Saturday, 16 May 2009

Sheperd on the high Plateaux of Tibet

Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north of the Himalayas, and the home to the indigenous Tibetan people and some other ethnic groups. With an average elevation of 4,900 metres (16,000 ft), it is the highest region on Earth and has in recent decades increasingly been referred to as the "Roof of the World".

In the history of Tibet, it has been an independent country, divided into different countries, and a part of China each for a certain amount of time. Tibet was first unified under King Songtsän Gampo in the seventh century. A government nominally headed by the Dalai Lamas, a line of spiritual leaders, ruled a large portion of the Tibetan region at various times from the 1640s until 1950s. During most of this period, the Tibetan administration was subordinate to the Chinese empire of the Qing Dynasty. The 13th Dalai Lama proclaimed Tibet independent in 1913, but this declaration was not accepted by China. Furthermore, Tibet was not recognized by any country as a de jure independent nation. As a measure of the power that regents must have wielded, it is important to note that only three of the fourteen Dalai Lamas have actually ruled Tibet; regents ruled during 77 percent of the period from 1751 until 1960.The Communist Party of China gained control of central and western Tibet (Tibet area controlled by the Dalai Lama) after a decisive military victory at Chamdo in 1950. The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959.

Today, Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in reality and claimed by the Republic of China (ROC) in its constitution while a small part, according to the PRC and the ROC, is controlled by India. Both sides of Chinese government regard Tibet as part of China.Currently, Beijing and the Government of Tibet in Exile disagree over when Tibet became a part of China, and whether the incorporation into China of Tibet is legitimate according to international law[5] (see Tibetan sovereignty debate). Since what constitutes Tibet is a matter of much debate (see map, right) neither its size nor population are simple matters of fact, due to various entities claiming differing parts of the area as a Tibetan region.

The Tibetan Plateau , also known as the Qinghai-Tibetan (Qingzang) Plateau is a vast, elevated plateau in Central Asia covering most of the Tibet Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province in China and Ladakh in Kashmir, India. It occupies an area of around 1,000 by 2,500 kilometers, and has an average elevation of over 4,500 meters. Sometimes called "the roof of the world," it is the highest and biggest plateau, with an area of 2.5 million square kilometers (about four times the size of Texas or France).

The Tibetan Plateau is surrounded by towering mountain ranges. It is bordered to the northwest by the Kunlun Range which separates it from the Tarim Basin, and to the northeast by the Qilian Range which separates the plateau from the Hexi Corridor and Gobi Desert. Near the south the plateau is transected by the Yarlung Tsangpo River valley which flows along the base of the Himalayas, and by the vast Indo-Gangetic Plain. To the east and southeast the plateau gives way to the forested gorge and ridge geography of the mountainous headwaters of the Salween, Mekong, and Yangtze rivers in western Sichuan and southwest Qinghai. In the west it is embraced by the curve of the rugged Karakoram range of northern Kashmir.
It has been empirically shown to be the most remote place on Earth.

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