Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Biggest And Most Impressive Hindu Temple Sites In The World

Cambodia's Angkor Wat, built as a Hindu temple for the god Vishnu during the rule of the Khmer Empire, is the largest religious monument in the world.

Hindu temples are important places for Hindu culture, religion, and traditions. They are often visited on auspicious occasions as part of pilgrimages rather than as a regular practice. Hindus, in diaspora or dispersed communities, see temples as important social environments where they can meet other members of their community to strengthen social bonds. Unlike other religions, visiting temples for worship is not a mandate for the Hindus. They have home shrines where they can partake in home puja, which is part of their dharma. In Hinduism, dharma means morality, duty or virtue and refers to the power which upholds the universe or society.

With major Hindu Complexes around the world, each of them holds a strong historical significance, and some are even named after gods. Here are some of the biggest and most impressive Hindu temple complexes in the world.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the largest religious complex in the world, covering an area of 820,000 square meters. It is located in Angkor, Cambodia. This temple complex was originally constructed for god Vishnu during the Khmer Empire and gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century. The Angkor Wat is the best-preserved temple and a major tourist attraction in Cambodia. Due to its high classical architecture and religious significance, it has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on the country’s national flag.

Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple

Also known as Thiruvarangam, this Hindu temple is the second-largest temple complex in the world. It covers 631,000 square meters and located in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India . It is constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture and dedicated to Vishnu. Due to its location in on an island in Cauvery river, it has experienced numerous natural disasters as well as invading Muslim and European armies. It is the largest Indian temple and one of the largest religious complexes in the world.

Akshardham

This temple complex is an important display of the Indian culture over the centuries. It incorporates traditional Indian architecture and serves as an important spiritual symbol. Of all the tourists who visit New Delhi, over 70% end up visiting the Akshardham temple complex. It is a renowned tourist attraction point boasting of traditional foods and restaurants located inside the religious grounds. Other points of interest in the temple complex include Sahaj Anand water show, a thematic garden and three exhibitions namely Sahajanand Darshan (Hall of Values), Neelkanth Darshan (an IMAX film on the early life of Swaminarayan as the teenage yogi, Neelkanth), and cultural boat ride (Sanskruti Darshan).

Belur Math, Ramakrishna Temple

Belur Math, Ramakrishna temple is located in West Bengal, India and was founded by Swami Vivekananda, a chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. This temple serves as a unifying symbol of all religions and includes Islamic, Hindu, and Christian motifs. It covers 160,000 square meters, making it the fourth largest religious complex in the world.

Other notable Hindu complexes include; Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram (India), Prambanan, Trimurti temple compound (Indonesia , Brihadeeswarar Temple (India), Annamalaiyar Temple (India), Rajagopalaswamy Temple (India) and Rajagopalaswamy Temple (India).

The Biggest And Most Impressive Hindu Temple Complexes In The World

Rank Name of the temple Area (m²) L
1 Angkor Wat 820,000 A C
2 Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam 631,000 Ti T In
3 Akshardham 240,000 D
4 Belur Math, Ramakrishna temple 160,000 H B
5 Thillai Nataraja Temple, Chidambaram 160,000 C T In
6 Prambanan, Trimurti temple compound 152,000 Y In
7 Brihadeeswarar Temple 102,400 T T In
8 Annamalaiyar Temple 101,171 Ti T In
9 Rajagopalaswamy temple 93,000 M T In
10 Ekambareswarar Temple 92,860 K T

By Andrew Mwaniki

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Fado – The Soul of Portuguese Music

Fado music is a form of Portuguese singing that is often associated with pubs , cafés and restaurants. This music genre has much earlier origins but is generally placed as being originated in the 1820’s in Portugal. Fado is generally known for how expressive in nature it is, as well as being profoundly melancholic.

Generally in fado music, the singer will sing about the hard realities of the daily life, balancing both resignation and hopefulness that a resolution to its torments can still occur. It can be described by using the Portuguese word “saudade”, which means “longing” and stands for a feeling of loss. This loss is generally a permanent loss and of long-term consequences. Fado music often has one or two 12 string guitars, one or two violas, and sometimes a small 8 string, bass.

Fado music has two main varieties:

Lisbon Fado

Lisbon Fado is the more well-known of the two styles of fado. This style has roots in social contexts that are set in marginality and transgression. It was frequently found in locations of sailors and prostitutes. In the early 1900’s, it found a popular following that would continue to follow today. It came across some difficult times in 1926, when censorship caused major changes to urban entertainment and placing hefty requirements on any shows and venues. Thanks to the popularity of the radio, fado found its place in homes across Portugal. In the 1990’s, fado found its place in the World Music circuits. In order to applaud fado in Lisbon, you are to clap your hands.

Coimbra Fado

Coimbra fado has ties to academic traditions of University of Coimbra. The singers and other musicians will wear the tradition academic wardrobe that consists of dark robes, capes, and leggings. They will sing this fado at night time on the streets or in the city square. While Lisbon often appealed to those in the working-class fields, Coimbra appeals to the more privileged classes.

There are a few other differences between Lisbon and Coimbra, aside from the group of people the music appeals to. Lisbon fado can be sung by anyone regardless of gender, while Coimbra is only sung by males. Coimbra fado generally is about finding hope in the everyday hardships that people live through. In contrast, Lisbon fado would suggest surrender when being faced with those hardships.

Lisbon style often features improvisation during performances, whereas Coimbra is constantly rehearsed before performances.

