“Tibet” is the abbreviation of Tibet Autonomous Region, which is a provincial-level Tibetan autonomous area in China
Located in the western part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with capital of Lhasa city, Tibet is one of China’s five ethnic minority autonomous regions. It has an average elevation of more than 4,000 meters and alos being known as the “Roof of the World”.
Since the beginning of the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271-1368), the central government began to exercise jurisdiction over Tibet.
The term “Tibet” in Chinese refers to the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. It was called “Tubo” in the Tang and Song Dynasties, “Dbus-tsang” in the Yuan and Ming Dynasties; In the early Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911), it was called “U-tsang”, “U” is the Front-Tibet, and “Tsang” is the Rear-Tibet;
The term “Tibet” first appeared in the [“Qing Shilu” – meaning Factual Record Of Qing Dynasty] in the 2nd year of Kangxi Emperor (AD 1654－1722) of Qing Dynasty in AD 1663. Prior to this, the Qing successively referred to Tibet as “Tubo”, “Dbus-tsang”, “Tubod” or “Tanggute”, especially referring to the “U” and “Tsang” areas.
After that, due to the pronunciation of the word “U” of “U-tsang” in the Tibetan is similar to the word “wargi — meaninig West” in the Manchu language, and “U-tsang” is located in the west of China; Therefore, the word “U-tsang” was first translated into “Wargi Dzang” in Manchu, which means “Tsang in the west”, and in Chinese Pinying, West is “Xi”; Tsang is “Zang”, so that when to translate from Manchu into Chinese, “Tibet” is spelled as “Xi zang”. This is the beginning of Xi Zang’s (Tibet) name;
The Central Government of the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911) established the Minister of Affairs of Tibet; the local government of Tibet was established at the beginning of the Republic of China; on September 9th, 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was formally established.
The word “Tibet” in English may originate from the Turkic and Mongolian people calling the Tibetans “Tubod”, which was introduced to the West by the Arabs in the Yuan Dynasty, which is also derived from the Tibetan self-proclaimed “bod”. In terms of ethnic title, Tibet corresponds to “Tibetan”; but in the geographical appellation, Tibet sometimes corresponds to the “Tibet”, sometimes also refers to the entire Tibetan areas (the whole Tibet Plateau) that differ materially from the meaning of “Tibet”.
Tibet is very popular for its majestic, magical and magnificent natural scenery. It is a vast area, spectacular landforms and rich resources. The people on this land have created a rich and splendid Tibetan culture.
A brief history of the “TAR”
In ancient times, the ancient Tibetan clans were formed, which gradually evolved into the four major clans in Tibet plateau: Sai, Mu, Dun, and Dong. Based on this, two clans were added, “Re” and “Zhu”, commonly known as “The Six clans.”
Archaeologists excavated in Tibet and discovered various stoneware, pottery, bones, ornaments, grain seeds, and even ancient skulls from the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods.
The ancient bones excavated from the banks of the Niyang River do not have the primitive characteristics of apes and belong to modern people. The bones of the “Linzhi (Nyingchi) people” are from the Neolithic period or the age when iron and stone were used together about 4000 years ago.
By the 6th century AD, the tribes of Tibetan ancestors formed dozens of small states after thousands of years of migration, development, and division; Finally, these tribes merged into 12 small states before the Tubo kingdom was established.
At the beginning of the 7th century, the powerful Tang Dynasty was established in the Central Plains. At the same time, for the first time in history, the Tubo Dynasty, the regime that unified the tribes of the Tibet Plateau, was established.
In 641 AD, Emperor Taizong of Tang dynasty married Princess Wencheng to Tubo Tsenpo (“Emperor”) Songtsen Gampo. This marriage had intensified the economic and cultural exchanges between Tang dynasty and Tubo kingdom, and also enhanced the friendly relations between Chinese Han and Tibetan. In 710 AD, the Tang Dynasty married Princess Jincheng to Tubo Tsenpo Tride Tsuktsen.
