|Facts, figures about Tibet's development|
BEIJING, April 13 (Xinhua) -- 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 some key facts and figures about Tibet:
Economy: The Tibet economy 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), about 12,000 yuan per capita - double the 2002 figure. The per capita net income of farmers and herdsmen posted double-digit growth for the fifth consecutive year and reached 2,788 yuan in 2007. However, despite the rapid development, Tibet remains one of China's most underdeveloped regions due to its harsh natural conditions and weak economy. It has relied heavily on investment. The region planned 180 projects with a total investment of 77 billion yuan in 2007. About 93 percent of the investment came from the Chinese central government.
Infrastructure: By the end of 2007, 612 townships had been connected by roads, accounting for 89.6 percent of all townships in the region. All townships had been linked with telephones, and over 70 percent had postal access. The Qinghai-Tibet Railway, opened in July 2006, had carried over 6 million tourists to the region by February. Up to the end of last year, about 43 percent of the tourists traveled by train in the line's first 18 months of operation.
Ethnicity: 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 were Tibetans or from other ethnic minorities at the regional, prefectural and city levels and 90 percent at the county and village levels. Local government had issued 255 regional regulations since 1965 when the autonomous region set up, covering preservation of traditional culture, natural environment to adaptation to the law of marriage, among others. For example, traditional Tibetan festivals, including the Tibetan New Year and the Xodoin Festival, are legal holidays in the autonomous region. People in Tibet work 35 hours per week, five hours less than the national legal standard.
Education: Over the past five years, 8.22 billion yuan in government funding has been invested in the region's 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 in 1985 to an average of 1,450 yuan in 2007. The enrolment rate of primary schools and junior middle schools for school age children reached 98.2 percent and 90.7 percent respectively.
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 square meters 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 authority has restricted the mining of gold and other minerals to preserve resources and protect the environment. A total of 38 nature reserves have been established, covering 408,300 square kilometers, which represent 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 environmental-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 medical care system. The average life expectancy has risen from 35.5 years in the 1950s to present 67 years. The local government has also taken measures to solve drinking water difficulties and ensure drinking water safety for 1.02 million farmers and herdsmen.
Religion: 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 46,000 monks and nuns. Also included are four mosques for 3,000 Muslims, as well as a Catholic church for 700 believers.