Since the Chinese annexation of Tibet in 1949, as many as 1.2 million Tibetans have been killed through executions, torture and starvation while more than 6,000 of Tibet's temples and monasteries have been defaced or destroyed. When tensions peaked and violence broke out in 1959, the Dalai Lama, spiritual and temporal leader of Tibet, was left with little choice but to flee his homeland along with 80,000 Tibetan refugees. The following year, as more Tibetan refugees arrived, the Indian government allowed political asylum in Dharamsala for the Dalai Lama and Tibetan refugees to set up an administration in exile. Today, the Himalayan hill town of Dharamsala has become the center of the Tibetan exile world amongst its 140,000 refugees.
Facts about Tibet and Tibetan culture
Known as the roof of the world, Tibet is located North of the Indian and nepalese Himalayas and rests upon the earth's largest plataeu. Tibet is the source of freshwater to billions of people.
- Tibetan Buddhism has a rich and unique tradition of peaceful philosophical debate, as well as colourful traditional costume, dance and music.
- Tibet has been occupied by the Chinese government since the invasion in 1950. Estimates suggest that over 1 million Tibetans have died and over 5,000 monasteries have been destroyed as part of the ongoing suppression and genocide of Tibetan culture.
- Over 150,000 refugees now make up the world wide Tibetan diasporas, of which the most famous is His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.
What is the reality facing Tibetan refugees?
- Loneliness and isolation from family and friends.
- Disconnection and alienation from Indian and Western culture.
- Lack of community support structures
- Unemployment and lack of educational opportunities
- Alcoholism and drug abuse
- Language barriers
Tibet At a Glance
Head of State
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Seat of Government
Dharamsala, Northern India
Distribution of Refugees
Democratic with popular and electoral college voting
Religion & Culture
Information & International Relations
- Annual Voluntary Tax
- Business Revenue
- Handicraft Exports
- Carpet Weaving