With the two marriages between the Tubo kingdom and the Tang Dynasty, the two sides had frequent contacts. The political, economic and cultural exchanges were extensive and in-depth, non-governmental exchanges had developed in an all-round way, and the relationship between the Tibetan and the chinese Han and other ethnic groups in mainland China has reached an unprecedented degree of closeness.
The top level Tang-Tubo alliance meeting were held for eight times, and the “Monument of the Tang-Tubo Alliance” still now stands in front of the main gate of the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. In the following three to four hundred years, the Tibetans had also ties with the Northern Song dynasty, Southern Song dynasty, Xixia kingdom, Liao, and Jin regimes.
A great uprising of slaves and civilians broke out in Kham in 869 AD, which later spread to the entire territory of Tubo and led to the collapse of the Tubo Empire. In AD 877, the Tubo kingdom collapsed completely, and splitting into many small, independent states. For nearly 400 years from 877 to 1264 AD, the Tibet Plateau had not been able to establish a large unified government. Historically, this period is called “the period of separatism in Tibet.”
In 960 AD, the Song Dynasty was established. Due to distance, there was little contact with various Tibetan tribes of the U-tsang far away from the mainland. But it had relatively close ties with the Tibetan tribes of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan, which are close to Han areas.
“Gusiluo”, whom a descendant of a tribal leader of the Tubo Kingdom, established the “Gusiluo Regime” in the Huangshui River Basin centered on Ledu and Xining, Qinghai Province. This was the largest feudal regime with Tibetans as the main body at that time
In 1032 AD, Song Renzong of Song Dynasty conferred “General Ningyuan, and Training Envoy of Aizhou Regiment” upon “Gusiluo”
In 1116 AD, all the areas under the jurisdiction of”Gusiluo” were changed to counties of the Song Dynasty.
Cultivating Wilderness and Guarding the Frontier were vigorously promoted in the areas of southern part of Gansu Province, the Hexi Corridor, the eastern part of Qinghai Province, and Kham by by Song government. And on this basis, a military system similar to the Song Dynasty was established among Tibetans to jointly defend against Xixia kingdom’s invasion. At the same time, the “tea-horse trading market” was also being carried out in special markets in today’s Ya’an of Sichuan province, Linxia of Gansu province and some areas in Shaanxi province.
It started the regular fixed trade between horses in Tibetan areas and tea in Han areas for hundreds of years following, and also gradually formed “The Ancient Tea Horse Trading Route”.
In 1271, the Mongolian Great Khan-Kublai named the country as Yuan. U-tsang, Do Kham and Do me became part of the unified multi-ethnic Great Yuan Empire, and Tibet has since been officially Under the direct jurisdiction of the Chinese central government.
After the Yuan Dynasty unified China, according to the actual situation in Tibetan areas, a series of far-reaching administrative measures were adopted, including: For the first time, the establishment of the General Institution of the Central Institution (renamed “The Executive Yuan” in AD 1288), to be in charge of national Buddhist affairs and military and political affairs in Tibet and other places. The Executive Yuan’s envoys (in-charge officials) were generally held concurrently by the prime minister, and deputy envoys were held by monks recommended by the master of emperor.
It was responsible for checking households in Tibet, setting up post stations, collecting taxes, stationing troops, appointing officials, and enacting the law and calendar of the Yuan Dynasty in Tibet.
Appointing Tibetan high ranking monks and local people to serve as officials from central to local at all level. The establishment of administrative agencies in U-tsang, Do Kham and other places, as well as the appointment and dismissal, promotion, rewards and punishments of officials were all under the orders of the central government.
