Tibet is an ancient civilization with its own rich cultural and religious
Tibet, one of the world's most extra-ordinary destinations where indeed adventure lurks around every corner. Its name the "Roof of the world" is not a mere statement. The valley bottoms of Tibet are higher than the highest mountains elsewhere. Lying at the centre of Asia, Tibet has an area of over 2.5 million square kilometers at an average altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level. This vast arid plateau contains the earth's highest mountains and greatest river valleys makes up the physical homeland of 6 million Tibetans.
Tibet is an ancient civilisation with its own rich cultural and religious past. Tibet and China have a long history and for short periods of time over the last 2000 years Tibet has come under the rule of China. At other times both states were ruled by the Mongol empire. In 1949 China claimed Tibet as part of the 'motherland' despite distinct differences in culture, language, identity, government, and legal status. Unfortunately the occupation of Tibet represents brutal repression, colonial occupation, and military domination.
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. Tibetans use the term Tibet to mean the three provinces described above, i.e., the area traditionally known as Tibet before the 1949-50 invasion.
Despite over 40 years of Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Tibetan people refuse to be conquered and subjugated by China. The present Chinese policy, a combination of demographic and economic manipulation, and discrimination, aims to suppress the Tibetan issue by changing the very character and the identity of Tibet and its people. Today Tibetans are outnumbered by Han Chinese population in their own homeland.
Should I go?
There are two main reasons why you should consider visiting Tibet:
Firstly, if you wish to understand more about Tibet, there is no substitute for visiting it, traveling its roads, talking to its people. Tibet is a real country, a real place. Quite simply, going there is the way to start finding out about Tibet.
The Dalai Lama, asked what people could do to help his cause, said:
"Go to Tibet and see many places - as much as you can; then tell the world."
Secondly, the more people from the free world visit Tibet, the more difficult it is for China to persecute the Tibetan people. Without tourism, Tibet would effectively be hidden from the free world, allowing China to implement its repressive policies in secret. Please visit http://www.atc.org.au/ for more information on the Chinese Occupation of Tibet.