Essay on Tibet

This essay has a total of 2019 words and 9 pages.

Tibet



Tibet, China
Tibet, also known as TAR, is a democratic region in China that is very poor, and is
mainly inhabited by Buddhists. Throughout its long history, Tibet at times has governed
itself as an independent state and at other times has had various levels of association with
China. Whatever China 's involvement in Tibetan affairs, Tibet's internal government was
for centuries a theocracy, under the leadership of Buddhist lamas, or monks. In 1959 the
Dalai Lama fled to India during a Tibetan revolt against Chinese control in the region.
China then took complete control of Tibet, installing a sympathetic Tibetan ruler and, in
1965, replacing with a Communist administration (Encarta 1).
The TAR covers an area of about 472,000 square miles. It is bounded on the north
by Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province; on the east by Sichuan and
Yunnan provinces; on the south by Myanmar (formally known as Burma), India, Bhutan,
and Nepal; and on the west by India. Lhasa is the region's capital and largest city (Schaller
72).
With an average elevation of more than 12,000 feet, Tibet is the highest region on
earth, and for this reason, it is sometimes called the Roof of the World. Most of the people
in Tibet live at elevations ranging from 3,900 feet to 16,700 feet. Tibet is also one of the
world's most isolated regions, surrounded by the Himalayas on the south, the Karakorum
Range on the west, and the Kunlun Mountains on the north (Encarta 1).
The southern part of Tibet is situated entirely within the Himalayas, and many of
the world's highest summits are located in the Himalayan chain, which extends along
Tibet's southern frontier. Among the peaks are Mount Everest(29,028 feet), the world's
largest mountain; Namcha Barwa(25,445 feet); and Gurla Mandhata(25,354 feet). The
Kailas Range, a chain of the Himalayas, lies parallel to and north of the main chain and
has peaks of up to 22,000 feet. Between the Kailas Range and the main chain is a river
valley that extends about 600 miles. The Brahmaputra River (known in Tibet as the
Yarlung Zangbo) flows from west to east through most of this valley (Encarta 1).
The mountains in Tibet form Asia's principal watershed, or dividing line, between
westward-flowing and eastward-flowing streams, and Tibet is the source of the continent's
major rivers. The Brahmaputra is Tibet's most important river. The Indus, Ganges, and
Sutlej rivers have their headwaters in western Tibet. Many of Tibet's rivers have potential
for hydroelectric development (Encarta 1).
Vegetation on the Tibetan Plateau is extremely sparse, consisting mainly of grasses
and shrubs. Scattered wooded areas occur in extreme west and east. Most vegetation,
however, is concentrated in Brahmaputra, Indus, and Sutlej river valleys. These areas
support most species of trees, including conifers, oaks, cypresses, poplars, and maples.
Apple, peach, pear, and apricot trees are cultivated in the valleys (Encarta 1).
Tibet is home to a variety of wildlife. Musk deer, wild sheep, wild goats, wild
donkeys, yaks, and Tibetan antelope are common in mountainous areas. Other large
mammals include leopards, tigers, bears, wolves, foxes, and monkeys. Bird life includes
geese, gulls, teal, and other species of waterfowl, and also pheasants and sand grouse
(Encarta 1).
Tibet has a dry, cold climate with an average annual temperature of 34 degrees
Fahrenheit. It is very bitter in Tibet in the winter (Harrer 39). Temperatures in the
mountains and plateaus are especially cold, and strong winds are common year round. The
river valleys experience a more moderate climate. Lhasa and central Tibet have an average
temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit in December and an average of 60 degrees
Fahrenheit in June. The daily temperature range is great. On a typical summer day, the
temperature can rise from 37 degrees Fahrenheit before sunrise to 81 degrees Fahrenheit
before midday. In general, temperatures in Tibet frequently drop suddenly after sunset.
The average annual precipitation is 15 inches (Encarta 2).
The Tibet pamphlet states that Tibet is rich in mineral resources, although few have
been exploited due to inaccessibility, a lack of industrial capacity, and Buddhist
admonitions against disturbing the earth for fear of harming living creatures. Gold is
found in many areas, and significant deposits of iron ore, coal, salt, and borax are also
present. Other known resources include oil shale, manganese, lead, zinc, quartz, and
graphite (14).
Since 1959 the Chinese government has capitalized on some of Tibet's resources by
mining chromite, tinkalite, and boromagnesite; constructing hydroelectric and geothermal
plants; and logging timber. In eastern Tibet, serious environmental concerns have been
raised over the extent of pollution and deforestation resulting from these projects (Encarta
2).
The Population of TAR was 2,196,010 in 1990, yielding an average population
density of 4.7 persons per square mile, the lowest of any region in China. The vast majority
of Tibet's people live in rural areas, and a large but diminishing part of the people is
nomadic or seminomadic. Lhasa, the capital and largest city, is Tibet's principal center of
trade, tourism, commerce, education, and government, and the headquarters of the
region's major religious institutions (Encarta 2).
Most people in Tibet are ethnic Tibetans, and the largest minority is Han Chinese,
China's majority ethnic group. According to the 1990 census, 3.7 percent of Tibet's
population was Han Chinese; however, this and other population figures are believed to be
in complete, as they do not include the much larger number of Han who have come to Tibet
looking for work opportunities and have not officially registered as residents (Encarta 2).

Most people in Tibet speak Tibetan, a language of the Tibeto-Burman subfamily of
Sino-Tibetan languages. Various dialects of Tibetan are spoken in different regions.
Putonghua (Mandarin) Chinese, China's official language, is also used, particularly by Han
Chinese, government agencies, and most commercial enterprises. People can request the
use of Tibetan within the legal system (Encarta 2).
Tibetan Buddhism is the religion of the overwhelming majority of the population.
Buddhism was introduced into Tibet from India, originally in the 7th century, and then,
after a period of persecution, it was reintroduced in the 11th century (Encarta 2).
Historically, religion permeated every aspect of Tibetan life. The only educational
system was religious, all cultural and intellectual activities were centered around religious
beliefs, and the heads of government were Buddhist monks (Encarta 2).
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