Tibet FAQ

Tibet Information
Economy of Tibet
Culture of Tibet
Government in Tibet
Climate of Tibet
People of Tibet
Festival of Tibet
Business in Tibet
Language of Tibet
Tibetan Religions
Entertainment in Tibet
The famous shops

Tibet Information

Tibet MapA brief account of Tibet, its origin, how it grew into a great military power and carved for itself a huge empire in Central Asia, then how it renounced the use of arms to practise the teachings of the Buddha and the tragic conseguences that it suffers today as a result of the brutal onslaught of the Communist Chinese forces is given in the following passages.

Five hundred years before Buddha Sakyamuni came into this world i.e., circa 1063 B.C., a semi-legendary figure known as Lord Shenrab Miwo reformed the primitive animism of the Shen race and founded the Tibetan Bon religion. According to Bonpo sources there were eighteen Shangshung Kings who ruled Tibet before King Nyatri Tsenpo. Tiwor Sergyi Jhagruchen was the first Shangshung King.

Shangshung, before its decline, was the name of an empire which comprised the whole of Tibet. The empire known as Shangshung Go-Phug-Bar-sum consisted of Kham and Amdo forming the Go or Goor, U and Tsang forming the Bar or Middle, and Guge Stod-Ngari Korsum forming the Phug or Interior.

As the Shangshung empire declined, a kingdom known as Bod, the present name of Tibet, came into existence at Yarlung and Chongyas valleys at the time of King Nyatri Tsenpo, who started the heroic age of the Chogyals (Religious Kings). Bod grew until the whole of Tibet was reunited under King Songtsen Gampo, when tha last Shangshung King, Ligmigya, was killed.

The official Tibetan Royal Year of the modern Tibetan calendar is dated from the enthronement of King Nyatri Tsenpo in 127 B.C. This lineage of Tibetan monarchy continued for well over a thousand years till King Tri Wudum Tsen, more commonly known as Lang Darma, was assassinated in 842 A.D.

Most illustrious of the above kings were Songtsen Gampo, Trisong Detsen and Ralpachen. They are called the Three Great Kings.

Economy of Tibet

Tibet is a land of scant rainfall and a short growing season, and the only extensive agricultural region is the Yarlung Zangbo valley, where barley, wheat, potatoes, millet, and turnips are grown. In this valley as well are nearly all the large cities, including Lhasa, Xigazê (Shigatse), and Gyangzê (Gyangtse). Most other areas of Tibet are suited only for grazing; yaks, which can withstand the intense cold, are the principal domestic animals, and there are also large herds of goats and sheep. Much of the population is engaged in a pastoral life, but the advances made by irrigation and the growing of forage crops is decreasing the amount of nomadism, and Chinese attempts to spur economic development have also increased the urban population. In addition to vast salt reserves, Tibet has large deposits of gold, copper, and radioactive ores.

Traditionally, goods for trade, particularly foreign trade, were carried by pack trains (yaks, mules, and horses) across the windswept plateau and over difficult mountain passes. In exchange for hides, wool, and salt there were imports of tea and silk from China and of manufactured goods from India. Motor roads now connect Lhasa with Qamdo (Chamdo) in E Tibet and with Xigazê and Gyangzê in the Yarlung Zangbo area and link Gar (Gartok) in W Tibet to the northern regions. A major highway runs from Tibet to Chengdu, in Sichuan prov., providing a link to the great Chinese cities in the east; Tibet is also connected by highway with Xinjiang and Qinghai in W China. A rail link to Qinghai prov. was opened in 2006.

Culture of Tibet

The Crisis in Tibet

Tibetans have responded with non-violent demonstrations calling for independence. From September 1987 to March 1989, protests gathered momentum and international attention until China imposed strict martial law. Although martial law was lifted in 1990, thousands of Chinese troops remain in Tibet. Political unrest continues and is spreading to Tibet's smaller towns and more remote regions. Meanwhile, China continues its widespread campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations, pervasive persecution of Tibetan Buddhism, and accelerating depletion of Tibet's timber and mineral resources.

Tibet in Exile: DalaiLama

Tibetan refugees have resettled in communities throughout India, Nepal and the rest of the world. Tibetans continue to flee persecution in Tibet in record numbers. Led by the Dalai Lama, the 1989 Nobel Peace Laureate, Tibetans struggle to retain their culture in exile. With the long-term goal of regaining Tibetan independence, the Dalai Lama has outlined a Five Point Peace Plan for Tibet which would:

  • Transform Tibet into a zone of peace;
  • Stop the mass transfer of Chinese into Tibet;
  • Respect human rights;
  • Protect Tibet's natural environment; and
  • Commence earnest negotiations with China.

