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Tibet Geography

Tibet, a rich and beautiful land, is located at the main part of Qinghai-Tibet plateau, south-West frontier of China. Tibet borders with Sichuan, Yuannan, Qinghai and Xinjiang; to the south contiguous to India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Burma, and bounded by Kashmir on the west.

When the word Tibet is mentioned something icy chils the readers nerves. In fact it snows only once or twice in a year and owing to the perpetuity of bright sunshine, it is not at all cold during the daytime even in the coldest of the winter. Tibet is so sunny that it produces a year-round sunshine of over 3,000 hours in a year. Its old name-"land of snow" - the name by which Tibet is almost popularly known as, is always thickly covered with snow with hardly any signs of inhabitation. In fact, it is correct only when it is referred to the world greatest ranges located in Ima, the Tisi, and like. These ranges run by leaps and bounds across the country showing their beautiful snow covered peaks against the bluest of skies.

Geographically, Tibet can be divided into three major parts, the east, north and south. The eastern part is forest region, occupying approximately one-fourth of the land. Virgin forests run the entire breadth and length of this part of Tibet. The northern part is open grassland, where nomads and yak and sheep dwell here. This part occupies approximately half of Tibet. The southern and central part is agricultural region, occupying about one-fourth of Tibet's land area. With all major Tibetan cities and towns such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse ad Tsetang located in this area, it is considered the cultural center of Tibet. The total area of the Tibet Autonomous Region is 1,200,000 square kilometers and its population is 1,890,000. The region is administratively divided into one municipality and six prefectures. The municipality is Lhasa, while the six prefectures are Shigatse, Ngari, Lhaoka, Chamdo, Nakchu and Nyingtri(kongpo). The People's Government of the Tibet Autonomous Region exercises the hightest adminis-trative authority in Tibet.

Tibetan history
Tibetan history can be traced thousands of years back. However, the written history only dates back to the 7th century when Songtsan Gampo, the 33rd Tibetan king, sent his minister Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit who on his return invented the present Tibetan script based on Sanskrit. Tibet's history can be divided into four periods:

1. The Tsanpo's Period
This period starts from Nyatri Tsanpo, the first of the Tsanpos, in 127 B.C (historians differ in view of the date, but this date is taken from the White Annales, a reliable book on Tibetan history) and ends in 842 A.D. at the death of Lang Dharma, the last of the Tsanpos, who was assassinated by a Buddhist monk owing to Lang Dharma's ruthless persecution of Buddhism. During this period some 42 Tsanpos had ruled over Tibet among which Songtsan Gampo's rule was considered as the zenith. Songtsan Gamoi was an outstanding ruler, he unified Tibet, changed his capital to Lhasa, sent Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit and promulgated a script for the Tibetan on the latter's arrival to Tibet, married Princess Wencheng of the tang Court and Pricess Bhrikuti Debi of Nepal, built the Potala and the temple and the temple of Jokhang.

2. The period of Decentrailzation
This period began in 842 A.D. the year of Lang Dharma's assassination, and ended in about 1260 A.D, when Pagpa, the Abbot of Sakya monastery, became a vassal of Kublai Khan, the first Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. During this period a little is known in history except that Tibet became decentralized into a number of petty principalities.

3. The period of Sakya, Pagdu, and Karmapa's Rule
This period began with Sakya's rule over Tibet, followed first by Pagdu's rule in Lhaoka and then by Karmara's rule in the Tsang region (Shigatse). The sakya period was the time when Tibet officially became an inseparable part of China.This period lasted from 1260 A.D to 1642 A.D during which political powers centered in the three regions of Sakya, Pagdu, and tsang successively ruled over Tibet.

4. The period of the gandan Podrang's Administration
This period is the period in which the Dalai Lama ruled Tibet. It started in 1642 A.D. when the 5th Dalai Lama overtook the ruling power from the Tsang ruler. It basically ended in 1951 when Tibet was liberated and came to a complete end in 1959 when rebellion led by the Dalai Lama was pacified and the People's Government of the Tibet, Autonomous Region was set up.

Tibet at a glance
Tibet lies at the centre of Asia, with an area of 2.5 million square kilometers. The earth's highest mountains, a vast arid plateau and great river valleys make up the physical homeland of 6 million Tibetans. It has an average altitude of 13,000 feet above sea level.
Tibet is comprised of the three provinces of Amdo (now split by China into the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu & Sichuan), Kham (largely incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai), and U-Tsang (which, together with western Kham, is today referred to by China as the Tibet Autonomous Region).
The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) comprises less than half of historic Tibet and was created by China in 1965 for administrative reasons. It is important to note that when Chinese officials and publications use the term "Tibet" they mean only the TAR. Tibetans use the term Tibet to mean the three provinces described above, i.e., the area traditionally known as Tibet before the 1949-50 invasion.
Despite over 40 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Tibetan people refuse to be conquered and subjugated by China. The present Chinese policy, a combination of demographic and economic manipulation, and discrimination, aims to suppress the Tibetan issue by changing the very character and the identity of Tibet and its people. Today Tibetans are outnumbered by Han Chinese population in their own homeland.

SIZE: 2.5 million sq. km.
CAPITAL: Lhasa
POPULATION: 6 million Tibetans and an estimated 7.5 million Chinese, most of who are in Kham and Amdo.
LANGUAGE: Tibetan (of the Tibeto-Burmese language family). The official language is Chinese.
STAPLE FOOD: Tsampa (roasted barley flour)
NATIONAL DRINK: Salted butter tea
TYPICAL ANIMALS: Wild yak, Bharal (blue) sheep, Musk deer, Tibetan antelope, Tibetan gazelle, Kyang (wild ass), Pica
TYPICAL BIRDS:  Black necked crane, Lammergeier, Great crested grebe, Bar-headed goose, Ruddy shell, duck, Ibis-bill
MAJOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS: Rampant deforestation in Eastern Tibet, poaching of large mammals
AVERAGE ALTITUDE: 14,000 ft.
HIGHEST MOUNTAIN: Chomo Langma (Mt. Everest) 29, 028 ft.
AVERAGE RAINFALL: Varies widely. In the west it is 1 mm in Jan. to 25 mm in July. In the east, it is 25-50 in Jan. and 800 in July
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE: July 58 f; Jan. 24 f.
MINERAL DEPOSITS: Borax, uranium, iron, chromites, gold
MAJOR RIVERS: Mekong, Yangtse, Salween, Tsangpo, Yellow
ECONOMY: Tibetans: predominantly in agriculture and animal husbandry. Chinese: predominantly in government, commerce and the service sector.
PROVINCES: U-Tsang (Central Tibet), Amdo (N.E. Tibet), Kham (S.E. Tibet)
BORDERING COUNTRIES: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, China
NATIONAL FLAG: Snow lions with red and blue rays. Outlawed in Tibet
GOVERNMENT: Communist