Divide the administrative regions of Tibet. The central government of the Yuan Dynasty set up three independent “High Pacification Commissioner’s Office” in Tibetan areas, all of which were directly under the management of the “The Executive Yuan”. As far as the present-day Tibet Autonomous Region is concerned, today’s Lhasa, Shannan, Shigatse (Xigaze), Ali and other places are under the jurisdiction of the “Dbus-Gtsang High Pacification Commissioner’s Office”; The area of Qamdo and the eastern part of Nagqu City are under the jurisdiction of “Do Kham High Pacification Commissioner’s Office”
The Yuan Dynasty checked household registration in U-tsang and other places, collected taxes, established post stations, stationed troops, and guarded the frontiers. In Sasgya (now Sakya, Tibet), “Dbus-Gtsang High Pacification Commissioner’s Office” set up 13 Wanhu officies and several Qianhu offices, and collecting taxes.
Among all those, the division of administrative regions in the Yuan Dynasty became the basis for the evolution of Tibet’s administrative divisions.
In 1368 AD, the Ming Dynasty replaced the Yuan Dynasty and adopted a peaceful transition in the form of confiscating the old imperial seals of the Yuan Dynasty and replacing those with the new imperial seals, inheriting national sovereignty over Tibet from Yuan Dynasty.
The Ming Dynasty did not follow the official system of the Yuan Dynasty, but established a unique system of granting monk officials; During Ming Dynasty, representative political and religious leaders from various places were conferred different titles and seals, and they were ordered to manage their respective places. However, the inheritance of their positions must be approved by the emperor.
In terms of administrative divisions and the establishment of military and political institutions, the Ming Dynasty basically inherited the Yuan Dynasty’s delineation method in Tibet. In the former place of Dbus-Gtsang (U-Tsang) & Mdo-khams (Do kham) Pacification Commissioner’s Offices in the Yuan Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty established “Dbus-Gtsang Itinerant High Commandery” & “E-Li-Si Army-Civilian Marshal Office”.
Later, upgrading this two local goverments to “Dbus-Gtsang Itinerant High Commandery” and “Mdo-khams Itinerant High Commandery”, Under it, there are different level of institutions being set up, including: Regional Military Commission; Pacification Commissioner’s Office; Expedition Commissioner’s Office; Wanhu offices, Qianhu offices. Local high ranking monks or tribe leaders were to appointed and to serve as officials of military and political institutions at all levels. The appointment, dismissal, and promotion of officials at all levels were directly decided by the Ming Dynasty Central Committee
In the early Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911), Tibet was called “U-tsang”, “U” means center in Tibetan language, it is the collective name for the surrounding area of Lhasa, which is the so-called “Front-Tibet”; “Tsang” is the collective name for the Shigatse region, which is the “Rear-Tibet”
In 1644 AD, the Qing Dynasty made Beijing as its capital and unified China. The Qing Dynasty exercised sovereignty in Tibet in accordance with the regulations of the previous dynasties, which as long as the officials sealed by the previous dynasty returned the old dynasty’s seal, then the new dynasty’s seal would be reissued, and its original status shall remain unchanged
In AD 1652, the 5th Dalai Lama of the Gelug pa of Tibetan Buddhism was summoned to Beijing to meet Emperor Shunzhi of Qing Dynasty. In the following year, he was officially canonized by the Qing Dynasty, and then the 5th Panchen Lama was canonized by Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty. Henceforth, the titles of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Erdeni and their political and religious status in Tibet were formally established.
And since then, the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama had to be canonized by the central government and then became regulation
In AD 1727, Emperor Yongzheng ordered to establish the Minister of Affairs of Tibet to handle all Tibet affairs.
The Qing Dynasty’s administration of Tibet was based on summing up the experiences of the Yuan and Ming dynasties in governing Tibet, and made major and comprehensive adjustments in accordance with actual conditions and changes in the situation.
