An Asian country under the control of China; located in the Himalayas; Also called: Thibet, Sitsang.
Autonomous region of SW China (Pinyin form Xizang);
area 1,221,600 sq km/471,538 sq mi
features Tibet occupies a barren plateau bounded S and SW by the Himalayas and N by the Kunlun Mountains, traversed W to E by the Bukamagna, Karakoram, and other mountain ranges, and having an average elevation of 4,000–4,500 m/13,000–15,000 ft. The Sutlej, Brahmaputra, and Indus rivers rise in Tibet, which has numerous lakes, many of which are salty. The yak is the main domestic animal
Tibet is an autonomous region of China, with its own People's Government and People's Congress. The controlling force in Tibet is the Communist Party of China, represented locally by First Secretary Wu Jinghua from 1985. Tibetan nationalists regard the province as being under colonial rule
industries wool, borax, salt, horn, musk, herbs, furs, gold, iron pyrites, lapis lazuli, mercury, textiles, chemicals, agricultural machinery
including 2,090,000 Tibetan nationalists (95.4%); many Chinese have settled in Tibet; 2 million Tibetans live in China outside Tibet
religion traditionally Lamaist (a form of Mahayana Buddhism)
Tibet was an independent kingdom from the 5th century AD. It came under nominal Chinese rule about 1700. From 1910–13 the capital, Lhasa, was occupied by Chinese troops, after which independence was reestablished. China regained control 1951 when the historic ruler and religious leader, the Dalai Lama, was driven from the country and the monks (who formed 25% of the population) were forced out of the monasteries. Between 1951 and 1959 the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) controlled Tibet, although the Dalai Lama returned as nominal spiritual and temporal head of state. In 1959 a Tibetan uprising spread from bordering regions to Lhasa and was supported by Tibet's local government. The rebellion was suppressed by the PLA, prompting the Dalai Lama and 9,000 Tibetans to flee to India. The Chinese proceeded to dissolve the Tibet local government, abolish serfdom, collectivize agriculture, and suppress Lamaism. In 1965 Tibet became an autonomous region of China. Chinese rule continued to be resented, however,
and the economy languished.
From 1979, the leadership in Beijing adopted a more liberal and pragmatic policy toward Tibet. Traditional agriculture, livestock, and trading practices were restored (under the 1980 slogan “relax, relax, and relax again”), a number of older political leaders and rebels were rehabilitated or pardoned, and the promotion of local Tibetan cadres was encouraged. In addition, a somewhat more tolerant attitude toward Lamaism has been adopted (temples damaged during the 1965–68 Cultural Revolution are being repaired) and attempts (thus far unsuccessful) have been made to persuade the Dalai Lama to return from exile.
Pro-independence demonstrations erupted in Lhasa in Sept-Oct 1987, repeatedly throughout 1988, and in March 1989. These were forcibly suppressed by Chinese troops. In May and Oct 1988 peacefully demonstrating monks and civilians were shot by police. In 1989 many anti-China demonstrators were shot and all foreigners were expelled. These clashes exhibit the continuing strength of nationalist feeling.
Since the late 1980s, the Chinese authorities have attempted to engineer economic growth in Lhasa, in the hope of diluting political tensions. A consumer culture has begun to emerge, with a generation of young Tibetans, who have not known the Dalai Lama, buying sports shoes, jeans, and video recorders. Lhasa became a special economic zone 1992, attracting thousands more Han Chinese and continuing the move toward a consumer-led culture.
The country is of immense strategic importance to China, being the site of 50,000–100,000 troops and a major nuclear missile base at Nagchuka.