Tibet marks 12 percent annual growth, but remains poor

April 14th, 2008 - 5:27 pm ICT by admin  

Beijing, April 14 (Xinhua) The economy of Tibet with a population of 2.8 million has registered an annual growth of 12 percent over the past seven years. The impressive growth rate notwithstanding, the Himalayan plateau remains one of China’s most underdeveloped regions owing to severe geographical limitations, relying heavily on investment from outside the region.

In 2007, the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) was 34.2 billion yuan ($4.88 billion), 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.

The region planned 180 projects with a total investment of 77 billion yuan in 2007. About 93 percent of the investment came from the central government.

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 travelled to the region in the first 18 months of the train’s operation.

According to the last census in 2000, the region’s population went up from 1.2 million in 1964 to more than 2.41 million in 2000.

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 to 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.

In 2006, the 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 houses and the regional government spending has totalled 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.

During the 10th five-year plan (2001-2005), more than 120 million yuan was spent to protect wetlands and grasslands in Tibet. The regional authorities have restricted the mining of gold and other minerals to preserve resources and protect the environment.

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.

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.

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