Tibet


Basic facts

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Tibet - "Top of the World"


The area of Tibet (TAR) is more than three times the swedish, approx. 1.2 mill. sq km, which is about 1/8 of Chinas area. Tibet is the highest inhabited highaltituded area in the world, 4 - 5000 mas. The major part of the country is stonedesert and is situated on the same latitude as the Sahara desert in Africa.
Tibet is sparsely populated and the tibetans belongs to the mongolian etchnic group. The tibetan language is belonging to the Tibeto-Burmese language family.

Tibet is a very old nation and was founded about 627 AC, when King Songtsen Gampo finshed his fathers work to unity several smaller kingdoms. In 641 AC he introduced Buddhism and started to build the Jokhang and the Ramoche temples in Lhasa.

The historical Tibet includes the provinces of U-Tsang, Kham och Amdo and was once 2.5 million sq km large. The province of Amdo and the major part of the province of Kham are today integrated, occupied, with China. Tibet of today, The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR),   comprises less than half of the historic country and was created by China on September 9, 1965 of administrative reasons. The area of TAR is approx. 1.2 mill. sq km which is less than 50 % of the original area.

In 1949 the chinese started the invasions of Tibet who culminated on October 7, 1950 when more than 40 000 chinese soldiers attacked, and went into eight different tibetan regions.
 
On March 10, 1959 the tibetans started one of the largets protest actions against the chinese occupation. On March 17, Dalai Lama and more than 80 000 tibetans flew to India. On March 19, tibetan troops joined the peoples uprising. On March 23 the uprising was suppressed. In April the chinese started "democratic reforms" which resulted in that thousands of tibetans were executed, sent to prison or to labour-camps. Destruction of monasteries began.

Dalai Lama has since 1959 not been allowed to return to his country, or to his people. His struggle for a free Tibets since his exile resulted in the Nobels Peace Prize in 1989.

During the chinese "Cultural Revolution", 1966 - 1976, more than 6 200 monasteries and other religious buildings were destroyed! Some of them has now been rebuilt or restored by the tibetans. Regretfully many cultural treasures are dissapeared for ever!

I came to Tibet by trekking the old pilgrim-trail from Simikot in Nepal to Sher in Tibet. The trail openened  for trekkers in 1993, if you go in a group and hire a nepalese liason officer. Simikot is accessible with plane from the town Nepalgunj. The trail follows the river Humla Karnali and it takes 5 - 6 days to trekk, with support from a nepalese staff. You follow the beutiful and fertile Humla Karnali valley from 2 900 mas and reach the highest point at Nara Langa, 4 550 mas, just before the tibetan border. After crossing the Humla-river you have to climb up hill to the chinese border control in the small village of Sher.

From Sher I went to Darchen, a small barren village on the big Bharka-plain. Darchen is located close to the holy mountain Kailash, which is considered to be the most holy pilgrim-target by four asian religions; hindus, buddhists, jain and bon, the old tibetan religion. Late april/beginning of May the Saga Dawa festival takes place at Tarboche, close to Darchen. Hundred of pilgrims gather for celebrating, and doing "The Kailash Kora", a holy trekk that gives remission of sins and rebirth. The famous swedish explorer Sven Hedin was the first westerner to walk the khora in 1907.

The area around Kailash is considered to be one of the most remote areas on earth to visit according to Lonely Planet, and for that reason very few tourists have been here.

After participating in the Saga Dawa festival I started the more than 1 200 kilometer long journey to Lhasa. The trip was made in a 4-WD jeep and a truck with food and fuel supply, which is the only possibilty to make this trip through this wast and barren land, sometimes with no road available. 

When driving on the big plain you meet drokpas, the nomads, living here with their yak- and sheepherds. If you are lucky you will be invited to their tents, woven of yakwool.

On the trip to Lhasa I also visited Tibets second largets town Shigatse. Here the important Tashilunpo monastery is located. The monastery is the home of Panchen Lama, Tibets second highest religious leader.

In Gyantse you find the Kumbum stupa, an architectural masterpiece, with a mix of tibetan, nepalese and chinese religious traditions.

The highest located monastery in the world can be found in Rongbuk, approx. 5 000 mas, on the foothills of Mount Everest. It was heavily damaged during the chinese "Culturerevolution" but is now rebuilt and run by nuns. If the weather is to bad for camping, you can rent a room, very dirty but cheap, from the nuns. Rongbuk is a good starting point for trekks to, or beyond, the Everest Base Camp.

My five week long journey through Tibet ended in the capital Lhasa, a city founded more than 1 600 years ago. Today there are more chinese inhabitants in the city than tibetans, which gives you a strange feeling. Here I visited the Potala-palace, founded by the 5th Dalai Lama in 1649, and since than home of the all the Dalai Lamas. Here you also can visit the Jokhang temple, Tibets oldes and most sacred. Inside the temple you find the statue of Jowo Sakyamuni, The Present Buddha. The temple was founded by King Songtsen Gampo in the 5th century. The big protestactions against the chinese occupation in 1959 started in the Jokhang, and the outcome of the protests were severe with many tibetans killed, imprisoned or sent to labour camps.
In the heart of Bharkor, the old town, encircling the Jokhang, you can join the tibetans in a khora, which gives you good possibilities to get a glimpse of peoples common life.

