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In 1964, Tibet became an Autonomous Region of China. Before 1952 Tibet was ruled by the Dalai Lama, the head of the Yellow Hat sect of Lamaism. Its parliament consisted of various noble families in the region. Tibet is situated on the Qingzang (Qinghai-Tibet) Plateau. Tibet is ringed by some of the world's highest mountains and several large, rushing rivers. The mountains, including Mount Qomolangma, are impressive in height and snow cover. Tibet's dry, cold climate makes it difficult for vegetation to grow, and the air is thin.

Tibetans were nomads, or farmers raising barley, yak, and sheep. Different tribes wear dresses of distinctive style.

In the seventh century, the king of Tubo, Songsten Gampo, married Wen Cheng, a Tang princess.

Tibet has a unique culture and celebrated monasteries. Religion is an important part of Tibetan life. Lamaist's, a sect of Buddhism, believe strongly in reincarnation. Lamaism is divided into two sects, the Yellow Hats and the Red Hats. Head of the Yellow Hats, Dalai Lama, is believed to be incarnation of God Chenrezi, and when each incarnation dies, his spirit takes on the body of another Tibetan child at birth. Tibet has 50 monasteries open.

Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is called City of Sun, because of its sufficient sunshine at an altitude of 3607 meters. The Potala Palace perches on a lofty cliff. It is 13-storey-high, with 1000 rooms, 10,000 chapels and the tombs of eight Dalai Lamas. It was built by Songsten Gampo, and was the official residence of Dalai Lama. From the 18th century, the palace was used only in winter. The Jokhang Temple, the most important Buddhist temple in Tibet, is the heart of Lhasa. It includes the seated statue of the child Sakyamuni. The Tibetans believe that the statue was made by the Buddha himself. The Great Prayer Festival is held annually here. The temples are full of worshipers. The Sera Monastery was built in 1419. It is one of the four major monasteries in Tibet and contains 18 sandalwood arhats and four Heavenly Kings. The Drepung Monastery, another one of the major four monasteries, was built in 1416. It has a white conch and a gilded Buddha. Norbulingka Park, once the summer residence of Dalai Lama, is set in a 100-acre garden and has 370 rooms.

Xigaze, a city 225 km west of Lhasa, has the Tashilhunpo Monastery, a very important religious city. It was founded in 1447 and was the home of the Panchen Lama, the reincarnations of the Buddha of Eternal Light. The tenth Panchen Lama died here in 1989.

Zhangmu is a place on the Tibet side of the Nepal border. Visitors can see a pastoral area and a forest area, and live in yak-hair tents.

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Site Created September 16 1998, Updated January 20, 2013.

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