Nation profile


General information
3,180,000 inhabitants in the Tibet Autonomous Region (2014 official estimate). Considering the whole Greater Tibet, and depending on which borders are considered, some 8 to 10.5 million inhabitants
1,228,400 km² the Tibet Autonomous Region, 2.250.000 km² the Greater Tibet
People's Government, controlled by the Communist Party of China, and the Tibetan Government in exile, based in Dharamsala
Major cities
Lhasa (capital), Shigatse, Kangding and Jyekundo
State administration
People's Republic of China
Territorial languages
Official languages
Chinese and Tibetan (only in the Tibet Autonomous Region)
Major religion


Tibet is one of the world's stateless nations with a larger territory —some 2 million square kilometres, to the north and east of the Himalayas—, which under full control of the the People's Republic of China . About half of that territory is included in the boundaries of the so-called Tibet Autonomous Region, which on paper has its own institutions of self-government, but in practice is left with a very limited margin of autonomy, with no political pluralism and significant subordination to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party. The other half of Greater Tibet is divided into several prefectures and counties that are part of four non-autonomous Chinese provinces.


Tibet has had its own rulers since at least the 6th century AD, when the Iarlung dynasty ruled in the country. During the 8th century Buddhism was brought to Tibet. It has since remained the majority religion of the Tibetan people. During the 16th century, the Dalai Lama imposed itself as the highest religious and civilian ruler.

With the collapse of the Qing Dynasty of China in 1912, Tibet achieved a very broad margin of self-government. The academic debate has not been closed on whether, since that moment, Tibet was a de facto independent state or it was rather a territory with a very wide margin of internal autonomy within China. In any case, in 1950, the Chinese Communists invaded Tibet, annexed it and put an and to its self-government system and and to the Tibetan institutions.

Since then, several revolts and protests have taken place against the Chinese authorities. The 2008 protests and a continued wave of self-immolations from 2009 onwards are two examples of the most recent ones.

The government in exile

In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet and settled, along with thousands of fellow exiled Tibetans, in Dharamsala, northern India. The Dalai Lama established there the Tibetan government in exile, or Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), which has an executive and a legislative branch. As a result of several democratic reforms, since 2011 the CTA's most senior post is no longer the Dalai Lama, but the president or Sikyong, which is elected by suffrage among the Tibetan community in exile.

According to its official political stance, the CTA seeks to obtain a very broad self-government for Tibet within a democratic China. It is based on the so-called "middle way" as envisaged by the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who advocates full internal autonomy for Tibet and the reunification of the entire Tibetan land.


Since the 1950 Chinese occupation, the influx of ethnic Han Chinese migrants to Tibet has been increasing. This has contributed to the minoritization of the Tibetan people in some regions. The current population share as regards national identity remains a matter of dispute. 2010 Chinese census sources point out that, in the Tibet Autonomous Region, Tibetans make up 90% of the population. The Tibetan government in exile argues the share is lower, especially in the capital city Lhasa, where Tibetans could already be a minority. The Tibetan exiled authorities also recall that this situation has contributed to worsen the place of Tibetan, given the fact that the Han Chinese hardly ever learn the language, which helps to strengthen the role of Mandarin Chinese.