Tibetan Autonomous Region

This article is about the administrative region of China. For the ethno-cultural region, see Tibet. For other uses, see Tibet (disambiguation).
Tibet Autonomous Region
Xizang Autonomous Region
Autonomous region
Name transcription(s)
 • Chinese 西藏自治区 (Xīzàng Zìzhìqū)
 • Abbreviation 藏 (pinyin: Zàng)
 • Tibetan script
 • Wylie transliteration Bod-rang-skyong-ljongs
Poi Ranggyong Jong
Named for From word Tibat of disputed origin.
Capital
(and largest city)
Lhasa
Divisions 7 prefectures, 73 counties, 692 townships
Government
 • Secretary Chen Quanguo
 • Governor Losang Jamcan
Area
 • Total 1,228,400 km2 (474,300 sq mi)
Area rank 2nd
Population (2010)[1][2]
 • Total 3,002,166
 • Rank 31st
 • Density 2.2/km2 (6/sq mi)
 • Density rank 33rd
Demographics
 • Ethnic composition 92.8% Tibetan
6.1% Han
0.3% Monpa
0.3% Hui
0.2% others
 • Languages and dialects Tibetan, Mandarin Chinese
ISO 3166 code CN-54
GDP (2011) CNY 60.5 billion
US$ 9.6 billion (32nd)
 - per capita CNY 17,319
US$ 2,558 (28th)
HDI (2008) 0.630 (medium) (31st)
Website http://www.xizang.gov.cn/

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), Tibet or Xizang for short, also called the Xizang Autonomous Region (Tibetan: བོད་རང་སྐྱོང་ལྗོངས།; Chinese: 西藏自治区) is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It was created in 1965 on the basis of Tibet's absorption into the PRC in 1951.

Within the People's Republic of China, Tibet is identified with the Autonomous Region. The current borders of Tibet were generally established in the 18th century[3] and include about half of ethno-cultural Tibet. The Tibet Autonomous Region is the second-largest province-level division of China by area, spanning over 1,200,000 square kilometres (460,000 sq mi), after Xinjiang, and mostly due to its harsh and rugged terrain, is the least densely populated provincial-level division of the PRC.

History

Main article: History of Tibet

Modern scholars still debate on whether the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) had sovereignty over Tibet [4][5][6] prior to the conquest of Tibet in 1642. While Tibet has formally been a protectorate of China since 1644 as part of the Qing Dynasty, from 1912 to 1950 Tibet was dissolved of suzerainty under China proper as a result of the 1911 Revolution and Japanese occupation during WW2. Other parts of ethno-cultural Tibet (eastern Kham and Amdo) have also been under the administration of the Chinese dynastic government since the mid-eighteenth century;[7] today they are distributed among the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan and Yunnan. (See also: Xikang province)

In 1950, the People's Liberation Army defeated the Tibetan army in a battle fought near the city of Chamdo. In 1951, the Tibetan representatives signed a seventeen-point agreement with the Chinese Central People's Government affirming China's sovereignty over Tibet. The agreement was ratified in Lhasa a few months later.[8][9] Although the 17-point agreement had provided for an autonomous administration led by the Dalai Lama, a "Preparatory Committee for the Autonomous Region of Tibet" (PCART) was established in 1955 to create a parallel system of administration along Communist lines. The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 and renounced the 17-point agreement. PCART was reorganized as the Tibet Autonomous Region in 1965, thus making Tibet an administrative division on the same legal footing as a Chinese province.

Geography

Main article: Geography of Tibet

The Tibet Autonomous Region is located on the Tibetan Plateau, the highest region on earth. In northern Tibet elevations reach an average of over 4,572 metres (15,000 ft). Mount Everest is located on Tibet's border with Nepal.

The Chinese provincial-level areas of Xinjiang, Qinghai and Sichuan lie to the north, northeast, and east, respectively, of the Tibet AR. There is also a short border with Yunnan province to the southeast. The PRC has border disputes with the Republic of India over the McMahon Line of Arunachal Pradesh, known to the Chinese as "South Tibet". The disputed territory of Aksai Chin is to the west, and its boundary with that region is not defined. The other countries to the south are Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.


Physically, the Tibet AR may be divided into two parts, the "lakes region" in the west and north-west, and the "river region", which spreads out on three sides of the former on the east, south, and west. Both regions receive limited amounts of rainfall as they lie in the rain shadow of the Himalayas, however the region names are useful in contrasting their hydrological structures, and also in contrasting their different cultural uses which is nomadic in the lake region and agricultural in the river region.[10] On the south the Tibet AR is bounded by the Himalayas, and on the north by a broad mountain system. The system at no point narrows to a single range; generally there are three or four across its breadth. As a whole the system forms the watershed between rivers flowing to the Indian Ocean − the Indus, Brahmaputra and Salween and its tributaries − and the streams flowing into the undrained salt lakes to the north.

