Lhasa, Tibet, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. It lies on the Lhasa River in a mountain-rimmed valley 12,000 feet (3,660 m) above sea level and is about 1,600 miles (2,600 km) southwest of Beijing. Lhasa is primarily an agricultural trading center but also has handicraft industries, producing woolen cloth and carpets, leather goods, and metalwares. A few small factories have been built by the government since 1960.

For more than a thousand years Lhasa was the seat of Lamaist Buddhism and the residence of the Dalai Lama, the political and spiritual ruler of Tibet. From 1960 until about 1980, however, the Chinese government made a concerted effort to eliminate religious beliefs and many of Lhasa's monasteries and temples were destroyed or converted to other uses. Since then, some monasteries and temples have been restored, including the Jokhang Temple and the Potala, the former palace of the Dalai Lama.

Lhasa was founded about 400 A.D.Because of its geographical isolation the city had little contact with the outside world. Visits from outsiders were discouraged and Lhasa was called the “Forbidden City.” Few Westerners ever saw it until the 20th century. The city was conquered by the Chinese Communists in 1950. A Tibetan uprising in 1959 was crushed by Chinese troops, and the Dalai Lama fled to India.

Population: 124,000.