Setting up the minister in Tibet to oversee all Tibet;
Adjusting the political and religious management system in Tibet;
Canonizing the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni the titles,
Establishing the “Golden Urn” system;
Confirming the principle that the decision on foreign affairs and border defense in Tibet belong to the central government;
Delineated the boundary between present-day Tibet and Qinghai province, Sichuan province, and Yunnan province;
Stipulated the jurisdiction and authority of the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Erdeni,
Divided the jurisdiction of the Minister of Affairs of Tibet.
Republic of China
In 1911 AD, the 1911 Revolution overthrew the feudal monarchy and established the Republic of China in the following year. The “Interim Constitution of the Republic of China” expressly stipulates that Tibet is one of the 22 provinces of the Republic of China. The “Constitution” and other laws and regulations officially promulgated since then also clearly stipulate that Tibet is part of the Republic of China.
In July 1912, the government of the Republic of China established a central agency to manage Mongolian and Tibetan affairs — “Bureau of Mongolia-Tibet Affairs”; And appointing the chief of the Central Government Office in Tibet, whom directly under the Premier of State, and performed the duties of the Minister of Affairs of Tibet of Qing Dynasty
In 1929, the “Bureau of Mongolia-Tibet Affairs” was reorganized as the “Committee of Mongolia-Tibet Affairs”. In April 1940, the “Committee of Mongolia-Tibet Affairs” established an office in Lhasa as the central government’s dispatched agency in Tibet. The 14th Dalai Lama’s identification was confirmed via “Golden Urn” system, and also his enthronement (sit-in) was approved by the National Government of the Republic of China.
However, the local government of Tibe — the Kashag Regime did not obey the orders of the Republic of China. Tibet and Xikang province(Kham in the west of the Jinsha River) were in fact highly autonomous and there was direct and independent contacts with countries such as Nepal and the United Kingdom.
People’s Republic of China
In October 1950, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army entered Tibet and eliminated the main force of the Tibetan army at the Battle of Chamdo.
On May 23rd, 1951, the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China and the Tibetan Government signed the “Agreement between the Central People’s Government and the Tibetan Local Government on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet” (commonly known as the “17-Article Agreement”), which marked the peaceful liberation of Tibet.
On April 22th, 1956, the Tibet Autonomous Region Preparatory Committee held an inaugural meeting in Lhasa and announcing its official establishment. The Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso served as the chairman, and the Panchen Erdeni Chokyi Gyatsen served as the first deputy chairman. Ngapoi·Ngawang Jigme serves as the secretary-general.
On March 28th, 1959, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China announced the dissolution of the former Tibetan local government, and the Tibet Autonomous Region Preparatory Committee exercised the powers of the Tibetan local government.
On September 1st, 1965, the Tibet Autonomous Region was formally established.
Administrative divisions of Tibet
Tibet Autonomous Region currently governs 6 prefecture-level cities, 1 region, 8 municipal districts and 66 counties.
Geography and climate
Tibet Autonomous Region is the main part of the Tibet Plateau, covering an area of 1.2284 million square kilometers, accounting for about 1/8 of the total land area of China. Among the provinces and regions in China, it has the second largest area, second only to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Tibet Autonomous Region is adjacent to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province to the north; Yunnan Province and Sichuan Province are bordered to the east and southeast; The south and west of Tibet are adjacent to the countries of Myanmar, India, Bhutan, Nepal and the Kashmir region from east to west.
The average altitude of Tibet is above 4000 meters above sea level. About two hundred million years ago, this place was once a vast ocean. It rose sharply during the ancient Himalayas orogeny over 20 million years ago, formed today’s plateau landform.
The general terrain of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau slopes from northwest to southeast. The terrain is complex and diverse, and the sceneries are numerous. There are high and steep mountains, deep gullies, glaciers, and Gobi.
It is divided into cold zone, temperate zone, Subtropical zone, tropical zone, a wide variety of exotic flowers and plants and rare wild animals, as well as the vertical distribution of natural wonders such as “Four seasons in one trip; A different climate a few miles away.” The landform can be roughly divided into the Himalayas, the valleys of southern Tibet, the plateau of northern Tibet and the alpine valleys of eastern Tibet.
