publicly
renounce Tibetan independence, and China refused to compromise on the issue of greater
autonomy for Tibet (Encarta 4). In 1993 more demonstrations by Tibetans took place, in
addition to several acts of terrorism against the Chinese.
Lama. The search committee identified 28 possible candidates and conveyed that
information to the Dalai Lama in India. The Dalai Lama selected one boy, a six-year-old
named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, as the 11th Panchen Lama. The Chinese government,
it had allegedly played in the selection process of previous Panchen and Dalai Lamas. They
inaugurated their own candidate, a six-year-old named Gyaincain Norbu. They held
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family in detention and began a renewed campaign to
discredit the Dalai Lama. Fresh rumblings erupted within the Tibetan independence
movement. In May 1996 the Chinese began a crackdown on Tibetan monasteries that
resulted in the injury and death of several monks. According to some experts, talks
resumed secretly between the Dalai Lama and Chinese government officials in late 1996,
only to break off several months later when China sentenced the leader of the Panchen
for the Panchen Lama was jailed.
Harrer, Heinrich. Seven Years In Tibet. New York: Penguin Putnam Inc., 1953.
Tibet. [United States]:n.p., n.d.