|width=20% height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff align="right"||height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff||Tibet Autonomous Region within the People's Republic of China|
|width=20% height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff align="right"||height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff||Historic Tibet as claimed by Tibetan exile groups|
|width=20% height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff align="right"||height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff||Tibetan areas as designated by the People's Republic of China|
|width=20% height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff align="right"||height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff||Chinese-controlled areas claimed by India as part of Aksai Chin|
|width=20% height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff align="right"||height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff||Indian-controlled areas claimed by China as part of Tibet|
|width=20% height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff align="right"||height=15px bgcolor=#ffffff||Other areas historically within Tibetan cultural sphere|
Tibet ( ; IPA: pʰø̀ʔ; ) is a plateau region in Asia, north of the Himalayas, and the home to the indigenous Tibetan people and its related ethnic groups. With an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft), it is the highest region on Earth and has in recent decades increasingly been referred to as the "Roof of the World". Before Tibet got into the limelight, the term Roof of the World was applied to the Pamirs.
In the history of Tibet, it has been an independent country , divided into different kingdoms and states, and a part of China each for a certain amount of time. Today it is part of the People's Republic of China (PRC) while a small part, according to the government of the People's Republic of China, the government of the Republic of China is controlled by India. Currently, the PRC government and the Government of Tibet in Exile still disagree over when Tibet became a part of China, and whether the incorporation into China of Tibet is legitimate according to international law (see Tibetan sovereignty debate). Since what constitutes Tibet is a matter of much debate (see map, right) neither its size nor population are simple matters of fact, due to various entities claiming differing parts of the area as a Tibetan region.
A unified Tibet first came into being under Songtsän Gampo in the seventh century. A government headed by the Dalai Lamas, a line of spiritual leaders, nominally ruled a large portion of the Tibetan region at various times from the 1640s until its incorporation into the government of PRC in the 1950s. During most of this period, the Tibetan administration was subordinate to the Chinese empire of the Qing China. After the fall of Qing, the Dalai Lama proclaimed Tibet independence in 1913, however, it was not accepted by the successor state of Qing, the newly founded Republic of China. Furthermore, Tibet was not recognized by any country as a de jure independent nation. As a measure of the power that regents must have wielded, it is important to note that only three of the fourteen Dalai Lamas have actually ruled Tibet; regents ruled during 77 percent of the period from 1751 until 1960. After the Chinese Civil War, the PRC began asserting control of Tibet with its 1950 invasion. The Communist Party of China gained control of Central and Western Tibet (Tibetan area ruled by the Dalai Lama) after a decisive military victory at Chamdo in 1950. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959.
The two Standard Mandarin exonyms for "Tibet" are classical Tǔbō or Tǔfān 吐蕃 and modern Xīzàng 西藏 (which now specifies the "Tibet Autonomous Region"). Tubo or Tufan "ancient name for Tibet" was first transliterated into Chinese characters as 土番 in the 7th-century (Li Tai) and as 吐蕃 in the 10th-century (Book of Tang describing 608-609 emissaries from Tibetan King Namri Songtsen to Emperor Yang of Sui). In the Middle Chinese spoken during that period, Tǔbō or Tǔfān are reconstructed (by Bernhard Karlgren) as T'uopuâ and T'uop'i̭wɐn. Xizang 西藏 was coined during the Qing Dynasty period of the Jiaqing Emperor (r. 1796-1820). The People's Republic of China government equates Xīzàng with the Xīzàng Zìzhìqū 西藏自治区 "Tibet Autonomous Region".
The English word Tibet or Thibet dates back to 1827. While historical linguists generally agree that "Tibet" names in European languages are loanwords from Arabic Tibat or Tobatt, they disagree over the original etymology. Many sources propose Tibetan Stod-bod (pronounced tö-bhöt) "Upper Tibet", some suggest Turkic Töbäd "The Heights" (plural of töbän), and a few favor Chinese Tǔbō or Tǔfān.
See main article: Tibetan language.
The Tibetan language is generally classified 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:
From the perspective of historical linguistics, Tibetan most closely resembles Burmese 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, although sometimes mutually intelligible, generally cannot be understood by the speakers of the different oral forms of Tibetan. It is employed throughout the Tibetan plateau and Bhutan and is also spoken in parts of Nepal and northern India, such as Sikkim. In general, the dialects of central Tibet (including Lhasa), Kham, Amdo and some smaller nearby areas are considered Tibetan dialects. Other forms, particularly Dzongkha, Sikkimese, Sherpa, and Ladakhi, 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 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, 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 in the west to Yunnan and Sichuan in the east, and from north of the Kokonor lake (Qinghai) south as far as Bhutan. The Tibetan language has its own script that it shares with Ladakhi and Dzongkha, which is derived from the ancient Indian Brahmi script.
See main article: History of Tibet.
The general history of Tibet begins with the rule of Songtsän Gampo (604–50 CE) who united parts of the Yarlung River Valley and ruled Tibet as a kingdom. He also brought in many reforms and Tibetan power spread rapidly creating a large and powerful empire. In 640 he married Princess Wencheng, the niece of the powerful Chinese emperor Emperor Taizong of Tang China.
Under the next few kings who followed Songsten Gampo, 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's capital Chang'an (modern Xi'an) in late 763. However, Tibetan troops' occupation of Chang'an only lasted for fifteen days after they were defeated by Tang and its ally, the Turkic empire Uyghur Khaganate.
Nanzhao (in Yunnan 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, who tried to re-open the direct communications between Central Asia and Kashmir. By 750 the Tibetans had lost almost all of their central Asian possessions to the Chinese. However, after Gao Xianzhi's defeat by the Arabs and Qarluqs at the Battle of Talas river (751), Chinese influence decreased rapidly and Tibetan influence resumed.In 821/822 CE Tibet and China signed a remarkable peace treaty. A bilingual account of this treaty including details of the borders between the two countries are inscribed on a stone pillar which stands outside the Jokhang temple in Lhasa. Tibet continued as a Central Asian empire until the mid-9th century.
