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The Tibetan areas in Asia

The term "Tibet" is quite ambiguous; therefore it will not be used in the present paper. According to the context, it refers to different areas.

  • The whole areas inhabited by people who are ethno-linguistically Tibetans (the whole area in light grey on the map below); most of these areas are in China, but they also include most of Bhutan, a major part of Nepal and some areas in India and Pakistan.
  • The same areas, but limited to the Chinese territory. This territory can be subdivided into the cultural regions of Central Tibet (with Lhasa as its capital), Amdo and Kham.
  • The area which was historically under temporal control of the Lhasa administration (Central Tibet in the map below).
  • Today's Tibet Autonomous Region, which is roughly equivalent to the area above, but includes a part of Kham too. This is the area which was under effective control of the Lhasa administration in the second quarter of the 20th century.
  • The area where the Dalai Lama had some spiritual authority, which gave the Lhasa administration some degree of temporal control; this area cannot be precisely delimited.

In Chinese, "Tibet" is translated by "??" (Pinyin "Xizang", pronounced "shizang"), which actually means "Western Tibet". This refers explicitly to Central Tibet (which is actually the western part of the Tibetan areas). In the present text, "Tibetan areas" (Chinese ??) , short for "Chinese Tibetan areas", is used as a generic and unambiguous term for the areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans in China.

Tibet: Map of the areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans in China and surrounding countries.

Map of the areas inhabited by ethnic Tibetans in China and surrounding countries; click to enlarge.

Almost all these areas are at an altitude of above 3000 m. They feature a mix of high plains, soft hills and steep mountains. See the article Concrete projects for a more detailed map of this region.

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