Fado, Modern Fado and Amalia Rodrigues

The fado genre was brought to the music world mainstream by Rainha do Fado (Queen of Fado) Amalia Rodrigues (July 23, 1920 – October 6, 1999). Known as Amalia do the world she became one of the most important personalities for the genre and the main inspiration for contemporary and modern Fado.

Amalia had a personality, charisma, extraordinary timbre of voice, and beauty that made her an acclaimed artists whose services were requested by Monarchs and Presidents. By the time of her death Amalia had received over 40 decorations and honors for her music, stage presence and philanthropy including the Legion d’Honneur by the French government. She was given a state funeral and her remains are in Lisbon’s National Pantheon (the only woman to have the honor). Amalia single-handedly placed Fado in the world map.

Since the early 21st century, and influenced by Amalia Rodrigues there is a new found popularity in this type of music due to Modern Fado. Modern fado has incorporated new instruments including piano, violin, accordion. They have also begun combining fado with other popular genres. Some current artists of this genre include Madredeus, Ana Moura, Dulce Pontes and Mariza. Mariza in particular is highly popular, winning numerous awards in the World Music category and has been feature in the David Letterman show.

By Tony Coelho

•culled from www.portugal.com

What Is the Holi Festival?

The Holi Festival is a Hindu festival that takes place in India and Nepal.

What Is the Holi Festival?

Holi is an annual Hindu festival held in the spring to signify the triumph of good over evil, the end of winter, and the arrival of spring. For many, it is a festival to meet friends, mend relationships, and to forgive and forget. The Holi Festival is sometimes referred to as the Festival of Love or the Festival of Colors. In the recent past, the festival has attracted attention and inspired the Color Run and the Birmingham’s Holi Rave. The festival is characterized by the use of colored powder that people pour on their bodies.

History of the Holi Festival

Holi Festival is an ancient Hindu festival that dates back to the 4 th century. The festival has been documented in archives dating back to the 4th and 7th century, and by the 17th century, it had already fascinated European traders.
Why the Use of Color?
According to Hindu Legend, King Kansa sent demoness Holika to kill the god Krishna using her poisonous milk while he was still a baby because he believed Kirshna would grow up and kill him instead. Instead of the poisonous milk killing the baby, he drank the milk and sucked all her blood, which caused the demoness to burst into flames. The baby survived but turned blue. As he grew up, he feared that his blue color would make the fair-skinned goddess Radha fail to fall in love with him. He applied color to Radha’s face so they would look the same, and still today it is still considered a way of expressing love to one another. There are at least eleven different colors which are used at the festival. All of the colors are corn starch based, are biodegradable, and do not pose any environmental problems.

Where Is it Celebrated?

The Holi Festival is primarily a Hindu festival, mainly celebrated in India and Nepal. Despite being a Hindu festival, it is celebrated by other religions including the Jains, Sikhs, and the Buddhist Newar people of Nepal. The day of the festival is considered a national holiday in India and a regional holiday in Nepal. In 2016, the Pakistani parliament passed a law that declared the Holi Festival among the Hindu and the Easter festival among Christians as national holidays. The Holi Festival is also celebrated by Hindus worldwide, although not recognized as holidays by respective governments.
When Is it Celebrated?
The Hindu calendar decides the date of the Holi Festival. In most cases, it is determined by the position of the moon,, but in other situations the sun is used. In 2017, the festival was held on March 13th, and the next festivals will probably be held on March 2, 2018 and March 21, 2019.

How Is it Celebrated?

Days before the festival is held, wood and other combustible materials for the bonfire are gathered. At the top of the pyre, an effigy that depicts the demoness Holika is placed. People stock up on foods, drinks, and other festive requirements. At sunset on the eve of the festival, the pyre is lit and demoness Holika is set on fire to signify the triumph of good over evil. People spend the night around the bonfire singing and dancing. In the morning people do not engage in the normal prayer, but instead they party and enjoy the morning. They form groups armed with dry powder and fill balloons with colored water. People smear each other with dry powder, they sing, dance, and play drums and other instruments for the rest of the day. In northern India, the festival can last up to a week. At the end of the day people clean their houses, wash up, and dress for the evening when they visit friends and exchange sweets and other presents.

By Victor Kiprop

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Biggest Cities In Vietnam

Vietnam's two "Special Class" cities, Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh City, are by far its largest.

Below, we take a look at the six most populous cities in Vietnam.

6. Da Nang

Da Nang is the sixth largest city in Vietnam, and the largest in central
Vietnam , with a population of around 1,007,700 people. Da Nang is a independent 1st class type municipality in Vietnam and not part of a province. It was founded in 192 AD under the kingdom of Champa. During the Vietnam War Da Nang was part of South Vietnam and was the location of a major air base used during the war. The city fell to the North Vietnamese on March 30th, 1975. The city is has a key location near the Hàn River estuary and is considered one of Vietnam's most important port cities. The cities is surrounded by mountains on its east side and the South China Sea on its west side. Da Nang only has eleven rural communities, which is the fewest of any province in the country and likewise has the highest urbanization ration in all of Vietnam. Da Nang is also the leading industrial center in all of central Vietnam, with a wide variety of industry located in and around the city. A important aspect of the cities tourism industry has to do with Da Nang's close proximity to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which makes the city a key hub for people wanting to visit these locations.