At the end of the 1230s, the Mongols turned their attention to Tibet. At that time, Mongol armies had already conquered Northern China, much of Central Asia, and as far as Russia and modern Ukraine. The Tibetan nobility, however, was fragmented and mainly occupied with internal strife. Göden, a brother of Güyük, entered the country in 1240. A second invasion led to the submission of almost all Tibetan states. In 1244, Göden summoned the Sakya Pandita to his court, and in 1247 appointed Sakya the Mongolian viceroy for Central Tibet, though the eastern provinces of Kham and Amdo remained "under direct Mongol rule". When Kublai Khan founded the Yuan Dynasty in 1271, Tibet became a part of the Yuan Dynasty.
Between 1346 and 1354, towards the end of the Yuan Dynasty, the Pagmodru myriarch, Tai Situ Changchub Gyaltsen (1302–1364) toppled the Sakya. The following 80 years were a period of relative stability. They also saw the birth of the Gelugpa school (also known as Yellow Hats) by the disciples of Tsongkhapa Lobsang Dragpa, and the founding of the important Ganden, Drepung, and Sera monasteries near Lhasa. After the 1430s, the country entered another period of internal power struggles.
In 1578, Altan Khan of the Tümed Mongols invited Sonam Gyatso, a high lama of the Gelugpa school. They met near Khökh Nuur, where Altan Khan first referred to Sönam Gyatso as the Dalai Lama; Dalai being the Mongolian translation of the Tibetan name Gyatso, or "Ocean".
In the 1630s, Tibet became entangled in the power struggles between the rising Manchu and various Mongol and Oirad factions. Ligden Khan of the Mongolian Chakhar tribe, retreating from the Manchu forces, set out to destroy the Yellow Hat Gelug school in Tibet but died on the way near Kokonor, in 1634.  His vassal Tsogt Taij continued the fight but was defeated and killed by Güshi Khan of the Khoshud in 1637, who, in turn, became the overlord over Tibet, and acted as a "Protector of the Yellow Church" . Güshi helped the Fifth Dalai Lama to establish himself as the highest spiritual and political authority in Tibet and destroyed any potential rivals.
In 1705, Lobzang Khan of the Khoshud used the 6th Dalai Lama's refusal of the role of a monk (although the incumbent did not reject his political role as Dalai Lama) as an excuse to take control of Tibet. The regent was murdered, and the Dalai Lama sent to Beijing. He died on the way, also near Kokonor, ostensibly from illness. Lobzang Khan appointed a new Dalai Lama, who, however, was not accepted by the Gelugpa school.
A rival reincarnation was found in the region of Kokonor. The Dzungars invaded Tibet in 1717, deposed and killed a pretender to the position of Dalai Lama (who had been promoted by Lhabzang), which met with widespread approval. However, the Dzungars soon began to loot the holy places of Lhasa which brought a swift response from Emperor Kangxi in 1718, but his military expedition was annihilated by the Dzungars not far from Lhasa. 
Emperor Kangxi finally expelled the Dzungars from Tibet in 1720 and the troops were hailed as liberators. They brought Kelzang Gyatso with them from Kumbum to Lhasa and he was installed as the Seventh Dalai Lama in 1721, though they did not make Tibet a province, allowed it to maintain its own officials and legal and administrative systems, and levied no taxes.  However, the Manchu Qing put Amdo under their control in 1724, and incorporated eastern Kham into neighbouring Chinese provinces in 1728. The Qing government sent a resident commissioner, namely Amban, to Lhasa. In 1751, Emperor Qianlong installed the Dalai Lama as both the spiritual leader and political leader of Tibet leading the government, namely Kashag.
While the ancient relations between Tibet and China are more complex, there is generally little doubt regarding the subordination of Tibet to Qing China following first decades of the 18th century. In 1788, Gurkha forces sent by Bahadur Shah, the Regent of Nepal, invaded Tibet, occupying a number of frontier districts. The young Panchen Lama fled to Lhasa and Qing Emperor Qianlong sent troops to Lhasa, upon which the Nepalese withdrew agreeing to pay a large annual sum. In 1791 the Nepalese Gurkhas invaded Tibet a second time, seizing Shigatse and destroyed, plundered, and desecrated the great Tashilhunpo Monastery. The Panchen Lama was forced to flee to Lhasa once again. Emperor Qianlong then sent an army of 17,000 men to Tibet. In 1793, with the assistance of Tibetan troops, they managed to drive the Nepalese troops to within about 30 km of Kathmandu.
The 18th century brought Jesuits and Capuchins from Europe who gradually met opposition from Tibetan lamas who finally expelled them from Tibet in 1745. However, at the time not all Europeans were banned from the country — in 1774 a Scottish nobleman, George Bogle, came to Shigatse to investigate trade for the British East India Company, introducing the first potatoes into Tibet.
However, by the 19th century the situation of foreigners in Tibet grew more tenuous. The British Empire was encroaching from northern India into the Himalayas and Afghanistan and the Russian Empire of the tsars was expanding south into Central Asia and each power became suspicious of intent in Tibet. Sándor Kőrösi Csoma, the Hungarian scientist spent 20 years in British India (4 years in Ladakh) trying to visit Tibet. He created the first Tibetan-English dictionary.
By the 1850s Tibet had banned all foreigners from Tibet and shut its borders to all outsiders.
In 1904, a British expedition to Tibet under the command of Colonel Francis Younghusband, accompanied by a large military escort, invaded Tibet and reached Lhasa. The British were spurred in part by a fear that Russia was extending its power into Tibet, and partly by hope that negotiations with the Dalai Lama would be more effective than with Chinese representatives. But on his way to Lhasa, Younghusband slaughtered many Tibetan troops in Gyangzê who tried to stop the British advance.
When the mission reached Lhasa, the Dalai Lama had already fled to Urga in Mongolia, but Younghusband found the option of returning to India empty-handed untenable. He proceeded to draft a treaty unilaterally, and have it signed in the Potala by the regent, Ganden Tri Rinpoche, and any other local officials he could gather together as an ad hoc government. The treaty made provisions for the frontier between Sikkim and Tibet to be respected, for free trade between British and Tibetan subjects, and for an indemnity to be paid from the Qing court to the British Government for its expenses in dispatching armed troops to Lhasa. The provisions of this 1904 treaty were confirmed in a 1906 treaty Anglo-Chinese Convention signed between Britain and China. The British, for a fee from the Qing court, also agreed "not to annex Tibetan territory or to interfere in the administration of Tibet", while China engaged "not to permit any other foreign state to interfere with the territory or internal administration of Tibet". 