The Himalayas, located in southern Tibet, consist of several mountain ranges that extend roughly from west to east with an average elevation of about 6000 meters. Among them, Mount Everest, located on the border between China and Nepal in Tingri County, has an elevation of 8844.43 meters and it is the highest peak in the world. The climate and landforms on the north and south sides are quite different.
The valleys of southern Tibet is between the Kailash Mountains and the Himalayas, where the Yarlung Tsanpo River and its tributaries flow through. There are many river valley flatlands and lake basin valleys of different size. The soil is fertile that making this areas the main agricultural area of Tibet.
The Northern Tibet is located between Kunlun Mountains, Tanggula Mountains, Kailash Mountains, and Nyainqentanglha Mountains, accounting for about 2/3 of the area of the autonomous region. It consists of a series of round and gentle hills with many basins in between. It is the main pastoral area in Tibet.
The alpine valleys of eastern Tibet is the well-known Hengduan Mountain Range which roughly located to the east of Nagqu county. It is a series of high mountains and deep valleys that gradually turn from west-east to north-south which hold the three rivers of Nu River, Lancang(Mekong) River and Jinsha River.
The white snow on the top of the mountain, the dense forest on the mountainside and the evergreen countryside at the foot of the mountain constitute a magnificent landscape of three parallel rivers in the canyon area.
The Tibet Plateau is vast and rich in energy sources, among which solar energy, hydropower, and geothermal are the most important. Tibet’s solar energy is the most abundant area in China. Lhasa is known as the “Sunshine City” because it has more than 3000 hours of sunshine per year.
The climate of Tibet is unique and complex due to the influence of topography, landform and atmospheric circulation. The climate is generally cold and dry in the northwest and warm and humid in the southeast. Therefore, the climate types from southeast to northwest are: tropical, subtropical, plateau temperate, plateau sub-frigid zone, and plateau frigid zone.
In the alpine and gorge areas of southeastern Tibet and the southern slope of the Himalayas, the temperature gradually decreases due to the repeated rise of terrain, and the climate changes vertically from tropical or subtropical climate to temperate, cold temperate and frigid climate.
Under the alternate control of the west wind in winter and the southwest monsoon in summer, the difference between the dry and rainy seasons in Tibet is very obvious. Generally, the dry season is from October to April of the following year.
The rainy season is from May to September, and rainfall generally accounts for about 90% of the annual precipitation. Precipitation is also severely uneven in various places. The annual precipitation has gradually decreased from 5000 mm in the southeast lowlands to 50 mm in the northwest.
The climate of southern Tibet and northern Tibet is very different. Affected by the warm and humid air currents in the Indian Ocean, the valleys of southern Tibet are mild and rainy, with an average annual temperature of 8°C, the lowest monthly average temperature of -16°C, and the highest monthly average temperature above 16°C.
The northern Tibet Plateau has a typical continental climate. The annual average temperature is below 0°C, and the freezing period lasts for half a year. The highest July does not exceed 10°C. June to August are warmer, with rainy nights in the rainy season and strong winds in winter and spring.
Tibet is the region with the most lakes in China, with a total lake area of about 23,800 square kilometers, accounting for about 30% of the total lake area in China. More than 1,500 lakes of different sizes are scattered among the mountains and plains. Among them are Namtso lake, Selintso lake and Zharinamtso lake are with area of more than 1,000 square kilometers, and 47 lakes are with area of more than 100 square kilometers.
There are many types of lakes in Tibet, including almost all the characteristics of lakes in China. There are few freshwater lakes but most salt lakes. There are about 251 salt lakes of various types initially identified, with a total area of about 8000 square kilometers. There are many fertile pastures around the salt lakes. A variety of precious wild animals often haunt in groups.