5. Bien Hoa

Bien Hoa is the fifth largest city in Vietnam with a population of around 1,104,495 people. Bien Hoa is a city in the province of Đồng Nai. Little is known in regard to the founding of Bien Hoa except that the area around it was part of a small, unknown kingdom that was annexed by the Chenla kingdom (550-802 AD). During the Vietnam War Bien Hoa was part of South Vietnam and the Bien Hoa Air Base just outside the city was a key asset during the war used by the United States. The city and the air base fell to the North Vietnamese in April of 1975. The city is located in the southern part of Vietnam, only around 20 miles (30 kilometers) away from the capital city. In recent years Bien Hoa has become a big industrial center in south Vietnam, with many warehouse and factories located in and around the city. The city is also home to the Bien Hoa Military Cemetery, which as fallen into disrepair in recent years and the Văn Miếu Trấn Biên, which is a Confucian temple that was fully restored in 2002.

4. Can Tho

Can Tho is the fourth largest city in Vietnam, and the largest in the country's southernmost Mekong Delta, with a population of around 1,238,300 people. As with Da Nang, Can Tho is one of only five independent municipalities in all of Vietnam and is a 1st class type. The city and its region were part of Cambodia until the late 18th Century, when Vietnam occupied the area and took control of it. The city was part of South Vietnam during the war and the Can Tho Base Camp was used by the United States and South Vietnamese forces. The city and the base fell to the North Vietnamese in April of 1975. The city is located on the left side of the Hau Giang River and is has a large inland port that is protected from the annual flooding that happens by dikes. Can Tho is home to the Can Tho bridge, which has been the longest cable-stayed bridge in all of south east Asia since it was completed in 2010. The city is central located in the "rice basket of Vietnam," the Mekong Delta and it famous for its so called floating gardens, where merchants set up their stands on the river.

3. Hai Phong

Hai Phong is the third largest city in Vietnam with a population of around 1,946,000 million people. Hai Phong is an independent municipality and is a 1st class type. Hai Phong was developed into a modernized city starting in 1874 by the French after they started colonizing Vietnam in the mid 1800s and became French Indochina. During the Vietnam War Hai Phong was part of North Vietnam and a major city since it was their only major seaport. The city was mostly unaffected during the war, besides the mining of the harbor to seal the city's port. Hai Phong is located along the coast of north east Vietnam, right on the mouth of the Cấm River. It is a by far the most important seaport in the Northern part of Vietnam. Hai Phong is a key city in Vietnam for industry, especially in the food processing, light industries and heavy industries sectors.

2. Ha Noi

Ha Noi is the second largest city in Vietnam with a population of close to 7,379,300 people. Ha Noi was the political center of Vietnam starting in 1010 AD when it was chosen as the capital of the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225 AD). It served as the capital of French Indochina from 1902-54, the capital of North Vietnam from 1954-76 and has been the current capital of the country since Vietnam reunified in 1976. Ha Noi is a independent municipality and is a special class type. During the Vietnam War, Hanoi suffered massive damage during bombing attacks by the United States, especially in 1965, 1968 and 1972. The northern and western part of the city are very mountainous, while the southern and eastern parts are part of the Red River delta area and are flat. According to recent rankings in the past few years, Ha Noi is one of, if not the fastest growing city on Earth it terms of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth. As a city that is over one thousand years old, Ha Noi has more cultural and historical sites that anywhere else in Vietnam. Besides being a main center for experiencing Vietnamese cultures, one can also see the unique imprint that the French left on the architecture and look of the city.

1. Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam with a population of around 8,244,400 people. As was the case with the city of Can Tho, Ho Chi Minh City was also under Cambodian control until it was annexed by Vietnam in the late 17th Century. Ho Chi Minh City was the capital of the French colony of Cochinchina (1862-1949) and then later the capital of South Vietnam (1955-75). Similar to Ha Noi, Ho Chin Minh City is also a independent municipality and is a special class type city. During the Vietnam war Ho Chi Minh City was known as Saigon. The Battle of Saigon in 1968 during the Tet Offensive was a key point in the war. In April of 1975 North Vietnam captured Saigon and in 1976 when the country was officially reunified, the city was renamed after Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh City has a coast with the South China Sea to its south and is a large city, covering around 0.63% of Vietnam's land. Over 90% of Ho Chi Minh City's population are Vietnamese, but the city is the location of the largest Chinese community in the country. The city is the economic powerhouse of Vietnam, accounting for close to 20% of the entire country's GDP, and 28% of its industrial output. The city is also the biggest tourist draw in the country, with estimates that 70% of tourist visit the city due to its mix of French colonial buildings, various historical structures, museums, restaurants and more.

The Biggest Cities In Vietnam

Rank Biggest Cities in Vietnam Population
1 Ho Chi Minh City 8,244,400
2 Ha Noi 7,379,300
3 Hai Phong 1,946,000
4 Can Tho 1,238,300
5 Bien Hoa 1,104,495
6 Da Nang 1,007,700
7 Vung Tau 450,000
8 NahTrang 392,279
9 Buon Ma Thuot 340,000
10 Hue 333,715

By Gregory Sousa

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Largest Ethnic Groups In Vietnam

The largest ethnic group in Vietnam are the Kinh, or the Viet, people.

Vietnam is a country in South East Asia with a population of approximately 89 million people, according to a 2013 World Bank report. The nation has over 50 ethnic groups living in the country and therefore it is one of the most diverse countries in the world. Vietnam was under Chinese rule for 1000 years and hence some aspects of Vietnamese culture such as Confucianism are borrowed from Chinese traditions. Vietnam people are deeply rooted in traditional religious beliefs. Ancestor worship is a common practice in the country. The ethnic divide is made up of one predominant group and many minority groups. Kinh makes up the largest ethnic group at 85% of the population. Other significant minority groups include Tay at 1.9%, Thai at 1.8%, Muong at 1.5%, and Khmer Krom at 1.5 % of the population.

