Tibet, a mysterious and isolated land in the south of China’s mainland and the north of Nepal has been a hot topic of discussion for several decades now. Since the invasion by China in 1949, million of Tibetans including the Dalai Lama, have escaped Tibet and continue to protest for its autonomy from the outside.
Here is a list of eight facts you need to know about Tibet.
1) Tibet is the plateau region in the south of China. Its altitude ranges from 14,000 feet to 16,000 feet. It is one of the largest and highest highlands in the world. UNESCO considers it to be part of the Central Asia.
2) Tibet is currently occupied and administered by People’s Republic of China. It was once an independent kingdom. Various Dalai Lamas governed Tibet from the 16th century to 1959. Dalai Lama is the title of the head of Dge-lugs-pa, Yellow Hats, who are responsible for governing religious and administrative arenas within Tibet.
3) China’s invaded Tibet in 1950 to advance control over Tibet’s ample natural resources. In 1951, representatives of the 14th and current Dalai Lama signed a treaty with China forsaking independence in return of religious and cultural sovereignty. After the uprising of Tibetans in the China-controlled Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, Dalai Lama escaped to India with his 80,000 Tibetan followers. The present Dalai Lama, also a Nobel peace prize laureate, lives in Dharamsala, India, where the government-in-exile is based.
4) Before 1950, Tibet was an independent nation with an established sovereign government with its own monetary and postal systems, language and legal establishment. Now, China refers to Tibet as the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), which consists of U-Tsang and the western area of the Kham region. The rest of the Kham and the region of Amdo were merged into Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan. Before the takeover, Tibet was roughly the size of Western Europe.
5) Forty- seven percent of the world’s population depends on Tibet for fresh water. The plateau of Tibet is the source of Asia’s five largest rivers that provide water to over one billion people, which is why Tibet is sometimes referred to as the Water Tower of Asia.
6) The staple food for Tibetans is Tsampa – roasted barley flour, which is often served with salted butter tea. Salts and nuts are added to Tsampa for additional flavor.
7) There are two world heritage sites located in Tibet: the Potala Palace and Norbuligka, both which were used as the residences of the Dalai Lama. Potala Palace, a red and white colored fortress is 13-stories high with over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues and paintings.
8) Carrying a Tibetan flag, and possession of a picture of Dalai Lama is banned in Tibet. It is also a crime to sing and play the Tibetan national anthem. Since invading Tibet in 1950, China has killed an estimated 1 million Tibetans.