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Tibet Population Tops 2.8 Million
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The population of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region climbed to 2.81 million last year, up 40,000 on 2005, according to the latest report on the region's social and economic development.

The growth rate averaged 1.17 percent, with a birthrate of 1.74 percent and a death rate of 0.57 percent, said the report, jointly published by Tibet's regional bureau of statistics and a survey team of the National Bureau of Statistics.

It said the life expectancy of the regional population averaged 67 years, compared with 35.5 years in 1951, the year of Tibet's peaceful liberation.

While the report didn't give a breakdown of the Tibet people as against other ethnic groups, it said that more than 2.5 million Tibet people made up at least 92 percent of the regional population in the most recent census in 2003.

Tibet occupies one eighth of Chinese territory but has the smallest population, with an average of less than three people per square kilometer. The region spans 1.2 million square kilometers, twice the size of France.

The region had only 1.14 million people in 1951.

China's family planning policy, which limits most urban couples to one child and rural families to two since the late 1970s, does not apply to Tibet people.

The report attributed the population growth to social stability and sustained economic development in Tibet, fostered by assistance from central government and other Chinese localities.

The central government has provided at least 6.2 billion yuan (US$775 million) of assistance to Tibet in the past decade. Nearly 3,000 government employees and business executives from leading state-owned firms have rotated to work in Tibet for a minimum of one year.

Tibet reported 29 billion yuan (US$3.7 billion) of gross domestic product last year, up 13.4 percent, the fastest growth rate in the past decade.

Farmers and herders posted a per capita net annual income of 2,435 yuan (US$312), a figure the central government wishes to increase to 3,820 yuan (US$478) by 2010, near the national average for farmers.

(Xinhua News Agency April 12, 2007)

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