The position of British Trade Agent at Gyangzê was occupied from 1904 until 1944. It was not until 1937, with the creation of the position of "Head of British Mission Lhasa", that a British officer had a permanent posting in Lhasa itself.
André Migot, a French doctor who travelled for many months in Tibet in 1947 described the complex border arrangements between Tibet and China, and how they had developed:
"In order to offset the damage done to their interests by the  treaty between England and Tibet, the Chinese set about extending westwards the sphere of their direct control and began to colonize the country round Batang. The Tibetans reacted vigorously. The Chinese governor was killed on his way to Chamdo and his army put to flight after an action near Batang; several missionaries were also murdered, and Chinese fortunes were at a low ebb when a special commissioner called Chao Yu-fong appeared on the scene.
Acting with a savagery which earned him the sobriquet of "The Butcher of Monks," he swept down on Batang, sacked the lamasery, pushed on to Chamdo, and in a series of victorious campaigns which brought his army to the gates of Lhasa, re-established order and reasserted Chinese domination over Tibet. In 1909 he recommended that Sikang should be constituted a separate province comprising thirty-six subprefectures with Batang as the capital. This project was not carried out until later, and then in modified form, for the Chinese Revolution of 1911 brought Chao's career to an end and he was shortly afterwards assassinated by his compatriots.
The troubled early years of the Chinese Republic saw the rebellion of most of the tributary chieftains, a number of pitched battles between Chinese and Tibetans, and many strange happenings in which tragedy, comedy, and (of course) religion all had a part to play. In 1914 Great Britain, China, and Tibet met at the conference table to try to restore peace, but this conclave broke up after failing to reach agreement on the fundamental question of the Sino-Tibetan frontier. This, since about 1918, has been recognized for practical purposes as following the course of the Upper Yangtze. In these years the Chinese had too many other preoccupations to bother about reconquering Tibet. However, things gradually quieted down, and in 1927 the province of Sikang was brought into being, but it consisted of only twenty-seven subprefectures instead of the thirty-six visualized by the man who conceived the idea. China had lost, in the course of a decade, all the territory which the Butcher had overrun.
Since then Sikang has been relatively peaceful, but this short synopsis of the province's history makes it easy to understand how precarious this state of affairs is bound to be. Chinese control was little more than nominal; I was often to have first-hand experience of its ineffectiveness. In order to govern a territory of this kind it is not enough to station, in isolated villages separated from each other by many days' journey, a few unimpressive officials and a handful of ragged soldiers. The Tibetans completely disregarded the Chinese administration and obeyed only their own chiefs. One very simple fact illustrates the true status of Sikang's Chinese rulers: nobody in the province would accept Chinese currency, and the officials, unable to buy anything with their money, were forced to subsist by a process of barter."
In 1910, the Qing government sent a military expedition of its own to establish direct Chinese rule and deposed the Dalai Lama in an imperial edict. The Dalai Lama once again fled, this time to British India, in February 1910.
The Dalai Lama returned to Tibet from India in July 1912 (after the fall of the Qing dynasty), and expelled the Amban and all Chinese troops. Chinese President Yuan Shikai sent a telegram to the Dalai Lama, offering to restore his earlier titles. The Dalai Lama replied that he "intended to exercise both temporal and ecclesiastical rule in Tibet." In 1913, the Dalai Lama issued a proclamation that stated that relationship between the Chinese emperor and Tibet "had been that of patron and priest and had not been based on the subordination of one to the other." "We are a small, religious, and independent nation," the proclamation stated.
In early 1913, Agvan Dorzhiev and two other Tibetan representatives signed a treaty between Tibet and Mongolia in Urga, proclaiming mutual recognition and their independence from China. The 13th Dalai Lama later told a British diplomat that he had not authorized Agvan Dorzhiev to conclude any treaties on behalf of Tibet.  Because the text was not published, some initially doubted the existence of the treaty, but the Mongolian text was published by the Mongolian Academy of Sciences in 1982.
In 1914, representatives of Tibet, Britain, and China attended the Simla Convention which was convoked by Britain to discuss the issue of Tibet's status. The convention included a map delineating a boundary between Tibet and India later called the McMahon Line. It provided that the Tibetan Government at Lhasa would administer "Outer Tibet," roughly the same area as the modern Tibet Autonomous Region. The convention also affirmed Chinese suzerainty and stated that Tibet was "part of Chinese territory". When the Chinese government refused to ratify, Tibet and Britain concluded the treaty as a bilateral agreement and attached a note denying China any privileges under it.
The subsequent outbreak of World War I and the division of China into military cliques ruled by warlords caused the Western powers and the infighting factions within China to either lose interest or too busy and fragile to interfere in Tibet. Some believe the 13th Dalai Lama ruled undisturbed until his death in 1933.
"Thus, from 1913 when the last Qing officials and troops left Tibet to the death of the thirteenth Dalai Lama in 1933, no Chinese officials or troops were permitted to reside in Tibet, and the Tibetan government accepted no interference from Beijing. Chinese fortunes in Tibet improved slightly after the death of the thirteenth Dalai Lama when Tibet allowed a "condolence mission" sent by the Guomingdang (Kuomintang) government of Chiang Kai-shek to visit Lhasa, and then permitted it to open an office to facilitate negotiations aimed at resolving the Tibet Question. These talks proved futile, but Tibet allowed the office to remain.
The Japanese invasion of China in 1937 saved Tibet from having to defend its de facto independence from China, and Tibet continued to operate without interference from Chiang Kai-shek. China did not, however, abandon its claims over Tibet. To the contrary, it effectively reinforced its position throughout the world (and in China itself) with a propaganda campaign that actively sought to create the impression that Tibet was in fact part of China. Tibet, with virtually no officials who understood the West or spoke English, blithely ignored this ominous development, much as it had earlier closed its eyes to reality and returned British governmental correspondence unopened."
