The Tibet Autonomous Region, covering one-eighth of China's territory with a population of 2.8 million, has developed rapidly in recent years. Here are a group of key facts and figures about Tibet:
Economy: The economy of Tibet has been growing at an annual rate of 12 percent or more over the past seven years. In 2007, the region's gross domestic product (GDP) was 34.2 billion yuan (about4.88 billion U.S. dollars), which was 12,000 yuan per capita -- double the 2002 figure. The per capita net income of farmers and herdsmen posted double-digit growth for a fifth consecutive year and reached 2,788 yuan in 2007.
Education: Over the past five years, 8.22 billion yuan in government funding has been invested in education to improve school facilities and raise literacy rates and the quality of education. The special annual educational subsidies for the children of Tibetan farmers and herders have been increased from 353 yuan 22 years ago to an average of 1,450 yuan in 2007.
Housing: In 2006, the Tibetan regional government launched a program to build homes for 220,000 local farming and herding households by 2010. More than 570,000 people have since moved into new residences and regional government spending has totaled 1.3 billion yuan. The per capita housing area for Tibetan herders has reached 36.4 square meters, 16.8 sq m more than before the project.
Environment: During the 10th five-year plan (2001-2005), more than 120 million yuan was spent to protect wetlands and grasslands in Tibet. The regional authorities have restricted the mining of gold and other minerals to preserve resources and protect the environment. Thirty-eight nature reserves have been established, covering 408,300 square kilometers, which represents 34 percent of the region's land area. Sources with the Tibetan regional environmental protection bureau said that another 10 billion yuan would be used to implement 14 environment-related projects before 2030.
Health: According to the provincial health department, 100 percent of farmers and herders, who account for 80 percent of the region's population, are covered by the medicare system and receive free medical care. The average life expectancy has risen from 35.5 years in the 1950s to 67.
Ethnicity and religion: According to the last census in 2000, the population of Tibetans has surged from 1.2 million in 1964 to more than 2.41 million in 2000, 92 percent of the region's total population. Among the newly elected deputies to local people's congresses in 2008, more than 80 percent are Tibetans or from other ethnic minorities at the regional, prefectural and city levels and 90 percent at the county and village levels. The central government has allocated more than 700 million yuan since 1980 to maintain 1,400 monasteries and cultural relics. Tibet has more than 1,700 religious sites for Tibetan Buddhism that accommodate 460,000 monks and nuns, four mosques with 3,000 Muslims, as well as a Catholic church for 700 believers.