The lake region extends from the Pangong Tso Lake in Ladakh, Lake Rakshastal, Yamdrok Lake and Lake Manasarovar near the source of the Indus River, to the sources of the Salween, the Mekong and the Yangtze. Other lakes include Dagze Co, Namtso, and Pagsum Co. The lake region is an wind-swept Alpine grassland. This region is called the Chang Tang (Byang sang) or 'Northern Plateau' by the people of Tibet. It is some 1,100 km (680 mi) broad, and covers an area about equal to that of France. Due to its great distance from the ocean it is extremely arid and possesses no river outlet. The mountain ranges are spread out, rounded, disconnected, separated by flat valleys relatively of little depth.

The Tibet AR is dotted over with large and small lakes, generally salt or alkaline, and intersected by streams. Due to the presence of discontinuous permafrost over the Chang Tang, the soil is boggy and covered with tussocks of grass, thus resembling the Siberian tundra. Salt and fresh-water lakes are intermingled. The lakes are generally without outlet, or have only a small effluent. The deposits consist of soda, potash, borax and common salt. The lake region is noted for a vast number of hot springs, which are widely distributed between the Himalaya and 34° N., but are most numerous to the west of Tengri Nor (north-west of Lhasa). So intense is the cold in this part of Tibet that these springs are sometimes represented by columns of ice, the nearly boiling water having frozen in the act of ejection.

The river region is characterised by fertile mountain valleys and includes the Yarlung Tsangpo River (the upper courses of the Brahmaputra) and its major tributary, the Nyang River, the Salween, the Yangtze, the Mekong, and the Yellow River. The Yarlung Tsangpo Canyon, formed by a horseshoe bend in the river where it flows around Namcha Barwa, is the deepest, and possibly longest canyon in the world.[11] Among the mountains there are many narrow valleys. The valleys of Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse and the Brahmaputra are free from permafrost, covered with good soil and groves of trees, well irrigated, and richly cultivated.

The South Tibet Valley is formed by the Yarlung Tsangpo River during its middle reaches, where it travels from west to east. The valley is approximately 1200 kilometres long and 300 kilometres wide. The valley descends from 4500 metres above sea level to 2800 metres. The mountains on either side of the valley are usually around 5000 metres high.[12][13] Lakes here include Lake Paiku and Lake Puma Yumco.

Government

The Tibet Autonomous Region is a province-level entity of the People's Republic of China. It is governed by a People's Government, led by a Chairman. In practice, however, the Chairman is subordinate to the branch secretary of the Communist Party of China. As a matter of convention, the Chairman has almost always been an ethnic Tibetan, while the party secretary has almost always been a non-Tibetan. The current Chairman is Losang Jamcan and the current party secretary is Chen Quanguo.[14] India’s request, to open a consulate in Lhasa, capital of Tibet has been rejected by Beijing. Beijing, instead has offered Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. According to diplomatic sources familiar with the developments, the Chinese don’t want more consulates in Lhasa, where only Nepal has one.[15]

Administrative divisions

Main article: List of administrative divisions of Tibet Autonomous Region

Tibet Autonomous Region is divided into one prefecture-level city and six prefectures.

Map
# Conventional[16] Administrative Seat Tibetan script
Wylie
Tibetan pinyin
Hanzi
Hanyu Pinyin
Population (2010)
Prefecture-level city
5 Lhasa Chengguan District
lha-sa grong-khyer
Lhasa Chongkyir
拉萨市
Lāsà Shì
559,423
Prefecture
1 Ngari Prefecture Gar County
mnga'-ris sa-khul
Ngari Sakü
阿里地区
Ālǐ Dìqū
95,465
2 Nagqu Prefecture Nagqu County
nag-chu sa-khul
Nagqu Sakü
那曲地区
Nàqū Dìqū
462,382
3 Chamdo Prefecture Chamdo County
chab-mdo sa-khul
Qamdo Sakü
昌都地区
Chāngdū Dìqū
657,505
4 Shigatse Prefecture Shigatse
gzhis-ka-rtse sa-khul
Xigazê Sakü
日喀则地区
Rìkāzé Dìqū
703,292
6 Shannan Prefecture Nêdong County
lho-kha sa-khul
Lhoka Sakü
山南地区
Shānnán Dìqū
328,990
7 Nyingchi Prefecture Nyingchi County
nying-khri sa-khul
Nyingchi Sakü
林芝地区
Línzhī Dìqū
195,109

These in turn are subdivided into a total of seventy-one counties, one district (Chengguan District, Lhasa) and one county-level city (Xigazê).



Demographics

With an average of only 2 people per square kilometer, The Tibet Autonomous Region has the lowest population density among any of the Chinese province-level administrative regions, mostly due to its harsh and rugged terrain.[17]

In 2009 the Tibetan population was 2.91 million. The ethnic Tibetans, comprising 92.8% of the population,[18] mainly adhere to Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, although there is an ethnic Tibetan Muslim community.[19] Other Muslim ethnic groups such as the Hui and the Salar have inhabited the Region. There is also a tiny Tibetan Christian community in eastern Tibet. Smaller tribal groups such as the Monpa and Lhoba, who follow a combination of Tibetan Buddhism and spirit worship, are found mainly in the southeastern parts of the region.

