Is Tibet a Country?

The Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet.

A country is a distinct national entity which has sovereignty and is not governed by another government. It is a territory with boundaries where people live and a government which makes laws. The people living in an independent nation must adhere to the laws made by their government. According to the above description, Tibet is not counted as a country.

Why is Tibet not considered to be a country?

Tibet is an autonomous region of People’s Republic of China which was established in 1965 to replace an administrative region known as Tibet Area which they inherited from Republic of China. It is the second biggest Chinese autonomous province which occupies an area of about 460,000 square miles right after Xinjiang. Due to its rugged and harsh landscape, it is the least populous provincial-level division in PRC (People’s Republic of China). Tibet’s boundaries were established during the eighteenth century. Tibet is bordered by Central China Plain to the eastern and northern side, Bhutan, India, and Nepal to the south and Kashmir to the west.

As much as the Chinese laws guarantee them some autonomy in numerous areas of language and education policies, the PRC’s government oversees the administration of the region. Just like all the other Chinese provinces, the regular administration is done by the PRC’s government under the leadership of a Chairman. The Shengwei Changwei also known as the Provincial party standing committees serve as the top team in charge of the political power in all the Chinese provinces.


Tibet was ROC’s territory from 1912 to 1950, but due to the problems in establishing a new government after the World War Two, Chinese civil war, Japanese invasion, warlord era, and the Xinhai Revolution, the Republic was unable to administer over the region. The liberation army of PRC marched into Tibet in 1950 and defeated their army in a battle fought in Chamdo city. After the war, the people’s government and Tibetan representative signed the 17-point agreement in 1951 which affirmed PRC’s sovereignty over the region.

Even though the agreement created an autonomous administration under the Dalai Lama, the people’s government established a Preparatory Committee which created an administration system in 1955. The Preparatory Committee excluded Dalai’s government, and after being threatened by the Chinese forces, Dalai fled to India and renounced the agreement in 1959. The Tibet autonomous region was created in 1965 which made the territory one of China’s provincial-level divisions.

Administrative Divisions in Tibet

Tibet has one prefecture, six prefecture-level cities, and seven prefecture-level divisions. These regions are further split into eight districts and sixty-six counties. Lhasa is the administrative capital of the autonomous area and has over 330,000 residents. Lhasa is elevated at an altitude of about 11,995 feet and has an area of approximately 203 sq miles. Lhasa has been the regions administrative and religious capital since the mid-seventeenth century. Lhasa is home to the world's highest palace. 


More in World Facts