Austin Barney, Columbia University


Once a powerful military empire, Tibet is home to one of Asia's most venerable civiliations, with a unique culture and complex history. Presently situated in the western part of the People's Republic of China, Tibet has been in news headlines recently due to the reports of protests and crackdowns that have been taking place there. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1912), Tibet, like China, was under the rule of the Manchus, who invaded and conquered China, and later adopted Tibet as a protectorate. Following the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1912, Tibetan areas enjoyed a period of de facto independence. Central Tibet was the domain of the Dalai Lama's government, while areas of Eastern Tibet (Kham) and Northeastern Tibet (Amdo) were governed by regional kings, chiefs, and warlords. In 1949, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) invaded and occupied Tibet. In 1959, Tibetans in the capital city of Lhasa rose up against the PLA, prompting a military backlash. At this time, the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, along with tens of thousands of Tibetans, fled into exile across the Himalayas to India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is now established in the town of Dharamsala.

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