Historically, the population of Tibet consisted of primarily ethnic Tibetans. According to tradition the original ancestors of the Tibetan people, as represented by the six red bands in the Tibetan flag, are: the Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru and Ra. Other traditional ethnic groups with significant population or with the majority of the ethnic group reside in Tibet include Bai people, Blang, Bonan, Dongxiang, Han, Hui people, Lhoba, Lisu people, Miao, Mongols, Monguor (Tu people), Menba (Monpa), Mosuo, Nakhi, Qiang, Nu people, Pumi, Salar, and Yi people.

According to Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition published between 1910–1911, total population of Tibetan capital of Lhasa, including the lamas in the city and vicinity, was about 30,000, and the permanent population also included Chinese families (about 2,000).[20]

Most Han people in the TAR (6.1% of the total population)[18] are recent migrants, because all of the Han were expelled from Outer Tibet following the British expedition until the establishment of the PRC.[21] Some ethnic Tibetans claim that, with the 2006 completion of the Qingzang Railway connecting the TAR to Qinghai Province, there has been an "acceleration" of Han migration into the region.[22] The Central Tibetan Administration of the Dalai Lama claims that the PRC has actively swamped Tibet with migrants in order to alter Tibet's demographic makeup.[23]

Towns and villages in Tibet

Further information: List of towns and villages in the Tibet Autonomous Region

"Comfortable Housing"

Beginning in 2006, 280,000 Tibetans who lived in traditional villages and as nomadic herdsmen have been relocated into villages and towns near roads which have concrete houses with water and sewer. In those areas new housing was built and existing houses were remodeled to serve a total of 2 million people. Those living in substandard housing were required to dismantle their houses and remodel them to government standards. Much of the expense was borne by the residents themselves often through bank loans. The population transfer program, which was first implemented in Qinghai where 300,000 nomads were resettled, is called “Comfortable Housing.” which is part of the “Build a New Socialist Countryside” program. Its effect on Tibetan culture has been criticized by exiles and human rights groups.[24] Finding employment is difficult for relocated persons who have only agrarian skills. Income shortfalls are made up for by government support programs.[25] It was announced in 2011 that 20,000 Communist Party cadre were to be placed in the new towns.[24]

Economy

Main article: Economy of Tibet

The Tibetans traditionally depended upon agriculture for survival. Since the 1980s, however, other jobs such as taxi-driving and hotel retail work have become available in the wake of Chinese economic reform. In 2011, Tibet's nominal GDP topped 60.5 billion yuan (US$9.60 billion), nearly more than seven times as big as the 11.78 billion yuan (US$1.47 billion) in 2000. In the past five years, Tibet's annual GDP growth has averaged 12%.[17]

While traditional agricultural work and animal husbandry continue to lead the area's economy, in 2005 the tertiary sector contributed more than half of its GDP growth, the first time it surpassed the area's primary industry.[26][27] Rich reserves of natural resources and raw materials have yet to lead to the creation of a strong secondary sector, due in large part to the province's inhospitable terrain, low population density, an underdeveloped infrastructure and the high cost of extraction.[17]

The collection of caterpillar fungus (Cordyceps sinensis, known in Tibetan as Yartsa Gunbu) in late spring / early summer is in many areas the most important source of cash for rural households. It contributes an average of 40% to rural cash income and 8.5% to the TAR's GDP.[28] The re-opening of the Nathu La pass (on southern Tibet's border with India) should facilitate Sino-Indian border trade and boost Tibet's economy.[29]

In 2008, Chinese news media reported that the per capita disposable incomes of urban and rural residents in Tibet averaged 12,482 yuan (US$1,798) and 3,176 yuan (US$457) respectively.[30]

The China Western Development policy was adopted in 2000 by the central government to boost economic development in western China, including the Tibet Autonomous Region.

Tourism

Tourists were first permitted to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region in the 1980s. While the main attraction is the Potala Palace in Lhasa, there are many other popular tourist destinations including the Jokhang Temple, Namtso Lake, and Tashilhunpo Monastery.[31]

Transport

Airports

The civil airports in Tibet are Lhasa Gonggar Airport,[32] Qamdo Bangda Airport, Nyingchi Airport, and the Gunsa Airport.

Gunsa Airport in Ngari Prefecture began operations on July 1, 2010, to become the fourth civil airport in China's Tibet Autonomous Region.[33]

The "Peace Airport" for Shigatse Prefecture was completed on October 30, 2010.[34]

Nagqu Dagring Airport is expected to become the world's highest altitude airport by 2014 at 4,436 meters above sea level.[35]

See also

Footnotes

Further reading

  • Hannue, Dialogues Tibetan Dialogues Han, travelogue from Tibet - by a woman who's been travelling around Tibet for over a decade, ISBN 978-988-97999-3-9
  • Sorrel Wilby, Journey Across Tibet: A Young Woman's 1900-Mile Trek Across the Rooftop of the World, Contemporary Books (1988), hardcover, 236 pages, ISBN 0-8092-4608-2.
  • Hillman, Ben, ‘China’s Many Tibets: Diqing as a model for ‘development with Tibetan characteristics?’ Asian Ethnicity, Vol. 11, No. 2, June 2010, pp 269–277.

External links

  • Tibet Autonomous Region official website
  • HKTDC

az:Tibet
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