People & Languages

Tibetans are the main inhabitants on the plateau. Tibetans are happy people, they know how to enjoy their life in any circumstance. At present there are Tibetan, Menpa, Luopa, Han Chinese, hui, sherpa and a few Deng people living in Tibet while Tibetans are the main inhabitants on the plateau. Most Tibetans in cities fell to craftsmen. However, more and more people step into business nowadays. Traditionally farmers settled in small villages, mainly growing barley while the roaming nomads earned their living by herding yaks and sheep. Most Tibetans in cities fell to craftsmen. However, more and more people step into business nowadays. Tibetan language belongs to Sino-Tibetan phylum. People in U and Tsang, Kham and Chamdo speak different dialects. Most Tibetans are devout Buddhists while a few believe in the old Bon. Islam and Catholicism also have a few followers in Lhasa and Yanjing respectively. Since China's Family Planning program is not carried out among Tibetan people, Tibetan population keeps growing. According to the census conducted in 2000, there are 2,616,300 people in Tibet, with Tibetans totaling 2,411,100 and 92.2% of the current Tibet population. The statistic also shows that Tibetans' average life reaches 68 due to the improving standard of living and medical service. The illiterate people are reduced to 850,700.

Tibetans have their own language, which is known as “bod-yig” in the Tibetan-inhabited areas with the meaning of “Tibetan language”. Tibetan language belongs to the Tibetan-Burman branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. According to geographical divisions, it has three major local dialects: Weizang, Kang and Amdo. The first two dialects have their own tones in pronunciation while the latter don’t. Created in the early 7th century, the Tibetan language, a phonetic system of writing, was based on the writing system of the ancient Sanskrit language of India. Tibetan language consists of thirty consonant, four vowels, five inverted letters (for the renting of foreign words) and the punctuations. Sentences are written from right to the left. With two major written scripts namely the regular script and the cursive hand, Tibetan language is widely used in all areas inhabited by Tibetans. In 641 AD, Songtsen Gampo, a king in southern Tibet, married Wen chen Konjo of the Tang dynasty, which gave a boost to the development of the Tibetan culture. From the 10th century to the 16th century, the Tibetan culture developed dramatically. Throughout the centuries, the Tibetans bring to us not only the two well-known Buddhist master pieces, the Bka-gyur, and the Bstan-gyur, but also other great works on cadences, literature, philosophy, history, geography, arithmetic, calendar, medicine and so on.