Kinh

The Kinh people are the predominant Ethnic group in Vietnam, with 85% of the population in the country being Kinh. They are also known as Viet ethnic group. Kinhs speak Vietnamese, the official language in Vietnam. A popular myth says that Kinh people originated from the marriage between a dragon and a fairy heavenly angel. The couple had 100 children who multiplied to the current Kinh people. Kinhs practice ancestor worship alongside such East Asian religions as Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. A small group of Kinhs practice Christianity. They live in patriarchal families. The Kinh people have a wealth of proverbs, folk tales, songs and dances that help in the preservation of their traditions. The people practice wet rice cultivation on the fertile deltas and coastal plains. They also rear animals such as pigs, cattle, and chicken.

Tay

The Tay people make up close to 2% of Vietnam's population. They are the second largest ethnic group in the nation. They live on fertile plains where they cultivate rice and keep cattle and poultry as well. Rice is a staple food for the Tay people. The Tay community practice traditional religious beliefs including ancestor worship. They have rich folk songs and dance they perform during festivities and when they have visitors. Tay people use the lunar calendar.

Thai

Thai people account for approximately 1.8% of the Vietnamese population. They are the third largest ethnic group in the country. Thais originated from South East Asia where their ancestors still live to date. They cultivate rice, corn and other subsistence crops. Their staple food is rice. Thais celebrate the New Year’s festival using the lunar calendar.

Muong

The Muong people are an ethnic minority who live in the mountainous regions of Vietnam. The Muong constitute 1.5% of the total population in the country. They have close ties to the Kinh people. This ethnic group speaks Muong language which is close to Vietnamese. They live in a patriarchal social system where only males own property. Muong people practice agriculture where they cultivate rice, raise pigs, chicken, and cattle. Muong worships ancestors and other supernatural spirits.

Regional Distribution of Ethnic Groups

The predominant ethnic group in Vietnam is the Kinh people who mainly occupy deltas and coastal plains. Ethnic minorities occupy the highland regions of Vietnam. Kinhs exert influence on the nation’s minority groups. The minorities feel discriminated against by the government. Despite these differences, the country has remained united. There are other minority ethnic groups in Vietnam which include the Hmong (1.3%), Nung (1.2%), Chinese or Hao (1%), and Dao (0.9%), while other groups collectively constitute 3% of the population.

Largest Ethnic Groups In Vietnam

Rank Ethnic Group Share of Vietnamese Population
1 Kinh (Viet) 85.7%
2 Tay 2.0%
3 Thai 1.9%
4 Muong 1.5%
5 Khmer Krom 1.5%
6 Hmong 1.3%
7 Nung 1.2%
8 Chinese (Hoa) 1.0%
9 Dao 0.9%
Others 3.0% combined

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Religious Beliefs In Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is predominately Muslim, with Sunni Islam being the most widely practiced system. Shia Islam and Eastern Orthodox Christianity also have significant followings.

Uzbekistan is located in Central Asia and has a population of 31.5 million. The country was once part of the Russian Empire and later, part of the Soviet Union. It became an independent nation in 1991. The majority of the population is of Uzbek descent, around 80%. Although, the country is home to significant communities of other ethnicities as well. Among these individuals are several religious beliefs. This article takes a look at the most widely practiced religions in Uzbekistan.

Religious Beliefs in Uzbekistan

Islam

Islam is the most widely practiced religion within Uzbekistan, a faith followed by 92.2% of the country's population. This religion has a long history in the country that began in the 8th Century. Arabs began advancing on Central Asia around this time, establishing the Samanid Dynasty and bringing with them the Islam religion. It first took hold in the southern regions of Central Asia before moving north to the communities of the ancestors of today’s Uzbeks. Its spread was further encouraged by Uzbeg, the ruler of the Golden Horde, who supported the work of Muslim missionaries. The religion influenced architecture and scholarly works throughout the region as well.
During the Soviet era, many mosques were closed and numerous Muslims were deported. Mosques that were not shut down were forced to register with the Soviet government. The government also established the Muslim Board of Central Asia which controlled the practice of the religion. After independence, the number of individuals identifying as Muslim began to grow. However, actual observation of and participation in Islam was not widespread. Today, many denominations are practiced with Sunnite being the most popular, followed by Shia.

Eastern Orthodox Christianity

The second most widespread religion is Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This is practiced by 5.9% f the population, largely by the ethnic Russian community. Christianity was once wiped out in the region by Tamerlane, the first ruler of the Timurid Dynasty. After Russia gained control in the mid-1800’s, the religion was reintroduced and Orthodox churches were built.

Other Beliefs

Minority beliefs, such as Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and others, are collectively practiced by approximately 1.9% of the population. Roman Catholicism is practiced mainly by the ethnic Polish community. Judaism is practiced by the Bukharan Jew population, many of whom left the country after independence. Zoroastrianism is an indigenous religion practiced long before the introduction of Islam. Estimates suggest it has approximately 7,400 followers in Uzbekistan today.

