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Xizang Zizhiqu (XZ) - Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of China
"There are many names for Tibet: the Forbidden Kingdom, Shangri-La, the Land of Snows, the Mystic Realm, the Hidden Kingdom on the Rooftop of the World. However, I call it the "Jewel in the Ice." Isolated for centuries from the outside world by imponderable barriers of towering rock and ice, Tibet's cold and dusty plateau, with its ancient Buddhist kingdoms and monastic institutions, had long been prized by explorers, cartographers, demographers, political and military strategists, and empire builders alike."Tibet is in the Southwestern part of China. It's border with Nepal runs along the center of the Himalayan Mountains. It consists of 7 prefecture's.
The great religious teacher, Padmasambhava was invited to Tibet and Buddhism was recognized as the state religion.
In the 13th century Tibet became an appendage of the Mongol Empire.
In the 15th century, the rise to power of the Gelugpa order of monks, whose lamas were believed to be reincarnations of their predecessors.
The great fifth Dalai Lama assumed power within Tibet, which was pacified with Mongol backing by 1656.
A series of Mongol invasions started in 1705. They were finally ousted by the Chinese, who were received as liberators by the Tibetans, and Emperor Kang Xi declared Tibet a protectorate of China - a historical precedent for the Communist takeover nearly 250 years later.
A Chinese military intervention took place in reaction to a Gurkha invasion from Nepal in 1788. From this time Manchu influence in Tibet receded.
In 1903-1910 the British signed several accords with Tibet, after the Dalai Lama had fled to Mongolia with a Russian 'adviser'.
In 1910, with the Manchu Qing Dynasty teetering on the verge of collapse, the Manchus invaded Tibet, driving the Dalai Lama once again into flight.
In 1950, Mao Tsetung's Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) invaded Tibet and it was closed to foreign visitors. The Dali Lama's government tentatively agreed to cooperate with the Chinese. The people continued to resist Chinese control and after large scale fighting broke out in 1959 the Dali Lama fled to India. In 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was founded. During the Cultural Revolution of 1966 to 1969, Chinese and Tibetan Red Guards shut down, looted, destroyed many monasteries. Before 1959, there were more than 2,500 monasteries, but only 70 remained after 'democratic reform' - a reduction of more than 97 percent by 1962. Over the same period, the number of 110,000 monks and nuns fell by 93 percent to only 7,000.
In 1978, China allowed Tibetans in exile to return freely (the only condition being that on their visa applications they gave their nationality as Chinese.)
In 1980 it was opened to foreign visitors, but tourists must be in groups (usually 4 or more) approved by the Chinese Government.
By the late '80s, the Chinese government said there were over 200 functioning monasteries
The traditional way of life of the Tibetan people has been somewhat modernized. A sample survey in 2002 showed that for every 100 urban households, there are 212 bicycles, 88 color televisions, 84 radio cassette recorders, 42 washing machines, 24 refrigerators and 26 cameras.
In 2006 china finished railroad line connecting Beijing and Lhasa. China says the 1,140km (710-mile) line will bring major opportunities to a poor region. But critics fear it will be used by China to assert its control over a contested border region. They also say the railway line threatens not only the delicate Himalayan environment, but also the ancient Tibetan culture.
In the spring of 2008, prior to the 2008 Olympics to be held in Beijing, monks staged a march through Lhasa to mark the anniversary of the 1959 uprising. It grew into a full-scale clash between Tibetans and police and spread to neighboring Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces.
The Dalai Lama decried what he called the "cultural genocide" taking place in his homeland.
After the first two weeks or unrest the Tibetan government in exile in the northern India said that about 140 Tibetans have been killed, but the Chinese government has not issued any figures.
Tibet Info at:
China at travel.state.gov
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