The Chinese have repeatedly opposed any negotiations with the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile and the brutal oppression of Tibetans continues unabated.

Tibet's Status in the World

The United Nations, the US Congress, the European Parliament, Asia Watch and Amnesty International have all condemned China's repeated violations of human rights and international law in Tibet. In 1989, the US Congress proclaimed Tibet an "occupied country whose true representatives are the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Government in Exile." However, successive US administrations have officially considered Tibet part of China and have refused to treat the Dalai Lama as a political leader.

Givernment in Tibet

Structure of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile - Brief
Structure of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile - Long
Democratisation of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile
The Charter of the Tibetans in-Exile (draft translation)
Tibetan Parliament in Exile
Profile of Tibetan Ministers
Department Information and International Relations
Department of Home
Department of Education
Department of Health
Office of Tibet, London
Tibetan Refugee Community - Integrated Development Plan - II (1995-2000)
Gyalthon Manyul - Green Book

Climate of Tibet

The climate in highland Tibet belongs to the typical downy special climate. Climates are much different in different areas in Tibet and temperatures vary greatly within a single day. Climate in southeastern Tibet (e.g. Nyingchi) is gentle and temperate with the average temperature of eight degrees;

In western Tibet (e.g. Nakqu), the average temperature is below zero degree; While in Lhasa and the central part of Tibet, the climate is normal and nice for traveling. Visitors would not feel cold in winter nor hot in summer, especially from March to October, the best seasons for traveling. Most annual rainfall comes in the rainy season that starts from May to September, when the precipitation covers 90 percent of the whole year. Usually it rains at night in Lhasa, Shigatse and Chamdo area. The precipitations gradually decrease from 5000 millimeters in the lower part of southeast to just 50 in the north.

People of Tibet

Tibetans share their region with Menpa, Luopa, Han Chinese, Hui, Sherpa, and a few Deng people. Tibetans are the main inhabitants on the plateau. Tibetans are optimistic and happy people.

Traditionally, farmers settled in small villages with barley as their main crop. The roaming nomads earned their living by herding yaks and sheep. Most Tibetans in cities made a living as craftsmen. However, nowadays more and more people are migrating into businesses.

The Tibetan language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan phylum. People in U, Tsang, Kham, and Chamdo speak different dialects.

Unsophisticated Tibetan people in their traditional costumesMost Tibetans are devout Buddhists while a few believe in the old Bon. Islam and Catholicism also have a few followers in Lhasa and Yanjing respectively. Since China's Family Planning program is not carried out among Tibetan people, the Tibetan population keeps growing. According to the census conducted in 2000, there are 2,616,300 people in Tibet, with Tibetans totaling 2,411,100 or 92.2% of the current regional population. The census also revealed that the Tibetan's average lifespan has increased to 68 due to the improving standard of living and access to medical services. Illiteracy has decreased to 850,700.

Festival of Tibet

Tibetan New Year

The greatest festival in Tibet. In ancient times, when the peach trees were in blossom, it was considered the start of a new year. Since the systematization of the Tibetan calendar in 1027 AD, the first day of the first month became fixed as the new year. On the New Year’s day, families unite, an "auspicious dipper" is offered, and the auspicious words "tashi delek" are greeted.

Great Prayer Festival

The greatest religious festival in Tibet. Instituted by Tsongkapa in 1409, the founder of the Gelukpa Sect. Monks from the Three Great Monasteries of Tibet assemble in Jorkhang for pray to Shakyamuni’s image as if it were the living Buddha. Philosophical debates are held among candidates for the Doctorate of Metaphysics. Pilgrims come from every corner of Tibet and donations are offered to monks.

Butter Lamp Festival

The last day of the Great Prayer Festival. In order to celebrate Shakyamuni’s victory over non–Buddhist opponents, the Lord of Neu Dzong, a noted patron of Tsongkapa, illuminated numerous butter–lamps in 1409. The festival flourished since.

Gyantse Horse Race and Archery

Horse race and archery are generally popular in Tibet, and Gyantse enjoys prestige of being the earliest in history by starting in 1408. Contests in early times included horse races, archery, and shooting on galloping horse-back followed by a few days’ entertainment or picnicking. Presently, ball games, track and field events, folk songs and dances, and barter trade are additions to the above.

The World Incense Day(Saga Dawa)

Gods in heaven are believed to descend to the mortal world on this day. Incense is burnt in large scales and picnicking is done in public parks.