Freedom of Religion

Freedom of religion is protected by the Constitution of Uzbekistan. The government, however, does not uphold this right in practice, and has made even efforts to restrict certain religious practices. The law prohibits proselytizing, printing and disbursing religious works, and establishing private religious schools. In general, the Muslim-dominated society accepts the previously mentioned religions, but not tolerate attempts to convert Uzbeks. The government has also established a registration requirement for religious denominations. If not registered, the religion cannot legally be practiced. This regulation is used to restrict some religions from being practiced, particularly smaller Christian sects such as Pentecostals. There have been reports of religious persecution including raids, arrests, and sentencing of practitioners of certain unauthorized religions. In one case, a church leader was sentenced to 4 years in a labor camp. This has also occurred within unrecognized Islamic groups that the government believes are involved in extremist activities. Some people have reported violence within communities as well, particularly against Christians and recent Christian converts.

Religious Beliefs In Uzbekistan

Rank Belief System Share of Population of Uzbekistan
1 Islam 92.2%
2 Eastern Orthodox Christianity 5.9%
3 Roman Catholicism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, and Other Beliefs 1.9%

By Amber Pariona

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Friday, 8 March 2019

Biggest Cities In Uzbekistan

Tashkent is Uzbekistan's capital and largest city, housing almost 5 times as many residents as second place Samarkand.

Biggest Cities In Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a country in Central Asia and borders Kazakhstan, Tajikistan ,
Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Due to its old location on the Silk Road, Uzbekistan is home to cities which have both modern and medieval economic and cultural significance. Tashkent is Uzbekistan's capital and largest city, housing almost five times as many residents as second place Samarkand. According to 2015 figures, about 36.4% of total population lives in the urban areas.

Tashkent

The capital city of Tashkent boasts a population of 2,309,600. Excavations have pointed to fortifications dating to as early as the 1st century in the city. The city thrived as a vital trade center on the caravan routes headed to Europe and East Asia. The city was ruled by different dynasties such as the Arabs, Mongols, Timurids, and shaybanids until it was occupied by the Russians in 1865. The city continued to prosper and rapidly industrialized in the 1920s and 1930s under Soviet rule. Migration of Russians and Ukrainians during the WWII dramatically changed the demographics of Tashkent. Tashkent today is a multi-ethnic city, with Uzbeks being the majority ethnic group.

The city is the chief economic, transportation, and cultural center in Central Asia. Modern buildings rise next to monuments and structures from the Soviet era and the Timurid dynasty. Agricultural produce cultivated in the city include cotton, rice, wheat, melons and vegetables. Although an earthquake destroyed the city in 1966, educational institutions, museums, parks, and theaters were re-built in the city to make Tashkent an educational and cultural center in Asia.
Tashkent is a modern metropolis, complete with green spaces and a vibrant nightlife. Ancient mosques, mausoleums, and museums are some of the sights in Tashkent. The government of Tashkent established a permit system in a bid to curb rural to urban migration. Tashkent, unlike most of other Asian countries, has been spared of the proliferation of slum settlements.

Samarkand

Samarkand is the second largest city in Uzbekistan with a population of 504,423. Samarkand emerged as an important trade center due to its location on the ancient Silk Road. The medieval city was ruled by various dynasties such as the Arabs, Iran , and the Samanids. The city achieved great prosperity when it became the capital of the Timurid Empire. After a long period of decline, Samarkand was economically revived under Russian rule. Samarkand is largely an old city characterized by ancient mosques, madrassas, and mausoleums. Samarkand is a major cultural center in Asia, and it is listed as a UNESCO cultural world heritage site. Modern Samarkand is a major producer of silk, cotton, and wine. Industries such as agricultural processing, textiles, and metals are major players in Samarkand's economy. The largest ethnic group in the city is Tajiks, followed by a growing number of Uzbeks. Islam in the biggest religion in the city and Christianity is mainly practiced by immigrants such as Armenians and Russians.

Namangan

In eastern Uzbekistan is Namangan city with a population of 475,700. The city began as a settlement in the 15th century which became part of the Khanate state of Kokand in the 18th century. Namangan was a bustling Islamic center before Russian occupation, complete with numerous mosques and madrassas. It was also a vital trade center, and its economy surged with the establishment of factories in the city during WWII. Economic activities in the modern city include cotton production and processing and vegetables and fruits production. The city is characterized by green spaces and parks while the ruins of the medieval city of Aksikent are an important cultural site in the city. The city's population is mainly Tajiks and Uzbeks.

Andijan

Andijan city is the capital city of the Andijan region and has a population of 333,400. Medieval Andijan was one of the most prosperous cities of Fergana Valley, being strategically located on the Silk Road. The city mainly thrived in regards to arts and culture under the Timurid Empire. By the time Andijan came under Russian rule, it was a major producer of silk and cotton fabrics. Much of the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 1902. Andijan was rebuilt in the Soviet era to become a major industrial center in Uzbekistan. Modern Andijan has an automobile production plant alongside textile, chemical, food processing, electronics, machines, and cotton mill factories. The city is mainly renowned as the birthplace of Babur, who established the Mughal Empire in India. Uzbeks and Tajiks are the majority ethnic groups in the area. The city's numerous holy places are major sights in the region.

Other big cities in Uzbekistan in regards to population are Bukhara (328,400), Nukus (230,006), Qarshi (222,898), Ferghana (187,100), Jizzakh (152,642), and Navoiy (125,800). In line with Uzbekistan's impressive economic growth in the recent years, the country's cities are emerging as modern metropolises in Asia. Economic growth translates to a growing population and Uzbekistan's cities are projected to experience an increase in their individual populations.