By 1933, the government of Tibet controlled all of Ü-Tsang (Dbus-gtsang) and western Kham (Khams), somewhat larger than the Tibet Autonomous Region today. Eastern Kham, separated by the Yangtze River, was under the control of Chinese warlord Liu Wenhui. Southern Kham (nowadays Tibetan autonomous region of Yunnan), along with other parts of Yunnan belong to the Yunnan clique from 1915 till 1927, then to Governor and warlord Long (Lung) Yun until near the end of Chinese Civil War when Du Yuming removed him under the order of Chiang Kai-shek. Amdo was under the control of the family of Muslim warlords Ma clique, who ruled the present day of Qinghai, Gansu and Ningxia from the 1910s until 1949. In 1935 the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso was born in Amdo in eastern Tibet. He was taken to Lhasa in 1937 where he was later given an official ceremony in 1939. In 1944, during World War II, two Austrian mountaineers, Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter came to Lhasa, where Harrer became a tutor and friend to the young Dalai Lama giving him a sound knowledge of western culture and modern society, until he was forced to leave in 1959.
Supporters of the PRC have characterized the socio-economy of Tibet prior to Communism as 'feudal serfdom'. However, supporters of an independent Tibet objected to this assessment. For a discussion of the debate see Serfdom in Tibet controversy. For a description of the traditional social structure see Social classes of Tibet.
Since the expulsion of the Amban from Tibet in 1912, communication between Tibet and China took place only with the British as mediator. Direct communications resumed after the 13th Dalai Lama's death. China was then permitted to establish an office in Lhasa, staffed by the Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission and headed by Wu Zhongxin, the Commission's director of Tibetan Affairs. , which Chinese sources claim was an administrative body. ; but the Tibetans claim that they rejected China's proposal that Tibet should be a part of China, and in turn demanded the return of territories east of the Drichu (Yangtze River). In response to the establishment of a Chinese office in Lhasa, the British obtained similar permission and set up their own office there.
China also argues that official documents showed that the National Assembly of China and both chambers of parliament had Tibetan members, whose names had been preserved all along. Furthermore, China claims that the Kuomintang Government ratified the current 14th Dalai Lama, and KMT representative General Wu Zhongxin (Wu Chung-hsin) presided over the sitting in ceremony, both the ratification order of February 1940 and the documentary film of the ceremony still exist intact. According to Tsering Shakya, Wu Zhongxin (along with other foreign representatives) was present at the ceremony, but there is no evidence that he presided over it.
A rebellion against the Chinese occupation was led by noblemen and monasteries and broke out in Amdo and eastern Kham in June 1956. The insurrection, supported by the American CIA, eventually spread to Lhasa. It was crushed by 1959. During this campaign, tens of thousands of Tibetans were killed and the 14th Dalai Lama and other government principals fled to exile in India. 
Chinese sources generally claim progress towards a prosperous and free society in Tibet, with its pillars being economic development, legal advancement, and peasant emancipation. These claims, however, have been refuted by the Tibet Government-in-Exile and some indigenous Tibetans, who claim of genocide in Tibet from the Chinese government, comparing it to Nazi Germany. The official doctrine of the PRC classifies Tibetans as one of its 56 recognized ethnic groups and part of the greater Zhonghua Minzu or multi-ethnic Chinese nation. Warren Smith, an independent scholar and a broadcaster with the Tibetan Service of Radio Free Asia   , whose work became focused on Tibetan history and politics after spending five months in Tibet in 1982, portrays the Chinese as chauvinists who believe they are superior to the Tibetans, and claims that the Chinese use torture, coercion and starvation to control the Tibetans.
Mao's Great Leap Forward (1959-62) led to famine in Tibet. "In some places, whole families have perished and the death rate is very high," according to a confidential report by the Panchen Lama sent to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1962. "In the past Tibet lived in a dark barbaric feudalism but there was never such a shortage of food, especially after Buddhism had spread....In Tibet from 1959-1961, for two years almost all animal husbandry and farming stopped. The nomads have no grain to eat and the farmers have no meat, butter or salt," the report said.
The Central Tibetan Administration states that the number that have died of starvation, violence, or other indirect causes since 1950 is approximately 1.2 million, which the Chinese Communist Party denies. The Chinese Communist Party(CCP)'s official toll of deaths recorded for the whole of China for the years of the Great Leap Forward is 14 million, but scholars have estimated the number of the famine victims to be between 20 and 43 million . According to Patrick French, former director of the Free Tibet Campaign, the estimate of 1.2 million in Tibet is not reliable because Tibetans were not able to process the data well enough to produce a credible total. There were, however, many casualties, with a figure of 400,000 extrapolated from a calculation Warren W. Smith, a broadcaster of Radio Free Asia, made from census reports of Tibet which show 200,000 "missing" from Tibet. 
The subsequent Cultural Revolution was a catastrophe for Tibet and for the rest of the PRC. Large numbers of Tibetans died violent deaths due to the Cultural Revolution, and the number of intact monasteries in Tibet was reduced from thousands, to less than ten. Tibetan resentment towards the Chinese deepened. Tibetans participated in the destruction, but it is not clear how many of them actually embraced the Communist ideology, and how many participated out of fear of becoming targets themselves. Resistors against the Cultural Revolution included Thrinley Chodron, a nun from Nyemo, who led an armed rebellion that spread through eighteen xians (counties) of the TAR, targeting Chinese Party officials and Tibetan collaborators, that was ultimately suppressed by the PLA. Citing Tibetan Buddhist symbols which the rebels invoked, Shakya calls this 1969 revolt "a millenarian uprising, an insurgency characterized by a passionate desire to be rid of the oppressor."
Projects that the PRC government claims to have benefited Tibet as part of the China Western Development economic plan, such as the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, have roused fears of facilitating military mobilisation and Han migration. There is still ethnic imbalance in appointments and promotions to the civil and judicial services in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, with disproportionately few ethnic Tibetans appointed to these posts. 
