Tibet is a country that covers the majority of the Tibetan Plateau in Asia. Tibet is home to some of the highest elevations in the world and some of the most extreme weather. Tibetan culture is heavily influenced by Buddhism, which you can see in their art, music, and festivals. Check out these 8 interesting Tibet facts:
Fact #1: Tibet Is Connected To China By Railway
Tibet is one of the most exciting countries to explore by train. Tibet is connected to China by the Qinghai-Tibet railway. At its peak, this railway reaches over 16,500 feet! The elevation is so high that the conductor and passengers are given an oxygen supply for the journey. They even have a doctor on board in case anything goes wrong. The Qinghai-Tibet railway consists of over 675 bridges and 45 stations with plans for more on the way.
Fact #2: The Dalai Lama Put A Stop To KFC In Tibet
If you have a craving for a crispy golden bird, Tibet is the last place you want to be. In 2004, the Dalai Lama himself wrote a letter urging KFC to halt their plans of expanding into Tibet. The Dalai Lama was concerned with how the mass slaughter of chickens violated traditional values held by most people in Tibet.
In the letter published by PETA, the Dalai Lama pointed out that Tibetans traditionally preferred large animals such as yaks since it wasn’t necessary to kill as many of them to feed everyone.
Fact #3: Many Tibetan Festivals Are Unique To The Region
In Tibet, you can find over 100 unique festivals every year. Many of these festivals are related to the Buddhist religion and essential activities such as farming. Festivals usually are related to entertainment, seasonal events, community celebrations, or religious observances.
Some festivals last just one night while others can go for up to 10 days. Tibetan New Year and the Shoton Festival are among the most highly anticipated festivals you can find touring in Tibet. Enjoying Tibetan festivals is a great way to get familiar with the culture and the Tibetan people.
Fact #4: Tibet Has A Rich History Of Monasteries
The Buddhist monasteries in Tibet play a vital role in forming the country’s identity. Each monastery holds great cultural and religious significance. Monasteries are responsible for running educational efforts, housing orphanages, and taking care of senior citizens in their communities.
These are places of worship and play a significant role in the political climate of the country. Many monasteries are built on mountains where deities are believed to reside. Building monasteries on mountains is also believed to bring people closer to the heavens.
Fact #5: Yaks Play A Vital Role In Tibetan Society
In Tibet, yaks are probably the most popular and useful animals around. Tibetan yaks are incredibly strong, which allows them to help farmers on a daily basis. Yaks are also used to carry loads during long trips at high altitudes. Tibetans make sure to honor the important role yaks play by dedicating a few festivals to them every year. Yaks are highly respected thanks to the important role they play in surviving life at high altitude.
Fact #6: Tibet Is Home To Many Different Rivers
Even though Tibet has a very dry climate, it’s home to over 15,000 different lakes. Tibet is also the source of many of the main rivers in Asia. Rivers such as the Indus, the Karnali, and the Yangste stem from Tibet. These rivers and many others flow into the surrounding countries, including China, Nepal, India, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Fact #7: Tibet Is Pretty Huge
The Tibetan plateau is the largest and most elevated plateau in the world. With an average altitude of 16,000 feet, this plateau covers over 715,000 square miles if you include areas outside of Tibet. The Tibetan plateau is affectionately referred to as “the roof of the world” since it stands over 3 miles above sea level!
The plateau is also surrounded by the two most imposing mountain ranges in the world – K2 and Mount Everest. The Tibetan Plateau is home to the third largest store of ice in the world. With global warming becoming more of a problem, flooding and mudflows will be a concern in this area.
Fact #8: Tibet Is Extremely Dry
Tibet has an extreme climate. The high altitude combined with extremes of both hot and cold, creates a variety of punishing conditions. It’s not uncommon for Tibet to endure wind storms, dust storms, and even hail storms. The air in Tibet is so dry that grain can be stored for decades before going bad. The 2009 drought in Tibet was one of the worst cases of a dry climate that the country had ever seen. Over 13,000 herds of cattle died while thousands of hectares of land were left parched and starving for water.