Tibet In Exile:

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This text is published under the permission of
The Office of Tibet,
the official agency of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in London. 

Tibet at a glance

The historic map of Tibet prior to the Chinese invasion

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.
POPULATION 6 million Tibetans and an estimated 7.5 million Chinese, most of whom 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 shel duck, Ibis-bill
Rampant deforestation in Eastern Tibet, poaching of large mammals
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, chromite, 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.
The 14th Dalai Lama. In exile in Dharamsala, India.

POPULATION Total: 131,000. India 100,000; Nepal 25,000; Bhutan 2,000;Switzerland 2,000; Canada 600; United States 1500.
GOVERNMENT Democratic. Popular & electoral college voting systems
HEAD OF STATE His Holiness the Dalai Lama
CABINET MINISTRIES Education, Finance, Health, Home Affairs, Information & International Relations, Religion & Culture and Security
INDEPENDENT COMMISSIONS Tibetan Supreme Justice Commission, Tibetan Central Election Commission, Public Service Commission, Audit Commission
ELECTION SCHEDULE Assembly & Cabinet elections every 5 years
SEAT OF GOVERNMENT Dharamsala, northern India
INT'L GOVT. OFFICES Budapest, Canberra, Paris, Geneva, Kathmandu, London, Moscow, New Delhi, New York, Tokyo, Zurich,
GOV'T PUBLICATIONS Sheja (ribetan), Tibetan Bulletin, News Tibet (English), Tibbat Bulletin (Hindi), Actualites Tibetaines (French)
INDEPENDENT PUBLICATIONS: Mangtso, Da-sar, Da-sa Phongya, Rangzen (Tibetan): Xizang Luntan (Chinese), Tibetan Review, Rangren (English)
LITERACY Estimated at 6O%
GOVERNMENT INCOME Annual voluntary tax, business revenue, donations
NATIONAL FLAG A mountain with snow lions & red and blue rays over sun
NATIONAL HOLIDAYS Maach 10 - Uprising day; July 6 - Birthday of the Dalai Lama; Sept 2 - Democracy Day; New Year (date changes)
MAJOR INSTITUTIONS Institute of Performing Arts, Library, School of Dialectics, Medical Institute, Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies
TIBETAN NGOs Women's Organization, Youth Congress, Amnye Machen
LANGUAGE Tibetan. The host country's language is also spoken
RELIGION Tibetan Buddhism
ECONOMY Agriculture, agro-industrial, handicrafts, small business, carpet weaving
LEGAL STATUS Stateless. A small percentage of Tibetans bear foreign passports. Most hold Indian registration certificates