Six—Four Festival

Believed the day Buddha gave his first sermon. People celebrate the festival by paying visits to holy mountains.

Shoton Festival See

The Opera Festival and the greatest of festivals in Tibet. In ancient times, pious folks went into mountain hermitages to do penance. The last day, yogurt was served as meal followed by folk song and dance entertainment. Since the 7th century, opera performances were held for days in Norbulingka. Presently, opera contests and distribution of prizes are held for seven days.

Bathing Week

Believed when the sacred planet Venus appears in the sky. The water in the river becomes purest and can cure diseases. During its appearance for one week in the sky, all townspeople in Lhasa go into the river for bathing.

Death of Tsongkapa

Tsongkapa, the great reformer of Tibetan Buddhism and founder of the Gelugpa Sect, died on this day in 1419. In memory of that day, every household burns countless butter-lamps on roof–tops and chant prayers in his honor. Late in the evening Tibetan dumplings are served for supper.

Driving Off Evil Spirits

At the eve of Tibetan New Year, 29th of the twelfth month, religious dances are performed in monasteries for driving off of evil spirits of the past year. At night, in every household, traditional means of driving off evil spirits are carried out by burning bundles of straw and throwing rubbish in the crossroads. The Year–End Dumpling is served for supper

Business in Tibet

Lhasa, July 10 : From outside, the office isn't much to look at. Inside, the desk is shining, and Lin Chunfu is radiating success. Wearing shirt and necktie, well-groomed from top to toe, he looks like what he actually is - the owner of a business empire doing better for every year, with a turnover of billions of Yuan.

Ten years ago he came to Lhasa in Tibet for the first time, and immediately realised which possibilities he had to develop his business.

Lin, from the big city of Chengdu in the Sichuan province, is only one in the influx of Han Chinese entrepreneurs who have come to Tibet to make big money, and who are now making up new plans when the railway connecting Tibet with east and central China has opened.

"I have invested large sums in Tibet, but I have also made big profits. The future looks very bright," he says.

Lin Chunfu did not have to weigh pro's and con's for a long time before he decided to start his business in Tibet.

"I was one of the first big investors in Tibet. Tibet is a vast region, and has great mineral resources. Competition has been insignificant. Soon it will increase, but by then, I have already been here for nine years," he says.

He received financial aid by the authorities in order to open his business - an economical support he is still receiving, since the Communist Party in Peking wants Tibet to develop economically.

But according to critics, businessmen from the eastern parts of China are encouraged by financial support since China wants more and more Han Chinese to move into Tibet, to make it more "Chinese".

Why is it that Han Chinese, and not Tibetans, most often are doing big business in Tibet?

"That is due to tradition," replies Lin. "The Tibetans have no tradition of starting enterprises. Most of them are farmers; we Han Chinese are used to business."

He has been involved in the most diverse business lines imaginable, from restaurants, karaoke bars and preparation of wine to mining, and of course he has a finger in it when the construction boom has reached Tibet.

All these different enterprises show what is most important to succeed in business in Tibet: contacts. Which means it is not only a matter of tradition.

Chinese authorities prefer to engage Han Chinese companies when building up the infrastructure in Tibet. The Han Chinese firms first of all employ Han Chinese. The major part of the great sums annually passing from Peking to Tibet as subsidies, benefits a part of the population who has moved in to the region.

Lin's enterprise has currently 2800 employees. When the railway will be in full operation, he expects to be able to transport products in a larger scale, primarily metal and minerals, from Tibet to eastern China.

He warms to his subject - the development of Tibet, the railway, the roads, and the new houses with an altogether different standard from before.

"In the past, there were only a few TV sets, and power failures were common. Now, most families have their TV sets, and the failures occur only once or twice a month."

As for himself, he donates one million a year to road constructions, and plans to build high-schools so as to improve the quality of the education in Tibet.

He gives and takes.

Lin then elaborates on his belief that in ten years, Tibet's inhabitants can enjoy having improved their economical standard to the level where parts of eastern China are today - what appears like an utopia to an outsider.

Tibetan nomads and farmers still constitute three quarters of the population of 2.7 million inhabitants, and lead lives endlessly far away from the affluent lives led by Lin Chunfu and other successful businessmen in Lhasa.

Other Chinese settlers, such as the hotel receptionist Wang from the Henan province, have lesser aspirations, but are still seeing a future in Tibet. Wang has moved to Lhasa for the summer season to help his brother at his small hotel.

