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When the word Tibet is mentioned something, most people think of cold and snow. It snows only once or twice a year. And thanks to almost perpetual sunshine, even during the coldest days of winter, it is not that cold during the daytime. Tibet is so sunny that it produces a year-round sunshine of over 3,000 hours.

Tibet’s’ old name by which is most popularly known as “land of snow, or Shangri-la”, is by no means to say that the entire land is always thickly covered in snow. It is only correct when it refers to the world’s greatest mountain ranges: the Himalayas, Nyachen Thanglha, and Gangkar Tisi. These fears ranges show their beautiful snow-covered peaks against the bluest of skies. Geographically, Tibet can be divided into three major parts, the east, north, and south. The eastern part is the Forrest region, occupying approximately one-fourth of the land. Virgin forests run the breadth and length of this part of Tibet. The northern part is grassland; nomads and yak and sheep dwell here. This part occupies approximately one-half of the land area of Tibet. The southern and central part is an agricultural region, occupying about one–fourth of Tibet’s land area.

 The total area of the Tibet Autonomous region is 1,200,000 square kilometers and its population1,900,000. The region is administratively divided into one municipality and six prefectures are Shigatse, Ngari, Lhoka(Tsedang), Chamdo, Nakchu, and Nyingtri(Kongpo). The people’s government of the Tibet Autonomous Region exercises the highest administrative authority in Tibet.  Although temperatures vary greatly (temperatures can sometimes drop 15`C in a day), the region’s climate is not as harsh as most people imagine it to be. Especially the central areas, such as Lhasa, Tsedang, Shigatse, and the major cities in Tibet have mild weather year-round. It’s not very hot in the summer, and not very cold in the winter. The monsoon starts in the summertime and reaches 12 inches of rainfall, by far the most in a year. In winter it hardly ever snows because this is the dry season. Most places in Tibet are above 3,600m. Therefore heart pounding and shortness of breath are normal responses. They are caused by a lack of oxygen. This can affect anybody, regarding their level of fitness, and has nothing to do with age for example. Rest for acclimatization is required especially for the first day in Tibet. If mountain sickness is acute, you should see a doctor. He can help with giving you fresh oxygen.  While in Tibet, you are suggested to drink at least 2 liters of water a day because. This helps against altitude sickness. Also, it is essential to bring dark sunglasses and sun lotion to prevent you from burning. Tibetan history can be traced thousands of years back.

The majority of Tibet’s population of 1,890.000 are Tibetans. Tibet is so thinly populated that it averages out 1.68 persons per square kilometer. About 90% of the people live on farming and husbandry. Farmers live in the valleys of the Tsangpo River(Brahmaputra) and its major tributaries, Kyichu and Nyangchu. These areas produce barley, wheat, peas, and rapeseed. The great northern grassland which occupies a good half of Tibet is the home of nomads, yaks, and sheep. Nomads have no fixed abodes and keep roaming along fine pastures together with all their belongings-tents and livestock. The remaining population approximately 10% live in towns, earning their living mainly on business and handicraft, and many are factory workers and government officials.The ideology of the people in this land differs greatly from any other nationality both at home in China abroad. Religion seems like almost everything. Many live for the next life, rather than for the present. That accumulate deeds of virtue and pray for the final liberation enlightenment. Lips and hands of the elders are never at still, either busied in the murmuring of the six-syllable tantric prayer “Om Ma Ne Pad ME Hum” (Hail the Jewel in the Lotus) or in rotation of hand prayer wheels, or counting of the prayer beads. Pious pilgrims from every corner of Tibet day to day gather at Jokhang temple and Bharkor street offering their donations and praying for heart and soul for their selves, for their friends, and their friends’ friends.Frequent visitors to Tibet can make out folks from different regions judging by costumes and dialects. Folks from agricultural regions dress in home-woven woolen gowns, and those from the grassland clad in sheepskin, menfolk from Chamdo wear huge tassels of black or red silk which were used in the old days for protection in a fight, while the Lhasa residents are more stylish and modern. There are several dialects in Tibet. They can mainly be categorized into four: Tsang(Shigatse and Gyangtse), Chamdo, and Amdo. Tibetan cuisine is pretty basic and mainly consists of Tsampa (Roasted Barley flour) and endless bowls of butter tea. A steamed meat dumpling is the nation’s favorite. The main items to drink are Chang, fortified barley ale, and butter tea.

Western, Chinese, and Muslim food is widely available in hotels and restaurants in the bigger cities. Especially in Lhasa, there is some fine dining to be found.

Remember that temperatures vary greatly in a single day and that in the summer period, it mostly rains in the morning and stops around noon. Dress accordingly. Always bring a raincoat with you between Mid- August to Mid-September. And last, but not least: always bring an extra coat or sweater, since temperatures differ greatly between sun and shade. The National currency is RMB, called Yuan or Kuia. The rate is approximate:

1USDollar=6 Yuan,

1 Yuan =10 Jiao,

10 Fen= 1 Jiao.

 

Credit card and travelers’ checks can be easily cashed only in Lhasa. Most currencies of developed countries can also be exchanged in Tibet. We recommended you exchange cash with the Bank of China. Color print film is generally available in most of the major cities and towns but slide film is only available in Lhasa, Outside pictures are always free of charge but be careful not to take pictures at (sensitive) military areas. Photography in temples and monasteries may be permitted for a fee, though you should ask first. Always ask first before photographing local people. This is greatly appreciated.