With an average elevation of 4,000 meters, Tibet is widely known as the "Roof of the World'', an ancient but mysterious place in many people's minds. This 1.2 million square km land--one-eighth of the country's total--currently supports a population of 2.32 million. It is a minority nationality autonomous region with a predominant Tibetan population.
The Tibetan people have a long history and splendid ancient culture within the Chinese nation. However, in old China, Tibetan science and technology was extremely backward. Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Central Government has paid much attention to the development of scientific undertakings in the region, and shown great concern and support in this regard. Over the past four decades, the people in Tibet, while inheriting and developing traditional techniques, have energetically promoted modern science and technology. Monumental progress has been achieved in fields of breeding, plantation, cultivation, medicine, environmental protection, energy resource development, communications and meteorology, as well as in the creation of new technologies and products.
Statistics show that by the end of 1995, Tibetan scientific workers had completed 2,368 scientific research projects, 511 of which won awards at regional level, with 11 gaining scientific progress prizes at national level. Some results suitable for highland regions have even reached advanced international level. At the same time, a great many scientific achievements have been commercialized, and thus have made tremendous contributions to economic construction and social development.
The first scientific research institute, the July 1st Experimental Farm of Agricultural Science and Technology established in Lhasa on July 1,1952, has been followed over the years by a complete range of scientific and technological research, popularization and management institutions. At present, the region has a total of 21 scientific research institutes, with 17 under the jurisdiction of the autonomous region and four under prefectural control. Their research work, involving agriculture, animal husbandry, veterinary medicine, forestry, communications, highland biology, ecology, solar energy, geothermal energy, traditional Tibetan medicine and astronomy, has ploughed modern scientific and technological seeds into this old land. At the end of 1994, there were 831 scientific research workers including 287 Tibetan scientists and engineers. With the constant growth of young scientists and technicians, scientific and technological strength has been gradually enhanced.
At the region's working conference on science and technology held at the end of 1995, Gyaincain Norbu, Chairman of the regional people's government, delivered an important report entitled Vitalizing Tibet by Science and Education, Accelerating Science and Technology Progress and Striving for the Second Strategic Goal. The conference adopted the Decision of the CPC Tibet Autonomous Region Committee and the Autonomous Region People's Government on Implementation of the Strategy of Vitalizing Tibet by Science and Education and Acceleration of Science and Technology Progress. This is now the firm goal of people of all nationalities in the region.