Rank Biggest Cities in Uzbekistan Population
1 Tashkent 2,309,600
2 Samarkand 504,423
3 Namangan 475,700
4 Andijan 333,400
5 Bukhara 328,400
6 Nukus 230,006
7 Qarshi 222,898
8 Ferghana 187,100
9 Jizzakh 152,642
10 Navoiy 125,800

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

Ethnic Groups In Uzbekistan

Uzbeks comprise around three-fourths of the total population, while Russians are Tajiks are the largest minorities.

Uzbekistan is the most populous country in the Central Asia with a population of 31.6 million people. Half of the population of the Central Asia lives in Uzbekistan. The high population in the country is attributed to the high fertility, especially during the Soviet Union and the period of disintegration. Cultural preferences which favored large families and reliance on agriculture also contributed to the rapimnd population growth. The country has a relatively young population with 34.1% of the people being younger than 15 years old.
Uzbekistan is an ethnic diverse country comprising of several ethnic groups including the following;

Ethnic Groups Of Uzbekistan

Uzbeks

Uzbeks are the largest Turkic group in Uzbekistan and the entire of Central Asia. They form an ethnic majority in Uzbekistan accounting for 75.5% of the country’s population and the minority group in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan,
Russia, and China. The modern Uzbek language has been derived from the Chagatai Language which was prominent in the Timurid Empire. After the fall of the empire, the Shaybanid Uzbek Khaqanate played a critical role in strengthening the Turkic language and the modern identity of the Uzbeks. The Uzbeks speak the Turkic language of the Karluk group with the modern language included in most of the Uzbekistan’s scripts. The ethnic group is predominantly Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi School with variations between the northern and the southern Uzbeks. The clothing of the Uzbeks includes the Chapan and Kaftan with the men wearing a headgear known as Tubeteika while the women put on a veil known as Paranja.

Russians

Russians are East Slavic ethnic group who ae native to the Eastern Europe. The majority of the Russians are found in the state of Russia with a notable minority in other Soviet Union States,
Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. The modern Russian was formed from several tribes including the Slavs, Ilmen, and Radimichs. The world’s Russian population currently stands at 130 million with 5.7% of the Uzbekistan population belonging to this ethnic group. The culture of the Russians is diverse and unique with a rich history in art, music, architecture, and painting. Most of the Russians identify with Orthodox as the main religion. The religion has played a vital role in the development of their identity. The Orthodox Church in Uzbekistan has a direct connection with the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is also dominated by the Russians in Ukraine.

Tajiks

Tajik is a designation for a wide range of Persian-speaking groups of the Iranian origin with their current homeland in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan , and Afghanistan. Tajiks are the ethnic majority in the ancient cities of Bhukhara and Samarland in Uzbekistan. They are also scattered throughout the country and accounts for 5% of the total population. However, the figure does not include the number of Tajiks who have chosen to identity with Uzbeks for varied reasons. Some officials believe that Tajiks could make up 35% of the population if the government were strict when taking census. The modern Tajik identify with the Sunni Islam as the main religion despite the ancient group being Buddhists and Zoroastrians.
Other Ethnic Groups In Uzbekistan
Some of the ethnic minority in the country includes the Kazakhs, Karakalpak, Tatar, Koreans, and Kyrgyz. The influence of these ethnic minority groups is confined to the towns and cities where they dominate. Uzbek language, which is spoken widely by the Uzbeks, is the country’s official language.

Ethnic Groups In Uzbekistan

Rank Ethnic Group Estimated Share of Population of Uzbekistan
1 Uzbek 75.5%
2 Russian 5.7%
3 Tajik 5.0%
4 Kazakh 3.5%
5 Karakalpak 2.3%
6 Tatar 2.2%
7 Khowar, Kho, or Chitrali 2.0%
Other Groups 3.8%

By John Misachi

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

The Culture Of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan has a rich literary, and art and craft heritage.

The Central Asian nation of Uzbekistan is a doubly landlocked country with a population of around 30,023,709 individuals. 80% of the population of Uzbekistan comprises of ethnic Uzbeks. Other ethnic groups living in the country include Russians, Tajiks, Kazakhs, and Karakalpaks. Islam is the largest religion in Uzbekistan with 88% of the population adhering to it. Most of the country’s Muslims are Sunnis. Christians affiliated to the Eastern Orthodox Church comprise 9% of the total population. Here are some notable aspects about the culture of Uzbekistan.

7. Cuisine In Uzbekistan

Local agriculture influences the cuisine of Uzbekistan. Bread and noodles are an important part of the diet as grains are produced in large quantities in the country. Mutton is also frequently consumed. Palov, a dish comprising of rice, meat pieces, grated onions, and carrots, is a signature dish of Uzbekistan. Shurpa (a soup of meat pieces and vegetables), somsa (a meat pastry), chuchvara (a kind of dumpling), kebabs, etc., are some of the popular food items of Uzbekistan. Tea, both green and black, is consumed throughout the country (usually without sugar and milk). A chilled yogurt drink called Aryan is popular during the summer.

6. Literature

Uzbekistan has a rich literary heritage. Some of its most famous writers of the past include the poet Alisher Navoi whose work comparing the Turkish and Persian language, is highly praised. The 11th-century Uzbek writer Abu Rayhan al-Biruni is famous for his study of India. Babur, the first Mughal ruler of India who came from the Ferghana Valley, wrote an autobiography that is regarded as one of the finest literary works. The country also has a rich oral literary tradition where elderly minstrels recite historical events and mythological stories through epic songs.

5. Uzbek Art And Craft

Like literature, the country also has a long history of art and craft. During the Soviet rule, the same suffered competition from the factory-produced goods. With the increase in tourism in recent decades, however, the country's artists and artisans are once more thriving. Miniature paintings, wood carvings of architectural features, sonduq, silk textiles, etc., are some of the popular traditional crafts from Uzbekistan.

