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Ethnic Groups, Population and Religion
· Ethnic Makeup
· Population
· Religion
· Religious Belief
Ethnic Makeup
Tibetans form the major ethnic group in the Tibet Autonomous Region. In China as a whole, apart from those scattered in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan, Yunnan and other provinces, around half of the people of the Tibetan ethnic group dwell in Tibet. As one of the most ancient ethnic group in China, the Tibetan race was formed in the 7th century when the Tubo Kingdom unified many tribes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. As these people have since been living there ever since, the bulk of the plateau is referred to as the Tibetan-inhabited area.
In history, natural calamities, diseases and poor medical conditions, plus the fact that monks and nuns were not allowed to marry, meant that the Tibetan population registered negative growth for a prolonged period of time and there was even a sharp decrease. According to historical records, from the 7th to the 18th century, the Tibetan population overall decreased by 8 million while in the 200 years from the 18th to the mid-20th century, the population further declined by 800,000.
Religions practiced in Tibet encompass Tibetan Buddhism, Bon and folk religion, plus Islam and Christianity. At present, there are some 1,700 monasteries and nunneries of Tibetan Buddhism in the region, with 46,000 resident monks and nuns; 88 monasteries of the Bon religion, with some 3,000 resident monks, 93 Living Buddhas and over 130,000 religious followers; four mosques, with some 3,000 followers; and one Christian church, with over 700 worshippers.
Religious Belief
Freedom of religious belief is a basic State policy of China. Article 36 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China stipulates that all citizens enjoy freedom of religious belief; no State organ, social organization or individual is allowed to force any citizen to believe or not to believe in any religion; nor discriminate against any citizen with or with no religious belief; the State protects normal religious activities.
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