POPULATION — About 2.7 million people, mostly Tibetans, according to the Chinese government. Official figures are believed to underestimate large numbers of China’s Han ethnic majority who have migrated to the region in recent years to find work or open businesses.
RELIGION — Once a warlike kingdom, Tibet adopted Buddhism 1,300 years ago. The Dalai Lamas became the supreme spiritual and temporal leaders about 300 years ago. Over centuries, Tibet was at times part of expansive Chinese empires. Chinese Communist troops entered Tibet in 1951 to reassert control, and the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 following an abortive uprising.
ECONOMY — Tibet remains China’s poorest province. China has poured billions of dollars in investments and subsidies into Tibet to boost the economy and tamp down anti-government sentiment. Most Tibetans remain farmers and herders. Average incomes hit 2,788 yuan (US$395; euro270) last year according to official statistics.
POLITICS — Radical Communist policies in Tibet eased in the 1980s, but controls over religion tightened again following 1989 riots against Chinese rule, led in part by the Buddhist clergy. Talks between China and envoys from the Dalai Lama occurred sporadically earlier this decade, though without substantive progress. The Dalai Lama says he seeks genuine autonomy for Tibet within China, though Beijing accuses him of promoting separatism.