“A LAKE AT THE ROOF OF THE WORLD”
Geography of Tibet
Tibet is located in the main part of Qinghai-Tibet plateau, the southwest frontier of China. Tibet borders with Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai, and Xinjiang; to the south contiguous to India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Burma, and bounded by Kashmir on the west.
Geographically, Tibet can be divided into three major parts, the east, north, and south. The eastern part is forest region, occupying approximately one-fourth of the land. Virgin forests run the entire breadth and length of this part of Tibet. The northern part is open grassland, where nomads and yak and sheep dwell here. This part occupies approximately half of Tibet. The southern and central part is an agricultural region, occupying about one-fourth of Tibet's land area with all major Tibetan cities and towns such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse ad Tsetang located in this area, it is considered the cultural center of Tibet.
The total area of the Tibet Autonomous Region is 1,200,000 square kilometers, and its population is 1,890,000.
Tibet has some of the world's tallest mountains, with several of them making the top ten list. Mount Everest, located on the border with Nepal, is, at 8,848 meters (29,029 ft), the highest mountain on earth. Several major rivers have their source in the Tibetan Plateau (mostly in present-day Qinghai Province). These include the Yangtze, Yellow River, Indus River, Mekong, Ganges, Salween and the Yarlung Tsangpo River (Brahmaputra River). The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, along the Yarlung Tsangpo River, is among the deepest and longest canyons in the world.
Tibet has been called the "Water Tower" of Asia, and China is investing heavily in water projects in Tibet.
History and People of Tibet
Tibetan history can be traced thousands of years back. However, the written history only dates back to the 7th century when Songtsan Gampo, the 33rd Tibetan king, sent his minister Sambhota to India to study Sanskrit who on his return invented the present Tibetan script based on Sanskrit.
Tibetan cultural influences extend to the neighboring states of Bhutan, Nepal, regions of India such as Sikkim, Ladakh, Lahaul, and Spiti, in addition to designated Tibetan autonomous areas in adjacent Chinese provinces.
The majority of Tibet's population out of 1,890,000 are Tibetans. Tibet is so thinly populated that it averages out 1.6 8 persons per square kilometers. About 90% of the people live on farming and husbandry. The great northern grassland which occupies a good half of Tibet is the home of nomads, yaks, and sheep. The remaining population, approximately 10%, live in towns earning their living mainly on business and handicraft, and many are factory workers and government officials.
For the majority of the Tibetans, religion seems almost everything. Many live principally for the next life, rather than for the present. They accumulate deeds of virtue and pray for the final liberation-enlightenment. Lips and hands of the elders are never at still, either busy in murmuring of the six syllable mantra (prayer) OM Ma Ni Pad Me Hum or, in rotation of their prayer wheels. Pious pilgrims from every corner of Tibet, day to day gather at Jokhang Temple and Bharkor Street offering donations and praying for heart and soul for their selves, for their friends, and for their friends' friends.
There exist a variety of Tibetan dialects and costumes depending on the origin of the regions.
The climate of Tibet
The atmosphere is severely dry nine months of the year, and it snows only once or twice in a year, owing to the perpetuity of bright sunshine. The temperature is not that cold during the daytime even in the coldest of the winter. Western passes receive small amounts of fresh snow each year but remain traversable all year round. Low temperatures are prevalent throughout these western regions, where bleak desolation is unrelieved by any vegetation bigger than a low bush, and where the wind sweeps unchecked across vast expanses of arid plain. The Indian monsoon exerts some influence on eastern Tibet. Northern Tibet is subject to high temperatures in the summer and intense cold in the winter.
The best time of year to be in Tibet is from April to the beginning of November, after which temperatures start to plummet. The central Tibet, including Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and Tsedang, generally has very mild weather from April to November, though July and August can be rainy - these two months usually see around half of Tibet's annual rainfall. October and November often bring some dazzling clear weather, and daytime temperatures can be quite comfortable at Tibet's lower altitude. The coldest months are from December to February. It is not impossible to visit Tibet in winter. The low altitude valleys of Tibet (around Lhasa, Shigatse, and Tsedang) see very little snow. Spring does not get under way until April, though March can have warm sunny days and is not necessarily a bad month to be in Tibet.