The Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), also called Xizang Autonomous Region is a province-level autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (PRC).
Within the People's Republic of China, Tibet is identified with the Autonomous Region, which includes about half of ethno-cultural Tibet, including the traditional provinces of ?-Tsang and Kham (western half). Its borders coincide roughly with the actual zone of control of the government of Tibet before 1959. The Tibet Autonomous Region is the second-largest province-level division of China by area (spanning over 470,000 sq mi/1,200,000 km2) after Xinjiang.
Unlike other autonomous regions, the vast majority of inhabitants are of the local ethnicity. As a result, there is debate surrounding the extent of actual autonomy of the region. The Chinese government argues that Tibet has ample autonomy, as guaranteed under Articles 112-122 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as well as the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy of the People's Republic of China, while some human rights organizations accuse the Chinese government of persecuting and oppressing the local population.
The Central Tibetan Administration, commonly referred to as the Tibetan Government in Exile and headed by the Dalai Lama considers the administration of Tibet by the Chinese government as an illegitimate military occupation and holds that Tibet is a distinct sovereign nation with a long history of independence, though the Dalai Lama currently does not seek full independence for Tibet, but would accept Tibet as a genuine autonomous region within the People's Republic of China.
The Tibet Autonomous Region is located on the Tibetan Plateau, the highest region on Earth. In northern Tibet elevations reach an average of over 4,572 metres (15,000 ft). Mount Everest is located on Tibet's border with Nepal.
Tourists were first permitted to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region in the 1980s. While the main attraction is the Potala Palace in Lhasa, there are many other popular tourist destinations including Jokhang Temple, Namtso Lake, and Tashilhunpo Monastery. Some areas remain restricted to tourists.