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Tibet

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TIBET, tIb'et or ti-bet, or THIBET, a country of central Asia, under Chinese suze rainty, lying between latitude 28° and 36° N., and between long. 79° and 103° E. It is hounded on the north by East (Chinese) Tur kestan, on the east by China proper, on the south by British India, Bhutan and Nepal and on the west by the Indian state of Kashmir. The area is estimated at about 463,200 square miles. Tibet forms the most extensive and loftiest plateau region in the world. It is structurally a complex of faulted mountains whose inter vening valleys have been filled up with detritus, converting them into plains whose general level lies from 10,000 to 17,000 feet above the sea, while the mountains tower almost as high again above them. The main Himalaya range runs along the southwestern boundary and the Kara koram with its outrunners traverses the west ern part of the country. These ranges have numerous peaks between 20,000 and 29,000 feet in height. On the northern boundary runs the Kuen-Lun Range, sending numerous spurs and offshots into the plateau. The eastern half of Tibet is traversed by a system of more or less parallel ranges with a southeast trend. The en closed plains in western and northern Tibet form closed drainage basins, very poorly watered, and containing salt lakes. The eastern longi tudinal valleys are drained by the headwaters of the Yang-tse-kiang, Hoang-ho and Salwin rivers and in the south, along the northern base of the Himalayas, run the Indus to the west and the Brahmaputra to the east. The climate is excessively dry, with great and sud den fluctuations in temperature, and severe cold and biting north winds in winter. The vegetation is scanty and characteristic of desert and al pine regions. There are green meadows only along the streams and in the eastern mountains are forests of birch, poplar and coniferous trees. Wild animals are very numerous along the watered regions and antelopes, yak oxen and wild asses are characteristic of the steppes.

The inhabitants, who number about 2,000,000, are of a semi-civilized Mongolian race some what akin to the Burmese. In the north they are nomadic, but in the south they are settled in substantial houses of stone or sun-dried brick, and cultivate the soil along the river valleys. The industries are not important, but there is a considerable trade with China, and wool, furs, music, gold, borax and salt are exported. The language of the people is simi lar to the Chinese, but has taken on poly syllabic characters. A considerable amount of literature, mainly religious, has been accumu lated, and printing has been practised for centu ries. The. prevailing religion is Buddhism, of the form known as Lamaism. The priesthood is exceedingly numerous and the government is a theocracy. At its head is the Grand Lama or Dalai Lama, who resides at Lhasa (q.v.), the capital, and who claims to be the head of the Buddhist world. This priest government has enforced a strict exclusion of non-Buddhist foreigners, particularly from the capital. A

Chinese resident was permanently stationed at Lhasa. Russian diplomatic influence seemed to have gained a foothold in Tibet when, in 1903, the British Indian government took the occasion of the non-compliance of the Tibetans with the terms of the treaties of 1890 and 1893, governing frontier trade relations, to send a military expedition across the boundary. The avowed purpose was to negotiate with the Tibetan government, but the latter declined to negotiate and the British column pushed on toward Lhasa. On 31 March 1904 at Guru where the Tibetans had built a wall across the highway to oppose the advance, 1,500 of their soldiers were flanked and effectively enclosed in a circle. An attempt to disperse them, and make them retire without firing on them, was met by the Tibetan general wounding a Sikh by a pistol shot which was the signal for a general onslaught by the Tibetans. A terrible magazine rifle fire, and the bringing into ac tion of a mountain battery resulted in the slaughter of about 400 of their soldiers, the British subsequently occupying their camp. The advance also met with serious opposition at the Karo-la, and at Gyantse Ong or castle, where for a time they were besieged by thou sands of Tibetans. The expedition eventually reached Lhasa; after long negotiations, ended only by the threat of enforcing compliance, Colonel Younghusband concluded a treaty which was afterward censured by the Indian government as in excess of his instruction. Protest from the Chinese government led to the Anglo-Chinese convention in 1906, whereby British evacuation of Chumbi Valley was se cured and China, as Suzerain power of Tibet, paid an indemnity of 2,500,000 rupees. The agreement entered into between the two coun tries at this rime was further strengthened by the conclusion of trade regulations between India and Tibet (1908). At the time of the Chinese Revolution in 1911 the Tibetans ex pelled the Chinese garrison, and an expedition subsequently sent out from Szechuan and Yun nan was withdrawn because of Great Britain's disapproval. In 1912 the British government outlined its attitude toward the Tibetan ques t:on, in accordance with the provisions of the treaty of 1906, objecting to Chinese assertion of sovereignty over Tibet. A tripartite con ference was opened at Simla in 1913, but was dissolved without reaching any satisfactory agreement. Since that time Great Britain has declined to reopen negotiations. Consult Coales, 0., 'Eastern Tibet' (in Geographical Journal, April 1919); Gerard, F., (Tiber: The Country and its Inhabitants) (tr. from French, London 1904) • Landon, P., The Tibet Expedition, 1903-04) (2d ed., London 1906) ; Lansdell, H., (Chinese Central Asia) (2 vols., London 1893) ; Rijnhart, S. C., With the Tibe tans in Tent and (London 1901); Younghusband, F. E., (India and Tibet) (Lon don 1910).