A plateau region north of the Himalayas, Tibet is an autonomous region of China. Metaphorically described as the “Roof of the World”, it lies at an average elevation of 4,900 meters above sea level and has a total population of 3.18 million (census Dec 2014), occupying an area of 1.25 million km², about the size of Western Europe.
The ethnic Tibetans comprise more than 90 % of the population. Geographically, Tibet shares borders with India, Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim and Myanmar in the south and west, while within China it abuts Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces to the north, east, and south.
The ecosystem of Tibet is endowed with numerous breath-taking natural landscapes and sceneries. For example, the Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon, along with the Yarlung Zangbo River, is one of the deepest and longest canyons in the world. The world’s top 10 tallest peaks are here. There are many must-see, hugely sacred sights such as the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery and Ganden Monastery. Climatically, it is severely dry nine months of the year, and low temperatures are prevalent. The environment is harsh with little vegetation, especially in northern areas.
The Tibetans have developed a distinct religion (what many describes as the Science of Mind) culture that has strongly been influenced by the local Bon religion and Buddhism. In the hearts of the Tibetan people, respect to nature is considered to be the key or the foundation of a healthy and happy life, as well as taking refuge in the “Three Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha”, appreciation and a sense of gratitude to parents and respect for teachers, doctors and the elders.
Tibet is blessed with amazingly rich arts and crafts, architecture and music, and festival traditions that are all reflective of a rich cultural heritage of local roots as well as influence from the trans-Himalayan region that every Tibetan takes a strong pride in. In many respects, Tibet is synonymous with the image of Shangri-La and exoticism of a mystical land gifted with remarkable natural landscapes, deeply devout people, and rich culture.
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