The PRC government claims that its rule over Tibet is an unalloyed improvement, and that the China Western Development plan is a massive, benevolent, and patriotic undertaking by the wealthier eastern coast to help the western parts of China, including Tibet, catch up in prosperity and living standards. But foreign organizations continue to make occasional protests about aspects of CCP rule in Tibet because of frequent reports of human rights violation in Tibet by groups such as Human Rights Watch. The government of the PRC maintains that the Tibetan Government did almost nothing to improve the Tibetans' material and political standard of life during its rule from 1913–59, and that they opposed any reforms proposed by the Chinese government. According to the Chinese government, this is the reason for the tension that grew between some central government officials and the local Tibetan government in 1959.
The government of the PRC also rejects claims that the lives of Tibetans have deteriorated, and states that the lives of Tibetans have been improved immensely compared to self rule before 1950. Belying these claims, some 3,000 Tibetans brave hardship and danger to flee into exile every year. (See also Nangpa La shootings.)
These claims are, however, disputed by many Tibetans. In 1989, the Panchen Lama, finally allowed to return to Shigatse, addressed a crowd of 30,000 and described what he saw as the suffering of Tibet and the harm being done to his country in the name of socialist reform under the rule of the PRC in terms reminiscent of the petition he had presented to Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai in 1962.
In 1995, the Dalai Lama named 6 year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the 11th Panchen Lama without the approval of the government of China, while the PRC named another child, Gyancain Norbu in conflict. Gyancain Norbu was raised in Beijing and has appeared occasionally on state media. The PRC-selected Panchen Lama is rejected by exiled Tibetans and anti-China groups who commonly refer to him as the "Panchen Zuma" (literally "fake Panchen Lama"). Gedhun Choekyi Nyima and his family have gone missing — believed by some to be imprisoned by China — and under a hidden identity for protection and privacy according to the PRC.
The Dalai Lama has stated his willingness to negotiate with the PRC government for genuine autonomy, but some groups, such as the Tibetan Youth Congress, still call for full Tibetan independence. The Tibetan government in exile sees the millions of government-imported Han immigrants and preferential socioeconomic policies, as presenting an urgent threat to the Tibetan nation and culture. Tibetan exile groups say that despite recent attempts to restore the appearance of original Tibetan culture to attract tourism, the traditional Tibetan way of life is now irrevocably changed. Tashi Wangdi, the Representative of the Dalai Lama, stated in an interview that China's Western China Development program "is providing facilities for the resettlement of Han Chinese in Tibet."
In 2001 representatives of Tibet succeeded in gaining accreditation at a United Nations-sponsored meeting of non-governmental organizations. On 29 August Jampal Chosang, the head of the Tibetan coalition, stated that China had introduced "a new form of apartheid" in Tibet because "Tibetan culture, religion, and national identity are considered a threat" to China.
In 2005, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao offered to hold talks with the 14th Dalai Lama on the Tibet issue, provided he dropped the demand for independence. The Dalai Lama said in an interview with the South China Morning Post "We are willing to be part of the People's Republic of China, to have it govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment." This statement was seen as a renewed diplomatic initiative by the Tibetan government-in-exile. He had already said he would accept Chinese sovereignty over Tibet but insisted on real autonomy over its religious and cultural life. The Tibetan government-in-exile called on the Chinese government to respond. Beijing has repeatedly rebuffed this offer, insisting that the Dalai Lama is intent on complete independence, or the splitting apart of China iteself. 
In January 2007 the Dalai Lama, in an interview on a private television channel, said, "what we demand from the Chinese authority is more autonomy for Tibetans to protect their culture". He added that he had told the Tibetan people not to think in terms of history and to accept Tibet as a part of China.
Talks between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government began again in May 2008 and again in July, but with little results. The two sides agreed to meet again in October.
See main article: Geography of Tibet.
Traditionally, Western (European and American) sources have regarded Tibet as part of Central Asia;      today's maps show a trend toward considering all of modern China, including Tibet, to be part of East Asia. Some academics also include Tibet in South Asia.         Tibet is west of China proper, and within China, 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 a few of them make the top ten list. Mount Everest, at 8848m (29,029feet), it is the highest mountain on Earth, located on the border with Nepal. Several major rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau (mostly in present-day Qinghai Province). These include Yangtze, Yellow River, Indus River, Mekong, Ganges, Salween and the Yarlung Zangbo River (Brahmaputra River) . The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, along the Yarlung Zangbo River, is regarded by some as the deepest canyon in the world, and is even slightly longer than Grand Canyon, hence it is regarded by many as the world's largest canyon. The Indus, Brahmaputra rivers originate from a lake (Tib: Tso Mapham) in Western Tibet, near Mount Kailash. The mountain is a holy pilgrimage for both Hindus 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, Lake Manasarovar, Namtso, Pangong Tso, Yamdrok Lake, Siling Co, Lhamo La-tso, Lumajangdong Co, Lake Puma Yumco, Lake Paiku, Lake Rakshastal, Dagze Co 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 whereby mountain ranges prevent moisture from the ocean from reaching the plateaus. 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 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 (A mdo) in the northeast, which is under the administration as part of the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu and Sichuan. Kham (Khams) in the southeast, is divided among western Sichuan, northern Yunnan, southern Qinghai and the eastern part of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Ü-Tsang (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. The distribution of Amdo and eastern Kham into surrounding provinces was initiated by the Yongzheng Emperor during the 18th century and has been continuously maintained by successive Chinese governments.
South of the border between China and India, the region popularly known in China as South Tibet, is claimed by People's Republic of China and the Republic of China as part of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It is currently administered by India as the majority part of the state of Arunachal Pradesh. Tibet Government in Lhasa altered its position on the McMahon Line in late 1947 when the local Tibetan government wrote a note presented to the newly independent Indian Ministry of External Affairs laying claims to the Tawang (inhabited by mostly ethnic Tibetans) south of the McMahon Line. However, the current Tibet government in exile which was founded in 1959, does not include any area south of the McMahon line in their official claim of the territory of Tibet.  It also accepts the McMahon Line as the official border between southeastern Tibet and India.