4. Performance Arts In Uzbekistan

Uzbek music involves instruments like dotars, flutes, small drums, and tambourines. The singing style is nasal and throaty. Uzbeki women sing Sozandas that are accompanied by percussion instruments. Today, the music scene in the country is also influenced by foreign cultures. Uzbek dance music is produced by a fusion of electric instrumental music and folk music. The Sufi dance called zikr that involves moving in circles to enter a trance state, is also practiced today. Folk songs and dances are performed during festivals and weddings and also to entertain foreign tourists.

3. Sports In Uzbekistan

Over the years, Uzbekistan has produced many sports personalities of international fame. Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, a former racing cyclist, who has thrice won the Tour de France points contest, is an Uzbek. Artur Taymazov, a wrestler from the country has won two Olympic gold medals in 2004 and 2008. Kurash, a traditional Uzbek fighting art, has gained popularity globally. Football is the most popular sports in the country.

2. Festivals In Uzbekistan

Uzbeks celebrate New Year on January 1 with by decorating a new year tree and gifting each other. People listen to traditional music as they dine with family and friends on New Year’s Eve and sing the national anthem to welcome the new year at midnight. Women’s Day, introduced during the Soviet rule, is celebrated on March 8. Women receive gifts on this day. Other secular celebrations include the Independence Day on September 1 and Victory Day on May 9. With the majority of Uzbeks being Muslims, festivals associated with the religion are observed in the country. The Zoroastrian holiday of Navrus is also observed by drinking the Sumaliak soup. During holidays, Uzbeks prefer visiting friends and family. They usually enjoy feasts and drink vodka. Concerts and parades are also held in the town squares or villages.

1. Life In The Uzbek Society

Prior to the Soviet rule in Uzbekistan, the gender roles were strictly defined in the traditional Uzbek society. Men were expected to work outside the home while women were assigned the role of managing the household and children. Women did, however, often supplement the income by weaving, spinning or embroidering. Things changed during the Soviet period when both men and women enjoyed the right to education and work. Large numbers of Uzbek women entered the workforce during this time. They also attained higher education and became doctors, nurses, teachers, etc.

In today’s Uzbekistan, society is male-dominated but women still constitute a significant part of the workforce. The number of women is, however, low in politics and in the higher management and administrative positions. The society is more conservative in the Ferghana Valley where full veiling of women is occasionally practiced.
Early marriages are common in Uzbekistan and marriages are usually arranged by parents, especially in rural areas. Marriages are extended multi-day celebrations with the bride’s family usually bearing the expenses of the celebrations.

Domestic units in Uzbekistan are usually large with several generations living under the same roof. Nuclear families are more common in urban areas. Families are mostly patriarchal with the eldest male member having the final say in most matters. The youngest son usually inherits the parental house and is obliged to care for the elderly parents in return.
Children are usually the primary responsibility of the mother while other women in the family also help bring up the child. Babies are usually hidden from public view for about 40 days after birth.

Elders are highly revered in the Uzbek culture. Younger people are expected to greet their elders politely. Greetings between men are in the form of a handshake with the left hand placed over the heart. Women greet either by kissing each other on the cheeks for close family members or friends. Women are expected to wear modest clothes covering their body. They are expected to speak in low voices and be gentle and dignified in their attitude.

By Oishimaya Sen Nag

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Monday, 4 March 2019

Biggest Cities In Turkmenistan

Ashgabat in the country's arid foothills is the national capital and by far the most populous city of Turkmenistan.

Ashgabat in the arid foothills is the national capital and by far the most populous city of Turkmenistan. The Asian country of Turkmenistan has an estimated population of 5.4 million and a high birth rate. The eastern, southern, and northeastern regions are the most densely populated parts of the country. The major ethnicities in the country are Turkmen, Uzbeks, and Russians.

Biggest Cities In Turkmenistan

Ashgabat

Ashgabat city has 879,846 residents and a population density of 2,300 people per km2. The modern city of Ashgabat was established on the Kopet Dag foothills in 1881. The city began as a Russian military fort, and it was strategically located on the Transcaspian Railway and the caravan routes. The city was briefly named Poltoratsk from 1919 to 1927, and it was the capital of Turkmenistan under the Soviet Union until 1991. The city’s population is majorly Turkmen with small communities of Russians, Uzbeks, Azeris, and Armenians. The main religion is Sunni Islam of the Hanafi School. Ashgabat is the country’s political and administrative center. Industries in the city range from textiles, metallurgy, carpet-weaving, to glassworks. In the recent times, Ashgabat has been rapidly urbanizing and attracting an increasing population, mostly from the rural areas. The city’s most famous sights include the National Museum of History, Monument of Neutrality, Lenin Square, Presidential Palace, and the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque.

Türkmenabat

The city of Türkmenabat serves as the capital of Lebap Province, and it is home to 243,909 residents. The ancient city, referred to as Amul, was an important region on the Great Silk Road. The contemporary city began as a settlement for Cossack Russians in 1886. The city is conveniently situated at the junction of the Transcaspian Railway. Türkmenabat was known as Chardjuy under the Soviet Union, during the period it was the country’s transport and industrial center. Industries in modern day Turkmenistan are silk mills, superphosphates manufacturing, food processing, and cotton-ginning. The city’s demographics is majorly Turkmens and Uzbeks, and a unique dialect has developed from the integration of the two languages. Türkmenabat sits on the Amu-Darya River’s banks, and it is near the historic Amul’s Settlement and the Repetek Nature Reserve.

