Tibet

Situated in the south-western part of China, the Autonomous Region of Tibet is one of the largest provinces in China covering over 460,000 square miles, however due to the harsh climatic conditions it is also the least populated province of the PRC. Tibet has a dramatic and colourful history, it used to be an Empire and a place where Buddhism flourished and became a state religion spreading towards Central Asia. Later the country went through wars and several dynasties of rulers. After the Chinese Civil War Tibet became part of the People’s Republic of China, however still today, there are disputes about the status of the region.

Although Tibet’s economy relies on agriculture, its tourism industry has picked up in the recent years. Tibet has gained worldwide recognition as a top tourist destination due to its unique natural beauty. Tibet is located on the Quinghai-Tibet plateau northeast of the Himalaya mountain range and is the highest region on the planet with an average elevation of 16,000 ft above sea level. The terrain in Tibet varies from mountains, glaciers and alpine valleys to tundra and steppeland. It is also home to Mount Everest (29,029 ft) and some of the greatest rivers in Asia such as Yangtze, the Yellow Ricer, Mekong and Ganges all of which originate from this mountainous region.

Along with the breathtaking – yet severe - beauty of the mountains, visitors tend to be blown away by the unique cultural and architectural heritage of Tibet. Being the cradle of Buddhism, Tibet boasts a multitude of temples, monasteries and palaces.

A good place to start exploring this mysterious region is in its capital – Lhasa. Located at a relatively low altitude for the region – 12,140 ft (3700 m), Lhasa means “The Land of Gods”. It is a city with a history of over 13 centuries and is famous for its Buddhist temples.

The highlights of Lhasa include Potala Palace – built in 1645 by the fifth Dalai Lama as a palace to host the Tibetan Government. It contains more than 1000 rooms and occupies the area of 13 hectares; its walls are around 10 ft (3 m) thick. This impressive palace is the most recognizable landmark of Lhasa. Today, it attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists from over the world. The complex has a Red and a White Palace. The Red Palace is the higher one and comprises several chapels and temples where Buddhism is studied and practiced.

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