"Look at the sky and the clean air. The environment is the best thing with Lhasa, and the calm pace of life. It's more peaceful here than in eastern China."

But not all settlers in Lhasa feel comfortable. Taxi driver Li Yuhai from Shaanxi is homesick after three months. Old friends tempted him, saying that it you can make easy money in Lhasa.

But the taxi trade in Lhasa is very tough nowadays. A couple of years back, there were about two hundred taxi cabs in the town; now, 1300 cars are competing for customers. Almost all taxi drivers are settlers from outside, at the same time as the Pedi cab business is run by the Tibetans.

"Many people think that you just get here and pick the money. I regret that I came here. I have been robbed of the day's cash three times since I started. There are Tibetans who don't like us coming here. They think that Tibet is their country," says Li Yuhai.

Three quarters of the Tibetan population are nomads and farmers. But now, a steady stream of Chinese is coming to the country, attracted by the new chances of doing business.

Lin Chunfu came to Tibet ten years ago, and has built up a business empire with 2800 employees.

Language of Tibet

Tibetan is spoken in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, and in parts of northern India (including Sikkim). It is classified by linguists as a member of the Tibeto-Burman subgroup of the Sino-Tibetan languages.

Tibetan is written in a very conservative syllabary script based on the writing system of the ancient Sanskrit language of India. Used in its present form since the 9th century, it was developed as a means of translating sacred Buddhist texts that were being brought into Tibet from India. The writing system derived from the pronunciation of the language as it was in about the 7th century, and varies in many ways from colloquial Tibetan as it spoken today.

Beginning in the 8th century, Buddhist texts written in Sanskrit were carried over the Himalayas, and were carefully translated into Tibetan by meditator scholars who had studied the true meaning of the teachings with Indian masters. The flow of texts and teachings ended during the 11th century, when the Indian originals were mostly lost or destroyed in the Muslim suppression of Buddhism in India. Fortunately, by that time the transmission of Buddhist textual, artistic, meditative, and philosophical traditions into Tibet had been largely completed. Over the years Tibetan scholars added commentaries and further teachings to this body of literature.

In recent times the Chinese invasion of Tibet and their attempt to destroy the influence of the Buddhist monasteries led many very advanced meditation masters and scholars to escape to the West, bringing as many of their precious dharma texts and sacred art works as they could carry. These works are now preserved at many Tibetan Buddhist centers in various Western countries, and copies are also available for study in many major libraries. The language in which these texts are written is known as Classical Tibetan. Of the thousands of volumes of these texts, it is said that less than one percent have been translated into any Western languages.

The language as it is actually spoken today is called Colloquial Tibetan by Western scholars. There are four major dialects, and people from widely separated regions may have trouble understanding each other. The "standard" dialect is that of the region around the capital, Lhasa. Another form of the language, found in current writing, is called Modern Literary Tibetan.

This Web site offers links to resources on the Web, books, training aids and tools for translators, and software for working with Tibetan on personal computers. Also, we point out a good source of spoken colloquial Tibetan, the Tibetan language news broadcasts which are available via "Internet Radio."

These news broadcasts are also of interest to Tibetan refugees who have access to the Internet, and for them we have also included links to Indian and Nepali language broadcasts. Tape recordings of these broadcasts may be appreciated by Tibetans who don't have Internet access.

Tibetan Religions

Information about activity of the Atlanteans in Tibet and what they left for their descendants, we can find in books of Lobsang Rampa What happened to Atlantean culture in Tibet after that — this we do not know. What we do know is that Tian tribes invaded Tibet…

By the beginning of second millennium the religion of Tibetans (Bon) did not prevent them from launching predatory campaigns against their neighbors, killing one another in the struggle for power, sacrificing animals (including horses, to which they would break their legs first) to “malicious gods”

Buddhism came to Tibet from India in the VII — VIII centuries A.D. and gradually, though not without difficulties, started to prevail [67] in this region. What can be said about its Tibetan form that exists today?

On one hand, Tibetan spiritual adepts of this tradition developed very efficient systems of consciousness training that lead to the highest spiritual achievements

On the other hand — the principle of Love-compassion, which the Founder of Buddhism — Gautama Buddha — made the essence of His Teaching, was abandoned. Namely, killing of animals was permitted. Moreover, black magic was “legitimized” in the form of seeking cooperation from non-incarnate hellish beings that started to be named “wrathful deities”

A reasonable person understands that “whomever one is friends with, from them one learns”. Wise people seek the association with the Primordial Consciousness.

But foolish ones… What happens to them I described in the book [10], where I gave an example of followers of this perverted tendency in Saint Petersburg.

