Tibet at a Glance

Tibet lies at the centre of Asia, with an area of 2.5 million square kilometers. The earth’s highest mountains, a vast arid plateau and great river valleys make up the physical homeland of 6 million Tibetans. It has an average altitude of 13,000 feet above sea level.

Tibet is comprised of the three provinces of Amdo (now split by China into the provinces of Qinghai, Gansu & Sichuan), Kham (largely incorporated into the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan and Qinghai), and U-Tsang (which, together with western Kham, is today referred to by China as the Tibet Autonomous Region).

The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) comprises less than half of historic Tibet and was created by China in 1965 for administrative reasons. It is important to note that when Chinese officials and publications use the term “Tibet” they mean only the TAR.

Land Size: 2.5 million square kilometres, which includes U-Tsang, Kham and Amdo provinces consisting of U-Tsang and a small portion of Kham, consists of 1.2 million square kilometres. The bulk of Tibet lies outside the TAR.

Capital: Lhasa

Population: 6 million Tibetans and an estimated 7.5 million Chinese, most of whom are in Kham and Amdo.

Language: Tibetan (of the Tibeto-Burmese language family). The official language is Chinese.

Staple Food: Tsampa (roasted barley flour)

National Drink: Salted butter tea

Typical Animals: Wild yak, Bharal (blue) sheep, Musk deer, Tibetan antelope, Tibetan gazelle, Kyang (wild ass), Pica, Panda

Typical Birds: Black necked crane, Lammergeier, Great crested grebe, Bar-headed goose, Ruddy shel duck, Ibis-bill

Average Altitude: 4,000 metres or 13,000 feet above sea level.

Highest Mountain: Chomo Langma (Mt. Everest) 29,028 ft.

Average Rainfall: Varies widely. In the west it is 1 mm in Jan. to 25 mm in July. In the east, it is 25-50 in Jan. and 800 in July

Average Temperature: July – 14.5 degrees celcius (58 F) January – minus 16.5 degrees celcius (24 F)

Mineral Deposits: Borax, uranium, iron, chromite, gold

Economy: Tibetans: predominantly in agriculture and animal husbandry. Chinese: predominantly in government, commerce and the service sector.

Provinces: U-Tsang (Central Tibet), Amdo (N.E. Tibet), Kham (S.E. Tibet)

Bordering Countries: India, Nepal, Bhutan, Burma, China

National Flag: Snow lions with red and blue rays. Outlawed in Tibet

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