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Basic facts about Tibet
Posted: March-18-2009Adjust font size:

This year is the 50th anniversary of the Tibet's Democratic Reform. In 1959, Tibetan serfs and slaves, who accounted for more than 90 percent of the region's population, were freed after the central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by the Dalai Lama and his supporters. Here are some key facts and figures about Tibet:

The Tibet Autonomous Region, in southwest China, covers an area of 1.22 million square kilometers, or one-eighth of the total land area of China.

Tibet has various complex landforms such as high and steep mountains, deep valleys, glaciers, bare rock and the Gobi Desert. The region has an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters, earning it the nickname "the roof of the world."

Tibet had a population of 2.87 million by the end of 2008, more than 95 percent of whom are Tibetans and other ethnic minorities like Hui, Monba, Lhoba. Nearly 20 percent of the population live in towns and the rest live in agricultural and pastoral areas.

Currently, there are more than 1,700 religious venues in Tibet, with more than 46,000 resident monks and nuns.

On May 23, 1951, the "Agreement of the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet" was signed.

In an attempt to perpetuate the old social system, the upper ruling strata in Tibet publicly abandoned the agreement and staged an armed rebellion on March 10, 1959.

The Central People's Government and the Tibetan people foiled the rebellion, to safeguard the unity of the nation and the basic interests of the Tibetan people. Meanwhile, the Chinese government launched a vigorous democratic reform to overthrow the feudal serfdom system and liberate about 1 million serfs and slaves.

On March 28, 1959, the State Council announced the dismissal of the original local government of Tibet, and gave power to the Preparatory Committee for the Tibet Autonomous Region, with the 10th Panchen Lama as its acting chairman. After that, serfdom-based feudal regimes were toppled and the people's democratic rule was established.

In September 1965, the First People's Congress of Tibet convened, at which the founding of the Tibet Autonomous Region was proclaimed.

From 1959 to 2008, a total of 201.9 billion yuan (29.5 billion U.S. dollars) from the central budget went to Tibet. The local Gross Domestic Product (GDP) soared from 174 million yuan to 39.591 billion yuan during that period. The per-capital GDP grew from 142 yuan in 1959 to 13,861 yuan in 2008.

In 2007, 96.4 percent of Tibet's voting residents participated the process to elect some 34,000 deputies to the grassroots-level people's congresses. More than 94 percent of the elected deputies were Tibetans or other ethnic minorities.

In 2008, nearly all counties in Tibet became accessible with highways. About 2.1 million residents, or 73 percent of Tibet's population, now have access to electric power.

The average life expectancy in Tibet has increased from 35.5 years in 1959 to 67 years at present.

The Tibetan language is widely used in school teaching, government work and judicial proceedings, mass communication, and computer software development.

Tibet now is the first place in China to enjoy free compulsory education in both urban and rural areas. By 2008, all 73 counties in Tibet had implemented six-year compulsory education among school-age children.

Source: Xinhua News AgencyEditor: Lydia
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