PRC census puts Tibet Autonomous Region population at 3.65 million

The Barkhor District is one of Lhasa’s three pilgrim circuits which also encircles the Jokhang Temple. (Photo courtesy: Christa Hoskins/Smithsonian Magazine)

(, May12’21) – The Tibet autonomous region (TAR) now has a population of 3.65 million, an increase of more than 21.5% compared with 2010, reported China’s official May 12, citing the PRC’s 2020 census which was published on May 11. TAR constitutes roughly the western half of what the Tibetan people view as their historical homeland.

The report said about 91% of the population in TAR were members of the Tibetan ethnic group.

The report cited the regional government as saying previously that the growth in its population was a result of improvements in healthcare, especially in childbirth and efforts to prevent infectious diseases.

The more likely reason, however, was the relentless influx of Chinese immigrants which the Chinese government actively encourages and which it and its official media never talk about.

The report said the population growth rate of ethnic minority groups in the PRC had been significantly higher than that of the Chinese ethnic group over the past decade, “which showed that people from all ethnic groups had benefited from the nation’s all-around development.”

China was scheduled to publish its latest 10-yearly census data in Apr 2021; but it came out only on May 11. The census was expected to show that the PRC’s population had declined.

The postponed release shows that the PRC’s population rose to 1.412 billion in 2020, an increase of 72 million over the past one decade.

The growth rate had slowed for four past successive years and the population is expected to see a decline from as early as 2022, according to China’s official May 11. The prospect of the country growing old before it becomes rich is a big challenge to the Chinese government.


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