Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Tibet (西藏) – some data on demographics and infrastructure

 No, not the Potala but the Dzong of Shigatse
Like a phoenix out ot the ashes

I’ve been to Tibet three times 1998, 2009 and just now. Lots of changes have taken place to a country that was hardly accessible in the first half of the 20th century. Tibet is larger than the Tibet Autonomous Region; if I say Tibet, however, I mean the Tibet Autonomous Region (西藏自治区) [1].

Tibet is part of China as for instance Xinjiang (新疆). You might think that this is debatable, but according to the law of nations it isn’t. Tibet had been isolated as a snail in its house, not wishing to have contact to other nations or even foreign individuals. Tibet never established foreign relations.

The population of 2014 numbered 3,180,000, of which 90% were Tibetans and 8% were Han-Chinese. Maybe in larger cities the percentage of Han-Chinese is a little higher. Don’t forget that there are millions of tourists each year in Tibet – mostly Han-Chinese: “The region aims to receive over 30 million tourists in 2020, …” [2]. It seems to be a lot, but tourists only stay a couple of days. Unclear is the number of military personnel in Tibet, which might be considerable.

The roads have improved pretty much. There are some freeways and long stretches of paved and well maintained roads; you might argue the reason for it, but it is as it is. The harsh environment and the yearly floods during the monsoon season lead to the need of constant repairs. I’ll write in another blogpost about it. And roads in the west (the wild west of Tibet) are in lesser shape.

Road and parallel power lines

There is the Qinghai–Tibet Railway from Golmud to Lhasa, which was completed 2005; I’ve travelled with this railway in 2009. It was interesting to see the vastness of a country, which is hardly inhabited. Since 2014 there has been the Lhasa–Shigatse Railway, which I’ve seen, but not used. Another railway to Sichuan is under construction.

The airport, a tourist will use is near Lhasa – the Gonggar Airport. The airport near Shigatse is called Peace Airport, but I’ve seen an awful lot of military installment next to it.

The telephone net is well developed. And the electrification of the country had made a leap forward. There are already lots of electrically powered cars and bikes. This also leads to lots of power lines going parallel to the roads; much to my dismay as for photography.



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