Tibetan cultural influences extend to the neighboring states of Bhutan, Nepal, regions of India such as Sikkim, Ladakh, Lahaul, and Spiti, and adjacent provinces of China where Tibetan Buddhism is the predominant religion.
There are over 800 settlements in Tibet, Lhasa is Tibet's traditional capital and the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. Lhasa contains the world heritage site the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, the residences of the Dalai Lama. Lhasa contains a number of significant temples and monasteries which are deeply engrained in its history including Jokhang and Ramoche Temple.
Other cities in cultural Tibet include, Nagchu, Nyingchi, Nedong, Barkam, Sakya, Gartse, Pelbar, Lhatse, and Tingri; in Sichuan, Kangding (Dartsedo); in Qinghai, Jyekundo or Yushu, Machen, and Golmud. There is also a large Tibetan settlement in South India near Kushalanagara. India created this settlement for Tibetan refugees which had fled to India.
See main article: Economy of Tibet.
According to Chinese sources, Tibet Autonomous Region's GDP in 2001 was 13.9 billion yuan (USD1.8billion) The Central government exempts Tibet from all taxation and provides 90% of Tibet's government expenditures.    . The Tibetan economy is dominated by subsistence agriculture. Due to limited arable land, livestock raising is the primary occupation mainly on the Tibetan Plateau, among them are sheep, cattle, goats, camels, yaks, dzo, and horses. However, the main crops grown are barley, wheat, buckwheat, rye, potatoes and assorted fruits and vegetables. As a result of being a subsistence agricultural society 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 the increased interest in Tibetan Buddhism, tourism has become an increasingly important sector, and is actively promoted by the authorities. The Tibetan economy is heavily subsidized by the Central government and government cadres receive the second-highest salaries in China.
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 rugs and carpets.The Qinghai-Tibet Railway which links the region to Qinghai in China proper was opened in 2006. The Chinese government claims that the line will promote the development of impoverished Tibet. But opponents argue the railway will harm Tibet. For instance, Tibetan opponents contend that it would only draw more Han Chinese residents, the country's dominant ethnic group, who have been migrating steadily to Tibet over the last decade, bringing with them their popular culture. Opponents believe that the large influx of Han Chinese will ultimately extinguish the local culture.
Other opponents argue that the railway will damage Tibet's fragile ecology and that most of its economic benefits will go to migrant Han Chinese. As activists call for a boycott of the railway, the Dalai Lama has urged Tibetans to "wait and see" what benefits the new line might bring to them. According to the Government-in-exile's spokesmen, the Dalai Lama welcomes the building of the railway, "conditioned on the fact that the railroad will bring benefit to the majority of Tibetans."
In January 2007, the Chinese government issued a report outlining the discovery of a large mineral deposit under the Tibetan Plateau. 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.
Historically, the population of Tibet consisted of primarily ethnic Tibetans and their related ethnic groups. Other ethnic groups in Tibet Autonomous Region include Menba (Monpa), Lhoba, Mongols and Hui Chinese. Traditional ethnic groups in other parts of cultural Tibet (excluding dispute area with India) with significant population or with the majority of the ethnic group reside in Tibet include Han, Qiang, Mosuo, Nakhi, Monguor (Tu people), Blang, Salar, Dongxiang, Bonan, Nu people, Pumi, Yi people, Bai people and Lisu people. 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.
The issue of the proportion of the Han Chinese population in Tibet is a politically sensitive one. The Central Tibetan Administration, an exile group, says that the PRC has actively swamped Tibet with Han Chinese migrants in order to alter Tibet's demographic makeup.
Between the 1960s and 1980s, many political prisoners from other parts of China (over 1 million, according to Harry Wu) were sent to laogai (or "reform through labor") camps in Qinghai, where they were then employed locally after release.
"The most important evidence comes from an official report written to Premier Zhou Enlai in 1962 by the late Panchen Lama, then head of the Tibetan government. The report noted that "there has been an evident and severe reduction in the present-day Tibetan population" due to the fact that "many people have been lost in battle," "many people were arrested and imprisoned [which] caused large numbers of people to die abnormal deaths," and "many people died of starvation or because they were so physically weak that they could not resist minor illnesses". . . . In a speech delivered in 1987, the Panchen Lama estimated the number of prison deaths in Qinghai at around 5 percent of the total population in the area."
Since the 1980s, increasing economic liberalization and internal mobility has also resulted in the influx of many Han Chinese into Tibet for work or settlement, though the actual number of this floating population remains disputed.
The Government of Tibet in Exile claims that, despite official statistics to the contrary, in reality non-ethnic Tibetans (including Han Chinese and Hui Muslims) outnumber ethnic Tibetans. It claims that this is as a result of an active policy of demographically swamping the Tibetan people and further diminishing any chances of Tibetan political independence . The Dalai Lama has recently been reported as saying that the Tibetans had been reduced to a minority "in his homeland", by reference to population figures of Lhasa, and accusing China of "demographic aggression".
The Government of Tibet in Exile questions all statistics given by the PRC government, since they do not include members of the People's Liberation Army garrisoned in Tibet, or the large floating population of unregistered migrants . The Qinghai-Tibet Railway (Xining to Lhasa) completed in July 2006 is also a major concern, exiled Tibetan Lhadon Tethong said the railway is to further facilitate the influx of migrants.
The Government of Tibet in Exile quotes an issue of People's Daily published in 1959 to claim that the Tibetan population has dropped significantly since 1959. According to the article, figures from the National Bureau of Statistics of the PRC show that the autonomous region of Tibet was populated by persons. In the Tibetan sectors of Kham, Tibetans were counted. In Qinghai and other Tibetan sectors that are incorporated in Gansu, Tibetans were counted. According to the total of these three numbers, the Tibetan population attained in 1959. 
In 2000, the number of Tibetans as a whole of these regions was about according to National Bureau of Statistics .
The Government of Tibet in Exile claims that a comparison of these statistics originating from National Bureau of Statistics shows that between 1959 and 2000, the Tibetan population decreased by about one million, a 15% decline. During the same period, the Chinese population doubled, and the world-wide population increased by 3-fold. This analysis gives an additional argument concerning the estimation of the number of Tibetan deaths during the period between 1959 and 1979.It also suggests the existence of a demographic deficit of the Tibetan population and the precise time course and causes must be specified.