Those who were supposed to explain all this to the believers were Dalai Lamas. But…

Moreover, it is in Tibet where the concept originated that the Perfection can be attained not by means of cognizing the Primordial Consciousness and Mergence with It, but as a result of “momentary enlightenment”. It was believed that for the sake of attainment of this “momentary enlightenment” disciples had to be insulted, humiliated, and beaten, preferably when they do not expect it.

The following story was included in the “heroic epos” of Tibetan Buddhism. A master with his disciple who were starving finally approached a village. The master sent the disciple to ask the villagers for some food. The latter came back with the food that he had been given, hoping to also satisfy his hunger. But the master devoured all the food himself… and told the disciple to drink a stinking slush from the runoff ditch… And then beat him with his dirty shoe on his face… The disciple, as the story goes further, as a result attained a “momentary enlightenment”…

(This tendency of obtruding this kind of “enlightenment” on other people became popular among many pseudo-Buddhists with devilish souls, especially those of some extremely perverted “Buddhist schools” in China and in other countries, including Russia).

To make it easier for a not too competent reader to understand what it is all about I will clarify that the term “Enlightenment” implies transformation of the individual consciousness of an embodied man into Light, when it gets close to the state of the Creator. (remember, “God is Light…”? (1 John, 1:5)). This Light-Love then starts shining out of the body, being radiated by the consciousness that abides in it. A man acquires such a state, which we have already discussed, as a result of the refinement of consciousness and growing it in the subtlest eons. I must emphasize: this can be achieved only through the growth of consciousness as refined and tender Love-Peace, followed by Mergence of it with the Fiery Manifestation of the Creator (or “Clear Light”, in Buddhist terms). True Enlightenment can be attained only as a result of realization of the functions of the spiritual heart. And not by means of cultivating aggressive arrogance, rudeness, and ability to suppress other people with the power of devilish-quality consciousness.

But modern proponents of Tibetan Buddhism instead of development of the spiritual heart and refinement of consciousness teach their followers… to plug lower foramens of the body with corks — so that they will not fall down to hell out of them…

…Thus, in Tibet we can observe the same typical situation of gradual degradation — following the stages of development and culmination — of the great and pure Teaching, which is being displaced by human ignorance.

…And Chinese Cultural Revolution swept Tibet away.

Entertainment in Tibet

The cultural and daily life in Tibet is diverse. Besides the various festivals, there are several hundred of cultural palaces and clubs, offering entertainment and sports facilities to ordinary Tibetans as well as holy monks. A wide range of food, drinks and other kinds of entertainment are popular in most cities and towns. The most famous bars and shops are listed for your reference.

The famous bars in Lhasa

  1. Barkhor Coffee Room South of the Jokhang Temple Square, Lhasa Tel:6326982
  2. Makye Ami Restaurant No.1,East Barkhor Street,Lhasa Tel:6324455
  3. Niwei Recreation City Opposite Youth Mansion, North Linkhor Road, Lhasa Tel:6325806
  4. Yindu Recreation City Near Oil Company of TAR, Middle Beijing Road, Lhasa Tel:6812358
  5. Kelsang Metok Minzhu Recreation Center Middle Beijing Road, Lhasa Tel:6830666
  6. Salon Nightclub Near Lhasa Millitary Branch Region, Middle Beijing Road, Lhasa Tel:6821067
  7. Good Memories Coffee and Bar No.18, Norbu Lingka Road, Lhasa
  8. Musical Kitchen East Beijing Road, Lhasa Tel:6812980

The famous shops

Lhasa

  1. Barkhor Street Bazar Inside Barkhor Street, Lhasa Religious equipments, dresses, shoes, hats etc.
  2. Tibetan Medicine Monopoly of the Tibet Medicine College
    North section of the Jokhang Temple Square,Lhasa
    All kinds of Tibetan ready-made medicines.
  3. Tibet Sera Carpet Factory Sera Monastery,Sera Road,Lhasa Carpets
  4. National Trade Store To the right of the Jokhang Temple Square, Lhasa National handicrafts,dress and personal adornments etc.
  5. Saikhang Mansion At the jucture of Youth Road and Beijing Road, Lhasa Articles for daily use,family-use electric apliances etc.

Shigatse

  1. Shigatse National Travel Service Products Co. West Qingdiao Road, Shigatse 8822629
  2. Shigatse Tsejian Carpet Factory Qomolangma Road, Shigatse 8822733
  3. Shigatse Tashi Kyiltsel Gold and Silver Wares North Shanghai Road, 8821773