The Drepung and Sera monasteries are located just outside Lhasa, and are two very interesting places to visit.
The Drepung monastery was once the largest in the world housing 10 000 monks. It was heavily damaged during the culturerevolution, but is now restored into good condition. Today only about 1 000 monks are living here. Close by is the temple where the Stateoracle lived.
The Sera monastery is an attractive touristtarget in the afternoon, when the monks have their debatinghour in the garden. With high voices and strong gestures the monks are training to  argument and convince each other.
The Sera monks once predicted the chinese invasion when they saw Tibetan Goods figthing demons and lost the battle. At the same time the Buddha with the Horsehead started to bleed. During my visit the monastery was under renovation.

Highest points during the trip:

The trek from Everest Base Camp towards the Rongbuk-glacier, approx. 5 300 mas.

Lamar La, 5 662 mas, on the road from Tingri to Rongbuk was the highest pass we drove over. The view from the pass is called "Top of the World". From here you can see four of the highest mountains in the world, if you are lucky, Mount Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyo. 

The impressons from the trip through Tibet were strong and thrilling. It was not an easy trip, very cold and demanding days in the jeep or in the tents, but the memories and impression have for ever changed my view of the tibetan people and the country.

The tibetan people deserves all possible support in their struggle for a Free Tibet!

 

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Thakuri woman.
Humla district.
Nepal

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The beautiful Humla Valley.
Nepal

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Welcome to Tibet!

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Landscape near
 Purang

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The Saga Dawa festival.
Darchen

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Nomadwomen milking sheeps

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Sunrise over Mount Everest.
Rongbuk

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The Kumbum stupa.
Gyantse

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The Jokhang temple.
Lhasa

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Debating monks at
 Sera Monestary.
Lhasa

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The Potala Palace.
Lhasa

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The famous Tashilunpo monastery.
Shigatse

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Mount Everest from
the Rongbuk Valley

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Northface of Kailash.
Driraphuk

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Holy man at
the Saga Dawa festival.

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Kailash -
The Holy mountain

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Farmer in the Humladistrict.
Nepal 

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Smoking cannabis.
Simikot.
Nepal

Basic facts:

CHINA / TIBET (TAR)

Conventional longform:  
Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo /
Tibet Autonomic Region
Area, total: 
9 596 961 sq km / 
1 200 000 km
Coastline: 
14 500 km / 0 km  
Population:
1 313 974 000 / 2 090 000

Population / sq km:
138 / ? 
Capital / Population: 
Beijing / 11 500 000 incl. suburbs
Lhasa / 500 000

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point:
 
Turpan Pendi -154 m
Highest point: 
Mount Everest 8 850 m
Largest rivers:
 
Yangtze, Yellow River, Western River, Pearl River / 
Ganges, Indus, Sutlej, Brahamaputra
Largest lakes:
 
Yamdrok, Manosarovar

Pop. growth rate:
0.59 % / -
Birth rate / 1 000 pop.:
13 / -
Death rate / 1 000 pop.: 
7 / -
Infant mortility rate: 
23 / -
(deaths / 1 000 live births)
Life expectancy at birth:
Male / Female  
71 / 74 years / -
Ethnic groups:  
Han Chinese 91.5 %,  Zhuang, Uygur, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongol and other 8 % / Tibetans, Chinese

Religions:  
Taoism, Buddhism, Muslims 1-2 %, Christians 3-4 %. Majority of population are atheists / 
Tibetan buddhism
Languages:
Mandarin, Yue, Wu, Minbei, Minnan, Xiang, other / Tibetan 
Literacy; % of pop. over 15 years:
Male / Female: 95 / 87 / 25

Independence:  
October 1, 1949
National holiday:
October 1, National Day

GNP/capita: 3 565 USD / -
Population below poverty line: 46.2 % / - 
Currency:
Yuan (CNY) 

Mobiletelephones: 634 000 000 / -
Internetusers:
298 000 000 / -

Railways: 77 834 km / -
Mainroads:
3 583 715 km / -
 

Source: 
CIA World Factbook 2010/02,  
Free Tibet Homesite

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Map of Tibet


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The beautiful national flag of  Tibet is today forbidden by the chinese.
The white mountain in the middle is symbolizing the nation. The red stripes in the dark blue heaven are representing the original ancestors of the tibetan people, the six clans; Se, Mu, Dong, Tong, Dru och Ra. The sun with its rays shining in all directions represents the equal enjoyment of freedom, spiritual and material happiness and prosperity by all beings in the land of Tibet. The two snowlions represents the country's victorious accomplishment of a unified spiritual and secular life.


 

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This page is updated 2011-07-21
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