The accuracy of this 1959 Tibetan population estimate quoted by the Government of Tibet in Exile is in conflict with the findings of the 1954 Chinese census report. The census states that the total population of the autonomous region of Tibet was 1,273,969; the total population of Kham was 3,381,064; and the total population of Qinghai was 1,675,534. These numbers were taken by the Government of Tibet in Exile as the population of Tibetans in each province. However, in all of these provinces, Tibetans were not the only traditional ethnic group. Especially in Qinghai, which has a historical mixture of different groups of ethnics. In 1949, Han Chinese made up 48.3% of the population, the rest of the ethnic groups make up 51.7% of the 1.5 million total population.  As of today, Han Chinese account for 54% of the total population of Qinghai, which is slightly higher than in 1949. Tibetans make up around 20% of the population of Qinghai.
The PRC also does not recognize Greater Tibet as claimed by the government of Tibet in Exile. The PRC government claims that the ethnically Tibetan areas outside the TAR were not controlled by the Tibetan government before 1959 in the first place, having been administered instead by other surrounding provinces for centuries. It further alleges that the idea of "Greater Tibet" was originally engineered by foreign imperialists in order to divide China amongst themselves (Mongolia being a striking precedent, gaining independence with Soviet backing and subsequently aligning itself with the Soviet Union).
The PRC gives the number of Tibetans in Tibet Autonomous Region as 2.4 million, as opposed to 190,000 non-Tibetans, and the number of Tibetans in all Tibetan autonomous entities combined (slightly smaller than the Greater Tibet claimed by exiled Tibetans) as 5.0 million, as opposed to 2.3 million non-Tibetans. In the TAR itself, much of the Han population is to be found in Lhasa. Population control policies like the one-child policy only apply to Han Chinese, not to minorities such as Tibetans  .
Jampa Phuntsok, chairman of the TAR, has also said that the central government has no policy of migration into Tibet due to its harsh high-altitude conditions, that the 6% Han in the TAR is a very fluid group mainly doing business or working, and that there is no immigration problem. (This report includes both permanent and temperature residences in Tibet, but excludes Tibetans studying or working outside of TAR)  By 2006, 3% of the permanent residences in Tibet are of Han ethnic, according to National Bureau of Statistics of China. 
With regards to the historical population of ethnic Tibetans, the Chinese government claims that according to the First National Census conducted in 1954, there were 2,770,000 ethnic Tibetans in China, including 1,270,000 in the TAR; whereas in the Fourth National Census conducted in 1990, there were 4,590,000 ethnic Tibetans in China, including 2,090,000 in the TAR. These figures are used to advance the claim that the Tibetan population has doubled since 1951. 
This table includes all Tibetan autonomous entities in the PRC, plus Xining PLC and Haidong P. The latter two are included to complete the figures for Qinghai province, and also because they are claimed as parts of Greater Tibet by the Government of Tibet in exile.
P = Prefecture; AP = Autonomous prefecture; PLC = Prefecture-level city; AC = Autonomous county.
Excludes members of the People's Liberation Army in active service.
|Major ethnic groups in Greater Tibet by region, 2000 census.|
|Tibet Autonomous Region||2,616,329||2,427,168||92.8%||158,570||6.1%||30,591||1.2%|
|- Lhasa PLC||474,499||387,124||81.6%||80,584||17.0%||6,791||1.4%|
|- Qamdo Prefecture||586,152||563,831||96.2%||19,673||3.4%||2,648||0.5%|
|- Shannan Prefecture||318,106||305,709||96.1%||10,968||3.4%||1,429||0.4%|
|- Xigazê Prefecture||634,962||618,270||97.4%||12,500||2.0%||4,192||0.7%|
|- Nagqu Prefecture||366,710||357,673||97.5%||7,510||2.0%||1,527||0.4%|
|- Ngari Prefecture||77,253||73,111||94.6%||3,543||4.6%||599||0.8%|
|- Nyingchi Prefecture||158,647||121,450||76.6%||23,792||15.0%||13,405||8.4%|
|- Xining PLC||1,849,713||96,091||5.2%||1,375,013||74.3%||378,609||20.5%|
|- Haidong Prefecture||1,391,565||128,025||9.2%||783,893||56.3%||479,647||34.5%|
|- Haibei AP||258,922||62,520||24.1%||94,841||36.6%||101,561||39.2%|
|- Huangnan AP||214,642||142,360||66.3%||16,194||7.5%||56,088||26.1%|
|- Hainan AP||375,426||235,663||62.8%||105,337||28.1%||34,426||9.2%|
|- Golog AP||137,940||126,395||91.6%||9,096||6.6%||2,449||1.8%|
|- Gyêgu AP||262,661||255,167||97.1%||5,970||2.3%||1,524||0.6%|
|- Haixi AP||332,094||40,371||12.2%||215,706||65.0%||76,017||22.9%|
|Tibetan areas in Sichuan province|
|- Ngawa AP||847,468||455,238||53.7%||209,270||24.7%||182,960||21.6%|
|- Garzê AP||897,239||703,168||78.4%||163,648||18.2%||30,423||3.4%|
|- Muli AC||124,462||60,679||48.8%||27,199||21.9%||36,584||29.4%|
|Tibetan areas in Yunnan province|
|- Dêqên AP||353,518||117,099||33.1%||57,928||16.4%||178,491||50.5%|
|Tibetan areas in Gansu province|
|- Gannan AP||640,106||329,278||51.4%||267,260||41.8%||43,568||6.8%|
|- Tianzhu AC||221,347||66,125||29.9%||139,190||62.9%||16,032||7.2%|
|Total for Greater Tibet:|
|With Xining and Haidong||10,523,432||5,245,347||49.8%||3,629,115||34.5%||1,648,970||15.7%|
|Without Xining and Haidong||7,282,154||5,021,231||69.0%||1,470,209||20.2%||790,714||10.9%|
According to the non-governmental organization Save Tibet website, the Tibetan people are denied most rights guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the rights to self-determination, freedom of speech, assembly, movement, expression, and travel.  Elliot Sperling, an Associate Professor of Tibetan Studies at Indiana University, in a statement to the Human Rights Watch, introduced his new book that graphically detailing the exile of Tibet today and the role human rights violations played in forcing many Tibetans to leave their homeland. 