Population and ethnic groups
Tibet Autonomous Region is the most concentrated area of Tibetan residents in China, accounting for 45% of the country’s Tibetan population. In addition, there are 41 ethnic groups including Han, Hui, Luoba, Naxi, Bai, Uygur, Mongolian, Buyi and Nu people
According to the 6th national census of the Tibet Autonomous Region in 2010, the permanent population of Tibet is 3,002,166. Among the permanent residents of the district, the Tibetan population accounts for 90.48%, and the Han population accounts for 8.17%, the other 40 ethnic minority population accounts for 1.35%,
The average life expectancy of the Tibetan population has increased from 35.5 years to 67 years now.
The religions in Tibet are mainly composed of Bon buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and folk religions. In addition, there are Islam and Catholicism.
There are more than 1,700 Tibetan Buddhist temples in the Tibet Autonomous Region, with approximately 46,000 resident monks and nuns; Aapproximately 88 Bon religion temples, more than 3,000 monks, 93 renpoches and more than 130,000 religious people, 4 mosques and with more than 3,000 Islamic congregations. 1 Catholic church with more than 700 church members.
From the perspective of geographical distribution that those have different social influences in different regions of Tibet, and the existence of folk religions is even ignored by many people. From the perspective of religious taxonomy, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon religion, Islam and Catholicism belong to theological religions, while folk religions is lack systematic theories and have no special venues, and religious professional group. The Islamic and Catholic followers in Tibet are relatively small, and their influence is limited to some areas. Surrounded by multiple theological religions, folk religions still have a certain influence among Tibetan people, especially in remote areas.
Tibet is located on the Tibetan Plateau known as the “Roof of the World”. It is rich in tourism resources and unique natural and cultural landscapes. Of the 14 mountain peaks above 8,000 meters in the world, 5 are in Tibet, including the world’s highest peak Mount Everest
Prompt before departure
Everyone will experience feeling-altitude of varying degrees when entering the zone over 3000 meters above sea level. The general symptoms are headache, chest tightness, fatigue, and mild fever. It is necessary for you to take a good rest, and drink winter as much as possible to assist you acclimatizing
Recommended travel days
Usually 2-3 days is enough if only visit in the urban area of Lhasa. A duration of travel days of 5-7 days for going to Lhasa and surrounding areas, such as Namtso lake, Shannan and other places. However, a travel time of 10-15 days is recommended if you want to go to further destinations, such as Nyingchi, Shigatse,or Mt Everest or Mt Kilash
Best travel time
The best time to travel in Tibet is summer from June to August; followed by spring and autumn.
From June to August, summer is the season with the most tourists in Tibet. At this time, the scenery is the best, the oxygen content is sufficient, and the climate is pleasant. In July and August, the rainy season will come in Tibetan areas.
In the time from September to November, it is no rain and the temperature is suitable. It is a good season to travel through Ali,and other regions of Tibet;
From mid-to-late October, the weather gets colder, so to wear a thick coat and sweater is needed to keep you warm when travel on to Tibet plateau
In the winter from December to the February of the following year, due to heavy snow, Ali, Namtso, Medog and other places are not suitable for tourism. At this time, there are few tourists entering Tibet and the tour price is the lowest in the year. The temperature in Tibet is low in the morning and evening in winter, However, from the perspective of viewing the scenery, the mountains and rivers in Tibet are also the most spectacular in winter, with the highest visibility, and it is possible for you to see the uncommon scenery.
From March to May is the season for peach and azaleas blossom in southeastern Tibet. Nyingchi is a highlight of travel. At this time, there were not many people who came to Tibet to travel. The budget of the tour was moderate, and the entrance tickets for popular attractions were not tight. However, Tibet is windy in spring and the climate is cold and dry, so it is also necessary to pay attention to cold and warm when visiting Tibet.
View destinations, attractions and tours in Tibet
Pre-made Packaged tours and hikes in Tibet
Cities, counties, towns and villages in Tibet
Monasteries, mountains, holy lakes in Tibet