Major Events in Tibet's History

Major Events

12000 to 6000BC: Archaeologists date early settlements in Tibet to the Mesolithic era.

5000BC: Neolithic bone fragments and pottery found in Chamdo.

416BC: King Nyatri Tsenpo founds dynasty in Yarlung valley. Builds Yambulhakang, first Tibetan fortress.

620-649AD: Reign of King Songtsen Gampo, who unified Tibet. Written form of Tibetan language.

755-797: Reign of Emperor Trisong Detsen. Apex of Tibetan empire, whose influence extends from the Pamirs to Turkestan and to Nepal. Buddhism takes root in Tibet: Indian master Padmasambhava.

791: Completion of first monastery, Samye.

821: First peace treaty between Tibet and China. 11th Century: Second dissemination of Buddhism, many great monasteries are built. Decline of the imperial lineage.

1207: Genghis Khan rules over China, Korea and territories reaching as far as Europe. Tibet Falls under Mongolian domination.

1350: Tibet throws off the Mongolian yoke, resumes independence; China follows in 1368, Ming (Han) dynasty.

1357-1419: Je Tsongkhapa, founder of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) school; founds Ganden monastery, Sera and Drepung.

1543-1588: Sonam Gyatso, abbot of Drepung, third incarnation of Gedun Trupa (disciple of Tsongkhapa), conferred the title of Dalai Lama by Mongolian prince Altan Khan (1578).

1653: Fifth Dalai Lama visits Peking, invited by Shun Zhi, first Qing dynasty (1644-1911) emperor.

1720: Manchu army enters Lhasa to expel Mongolian invaders. The Manchu reorganise the Tibetan administration and impose a form of imperial 'supervision'.

1723-1735: Reign of Emperor Kangxi, who withdraws almost all imperial troops from Lhasa. From 1728 onwards, two Ambans in Lhasa act as representatives of the Manchu Emperor.

1788: Nepal invades Tibet. Emperor Qianlong sends a large army to help the Tibetans peace treaty is signed in 1792. Tibetan administration loses a little more of its independence. Important decisions no longer taken without reference to the Ambans.

1795: Death of Qianlong. Decline of Qing dynasty. Tibet seizes opportunity to recover its freedom.

1854: Nepal invades Tibet again but Manchu army stays out. Treaty between Tibet and Nepal signed in 1856.

1910: For the first time, a Manchu-Chinese army enters Tibet uninvited. It withdraws in 1911 after the fall of the Qing dynasty. Republic of China is founded.

1912: Tibetan government orders the expulsion of all Chinese in Tibet. The last one leaves in January 1913.

1913: The Thirteenth Dalai Lama and the Tibetan National Assembly proclaim Tibet's independence. Peking withholds recognition.

1914: Simla Convention initialled; London recognises Peking's 'suzerainty' over Tibet, not sovereignty. Tibet partitioned. China undertakes not to interfere in 'Outer Tibet'. Chinese government does not ratify the treaty.

1942: Lhasa sets up a Foreign Affairs Bureau.

1 October 1949: Mao-Tse Tung proclaims the People's Republic of China.

7 October 1950: 80,000 Chinese PLA soldiers invade Tibet.

23 May 1951: Signature in Peking of 17-Point Agreement, to enshrine the integration of Tibet with China. China undertakes to respect Tibet's extensive autonomy.

26 October 1951: Chinese army enters Lhasa.

10 March 1959: A Tibetan uprising in Lhasa against the Chinese is brutally put down, thousands of Tibetans are killed. The Dalai Lama flees into exile in India. Thousands of Tibetans jailed.

1 September 1965: Peking proclaims the creation of 'Tibet Autonomous Region'. At least half of Tibet's ethnic area is annexed to the neighbouring Chinese provinces.

August 1966: The cultural revolution comes to Lhasa. Temples and monasteries that were still standing are looted and razed. Thousands of Tibetans, lay and ordained, persecuted and sent to labour camps.

9 September 1976: Death of Mao Tse Tung.

December 1978: At Third Plenary of CCP Central Committee, ideology takes a sharp turn. For Tibet, dawn of limited religious tolerance.

January 1979: First delegation sent by the Dalai Lama visits China and Tibet, followed by another three; no genuine dialogue emerges.

1 October 1987: Hundreds of victims in violent aftermath of demonstration in Lhasa; official death toll is six deaths according to official Chinese figures but Western witnesses count thirteen or more.

5 March 1988: Another demonstration in Lhasa put down with even greater brutality. Chinese Armed Police fire on the crowd. "One dead and 109 injured", say Chinese. "Eight killed and hundreds arrested" say eyewitnesses.

10 December 1988: Police fire on demonstrators. Twelve fatalities and many injured.

5 March 1989: Lhasa in flames. Rioting lasts several days. On March 7, imposition of martial law. Protests drowned in blood, hundred of victims.

4 June 1989: Tiananmen square massacre. Chinese army opens fire on thousands of demonstrators in the heart of Peking. Three hundred killed say Chinese official; 1,000-3,000 butchered according to different sources. World discovers real face of Deng Xiaoping.

12 October 1989: First meeting between representatives of Dalai Lama and Chinese dissidents (Federation for Democracy in China) in Paris.

10 December 1989: Nobel Prize for Peace awarded to Dalai Lama.

February 1992: First UN document on 'The situation in Tibet' presents official PRC views contrasted with reports by seven recognised non-governmental organisations.

1992: Peking declares Tibet a 'Special Economic Zone'.

April 1993: Government of Taiwan invites Dalai Lama with no preconditions, declares respect for Kashag minister Gyalo Thondup.

24-25 May 1993: Largest Tibetan Demonstration in Lhasa since 1989.

1996: Photographs of Dalai Lama outlawed in Tibet.

7 January 2000: Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa Rinpoche reaches Dharamshala in India after a mysterious escape from his monastery in Tibet.

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