According to the Chinese government, the human rights situation in Tibet has been greatly improved, especially emphasized is the emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in Tibet in late 1950s. 
Amnesty International has stated that political prisoners are often tortured, sometimes fatally. Unofficial sources report that since 1987, at least 41 Tibetans throughout Tibet are recorded as having died as a result of torture in prisons or shortly after release. Human rights groups have confirmed by name over 700 Tibetan political prisoners in Tibet, many of them detained without charge or trial. 
Journalist Thomas Laird claims that there is no evidence to support China's claim that Tibet is autonomous, as all local legislation is subject to approval of the central government in Beijing.
The Tibetan exile government claims that China does not allow independent human rights organisations into Tibet, and foreign delegations invited to Tibet are denied independent access to meet with Tibetans.   The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy claims that more than 11,000 monks and nuns have been expelled from Tibet since 1996 for opposing "patriotic re-education" sessions conducted at monasteries and nunneries under the "Strike Hard" campaign.
Thomas Laird also claims that China continues to encourage the transfer of Chinese settlers into Tibet. Transnational Radical Party claims this threatens the survival of the Tibetan racial, cultural and national identity. The Free Tibet website claims that unemployment in schools, discussion of Tibetan cultural, religious and social issues is discouraged, and Chinese culture is promoted. 
The Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy claims that unemployment among Tibetans is high. It also considers the taxation system to be arbitrary, which further exacerbates the conditions of poverty for Tibetans in rural areas. Many basic rights, such as the right to housing, education and health, remain unfulfilled.
The Tibet Intergroup of the European Parliament has around 100 MEPs as members.
See main article: Culture of Tibet.
Religion and spirituality is extremely important to the Tibetans and has a strong influence over all aspects of lives; ingrained deeply into their cultural heritage. Bön is the ancient traditional religion of Tibet, but following the introduction of Tantric Buddhism into Tibet by Padmasambhava this became eclipsed by Tibetan Buddhism, a distinctive form of Vajrayana. Tibetan Buddhism is practiced not only in Tibet but also in Mongolia, parts of northern India, the Buryat Republic, the Tuva Republic, and in the Republic of Kalmykia and some other areas in China besides the Tibet region. As every where in China was undergoing Cultural Revolution, there were over 6,000 monasteries and convents in Tibet, and nearly all but a handful were ransacked and destroyed by the Red Guards, including Tibetan Red Guards.   Some of the monasteries has begun to rebuild by the Chinese government since the 1980s and greater religious freedom also granted - although it is still limited. Monks returned to monasteries cross Tibet and monastic eduction 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):
See main article: Islam in Tibet.
Muslims have been living in Tibet since as early as the eighth or ninth 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 (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, Salar, Dongxiang and Bonan. There is also a well established Chinese Muslim community (gya kachee), which traces its ancestry back to the Hui ethnic group of China.
See main article: List of Buddhist monasteries in Tibet.
See main article: Tibetan art.
Tibetan representations of art are intrinsically bound with Tibetan Buddhism and commonly depict deities or variations of Buddha in various forms from bronze Buddhist statues and shrines, to highly colorful thangka paintings and mandalas.
Tibetan architecture contains Oriental and Indian influences, and reflects a deeply Buddhist approach. The Buddhist wheel, along with two dragons, can be seen on nearly every Gompa in Tibet. The design of the Tibetan Chörtens can vary, from roundish walls in Kham to squarish, four-sided walls in Ladakh.
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 frequent earthquakes in the mountainous area.
Standing at 117 meters in height and 360 meters in width, the Potala Palace is considered as the most important example of Tibetan architecture. Formerly the residence of the Dalai Lama, 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.
See main article: Tibetan Music.
The music of Tibet reflects the cultural heritage of the trans-Himalayan region, centered in Tibet but also known wherever ethnic Tibetan groups are found in India, Bhutan, Nepal and further abroad. First and foremost Tibetan music is religious music, reflecting the profound influence of Tibetan Buddhism on the culture.
Tibetan music often involves chanting in Tibetan or Sanskrit, as an integral part of the religion. These chants are complex, often recitations of sacred texts or in celebration of various festivals. Yang 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 dance music is especially popular in the karaoke bars of the urban center of Tibet, Lhasa. Another form of popular music is the classical gar style, which is performed at rituals and ceremonies. Lu are a type of songs that feature glottal vibrations and high pitches. There are also epic bards who sing of Tibet's national hero Gesar.
See main article: Tibetan Festivals.
Tibet has various festivals which commonly are performed to worship the Buddha throughout the year. Losar 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, 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.
Since 2002, Tibetans in exile have allowed a Miss Tibet beauty contest in spite of concerns that this event is considered a Western influence. The beauty contest is condemned by the Tibetan government in exile.
See main article: Tibetan cuisine.
The most important crop in Tibet is barley, and dough made from barley flour called tsampa, is the staple food of Tibet. This is either rolled into noodles or made into steamed dumplings called momos. Meat dishes are likely to be yak, goat, or mutton, often dried, or cooked into a spicy stew with potatoes. Mustard seed is cultivated in Tibet, and therefore features heavily in its cuisine. Yak yoghurt, butter and cheese are frequently eaten, and well-prepared yoghurt is considered something of a prestige item. Butter tea is very popular to drink.
In recent years there have been a number of films produced about Tibet, most notably Hollywood films such as Seven Years in Tibet, starring Brad Pitt, and Kundun, a biography of the 14th Dalai Lama, directed by Martin Scorsese. Other films include Samsara, The Cup and the 1999 Himalaya, a French-American produced film with a Tibetan cast set in Nepal and Tibet. In 2005, exile Tibetan filmmaker Tenzing Sonam and his partner Ritu Sarin made Dreaming Lhasa, the first internationally recognized feature film to come out of the diaspora to explore the contemporary reality of Tibet.