Tibet
China Tibet, also known as TAR, is a democratic region in China that is very
poor, and is mainly inhabited by Buddhists. Throughout its long history, Tibet
at times has governed itself as an independent state and at other times has had
various levels of association with China. Whatever China \'s involvement in

Tibetan affairs, Tibet\'s internal government was for centuries a theocracy,
under the leadership of Buddhist lamas, or monks. In 1959 the Dalai Lama fled to

India during a Tibetan revolt against Chinese control in the region. China then
took complete control of Tibet, installing a sympathetic Tibetan ruler and, in

1965, replacing with a Communist administration (Encarta 1). The TAR covers an
area of about 472,000 square miles. It is bounded on the north by Xinjiang Uygur

Autonomous Region and Qinghai Province; on the east by Sichuan and Yunnan
provinces; on the south by Myanmar (formally known as Burma), India, Bhutan, and

Nepal; and on the west by India. Lhasa is the region\'s capital and largest city
(Schaller 72). With an average elevation of more than 12,000 feet, Tibet is the
highest region on earth, and for this reason, it is sometimes called the Roof of
the World. Most of the people in Tibet live at elevations ranging from 3,900
feet to 16,700 feet. Tibet is also one of the world\'s most isolated regions,
surrounded by the Himalayas on the south, the Karakorum Range on the west, and
the Kunlun Mountains on the north (Encarta 1). The southern part of Tibet is
situated entirely within the Himalayas, and many of the world\'s highest summits
are located in the Himalayan chain, which extends along Tibet\'s southern
frontier. Among the peaks are Mount Everest(29,028 feet), the world\'s largest
mountain; Namcha Barwa(25,445 feet); and Gurla Mandhata(25,354 feet). The Kailas

Range, a chain of the Himalayas, lies parallel to and north of the main chain
and has peaks of up to 22,000 feet. Between the Kailas Range and the main chain
is a river valley that extends about 600 miles. The Brahmaputra River (known in

Tibet as the Yarlung Zangbo) flows from west to east through most of this valley
(Encarta 1). The mountains in Tibet form Asia\'s principal watershed, or dividing
line, between westward-flowing and eastward-flowing streams, and Tibet is the
source of the continent\'s major rivers. The Brahmaputra is Tibet\'s most
important river. The Indus, Ganges, and Sutlej rivers have their headwaters in
western Tibet. Many of Tibet\'s rivers have potential for hydroelectric
development (Encarta 1). Vegetation on the Tibetan Plateau is extremely sparse,
consisting mainly of grasses and shrubs. Scattered wooded areas occur in extreme
west and east. Most vegetation, however, is concentrated in Brahmaputra, Indus,
and Sutlej river valleys. These areas support most species of trees, including
conifers, oaks, cypresses, poplars, and maples. Apple, peach, pear, and apricot
trees are cultivated in the valleys (Encarta 1). Tibet is home to a variety of
wildlife. Musk deer, wild sheep, wild goats, wild donkeys, yaks, and Tibetan
antelope are common in mountainous areas. Other large mammals include leopards,
tigers, bears, wolves, foxes, and monkeys. Bird life includes geese, gulls,
teal, and other species of waterfowl, and also pheasants and sand grouse
(Encarta 1). Tibet has a dry, cold climate with an average annual temperature of

34 degrees Fahrenheit. It is very bitter in Tibet in the winter (Harrer 39).

Temperatures in the mountains and plateaus are especially cold, and strong winds
are common year round. The river valleys experience a more moderate climate.

Lhasa and central Tibet have an average temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit in

December and an average of 60 degrees Fahrenheit in June. The daily temperature
range is great. On a typical summer day, the temperature can rise from 37
degrees Fahrenheit before sunrise to 81 degrees Fahrenheit before midday. In
general, temperatures in Tibet frequently drop suddenly after sunset. The
average annual precipitation is 15 inches (Encarta 2). The Tibet pamphlet states
that Tibet is rich in mineral resources, although few have been exploited due to
inaccessibility, a lack of industrial capacity, and Buddhist admonitions against
disturbing the earth for fear of harming living creatures. Gold is found in many
areas, and significant deposits of iron ore, coal, salt, and borax are also
present. Other known resources include oil shale, manganese, lead, zinc, quartz,
and graphite (14). Since 1959 the Chinese government has capitalized on some of

Tibet\'s resources by mining chromite, tinkalite, and boromagnesite; constructing
hydroelectric and geothermal plants; and logging timber. In eastern Tibet,
serious environmental concerns have been raised over the extent of pollution and
deforestation resulting from these projects