Daşoguz

Daşoguz City, located in northern Turkmenistan, has a population of 188,250. The ancient city was a resting point for the caravans on the Great Silk Road on the outskirts of the Khiva Khanate. The city was named Tashauz after the Khiva Khanate came under Russian control. Most of the city’s buildings were built during the Soviet era, including a Russian fort. Daşoguz is a multi-ethnic city, being home to Turkmens, Uzbeks, Tatars, Koreans, Russians, and Kazakhs. The city boasts sports, educational, and cultural amenities, as well as industries. The ancient city of Kunya-Urgench, complete with mausoleums, minarets, and madrasas is located near Daşoguz.

Mary

The city of Mary lies in the oasis of the Kara Kum Desert, and it is inhabited by 118,840 people. The ancient city was called Merv, and it served as a watering place on the Great Silk Road. The modern city began as an administrative center for Russian rule from 1884. The city became a large cotton producer under Russian occupation, facilitated by extensive irrigation. Natural gas is also a lucrative resource for the city. The city has been experiencing massive construction of urban housing as well as public buildings. The city is home to the History Museum and the ruins of the ancient city of Merv.

Other Cities In Turkmenistan

The rest of Turkmenistan’s cities and their respective populations are Balkanabat (104,311); Baýramaly (82,142); Türkmenbaşy (70,646); Tejen (59,647); Abadan (44,741), and Magdanly (34,745). Turkmenistan’s cities have witnessed rural-urban migration, a trend which is projected to continue. The major challenge for these cities remains sustainability due to increasing populations.

Biggest Cities In Turkmenistan

Rank Biggest Cities in Turkmenistan Population
1 Ashgabat 879,846
2 Türkmenabat 243,909
3 Daşoguz 188,250
4 Mary 118,840
5 Balkanabat 104,311
6 Baýramaly 82,142
7 Türkmenbaşy 70,646
8 Tejen 59,647
9 Abadan 44,741
10 Magdanly 34,745

By Benjamin Elisha Sawe

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Sunday, 3 March 2019

What Languages Are Spoken In Turkmenistan?

Turkmen is the official language of Turkmenistan.

Turkmenistan is a Central Asian country bordering Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. Formally known as Turkmenia, it has been at the center of civilization dating back to the medieval period. Turkmenistan attained independence in 1991 at the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Turkmenistan is an ethnically diverse country with several ethnic groups inhabiting the different towns, cities, and villages. Ethnic Turkmen is the largest ethnic group in the country accounting for about 85% of the population. Other ethnic groups include Uzbeks, Russians, Tatars, Kurds, and Armenians. Because of the ethnic diversity, different languages are spoken in Turkmenistan. These languages include;

Turkmen: The Official Language Of Turkmenistan

Turkmen is the official language in the Turkmenistan according to the country’s constitution. It is spoken by over 3 million people in Turkmenistan or 72% of the population. Turkmen, just like the Turkic language spoken by the Oghuz people, belong to the family of Altaic languages. It was adopted as Turkmenistan’s official language in 1991 with the new constitution at the time of independence. Originally written in Arabic character, the Turkmen adopted the Russian Cyrillic alphabet during the Soviet period. The written Turkmen language was further modified in 1996 with the adoption of the Latin alphabet in the version that was already utilized for Turkic. Turkmen is mandatory in government institutions and schools. Most of the government documents are published in the Turkmen language.

Russian: The Second Most Spoken Language In Turkmenistan

Russian is the second most popular language spoken in Turkmenistan, especially in cities and towns. There are over 250,000 ethnic Russians in Turkmenistan with the majority inhabiting the northern part of the country. The Russian language is spoken by about 12% of the population. Ashgabat, the capital city of Turkmenistan, has the highest number of Russian speakers. Russian is also spoken widely in other major cities and towns across the country. The popularity of the Russian language has continued to drop over the years. The drop is attributed to the efforts by the authorities to eliminate the Russian language from public use. Russian-language schools have been shut down. However, despite the efforts by the authorities, Russian remains an alternative or a second language for most of the Turkmens.

Minority Languages Spoken In Turkmenistan

Uzbek

Although Uzbek is the official language of Uzbekistan, it is also widely spoken in Turkmenistan. Approximately 5% of the Turkmenistan’s population is Uzbeks making the Uzbek language popular in most of the cities and rural areas. There are about 300,000 people in Turkmenistan who speak Uzbek either as their first or second language. Unlike Russian and Turkmen, the Uzbek language is not taught in any of the schools in Turkmenistan. Uzbek is a Turkic language with a degree of influence by the Persian, Russian, and Arabic. Although the Uzbek language has several dialects, there is a commonly understood dialect popularly used in mass media and printed material. Some of the common Uzbek dialects spoken in Turkmenistan include Tashkent, Afghan, and Ferghana.

Other Minority Languages

The other languages spoken in Turkmenistan account for about 7% of the total population and include Kazakh, Tatar, Ukrainian, and Azerbaijani among other languages. The minority languages are spoken mainly as a second language while the native speakers have made an effort of learning the Turkmen language which is the country’s official language. Most of the speakers of these minority languages are immigrants from the neighboring countries where these languages are considered official language.

By John Misachi

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

The Culture Of Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan's culture is influenced by the nomadic lifestyle of the citizens of the nation.

Turkmenistan is a country located in Central Asia, formerly known as Turkmenia. The capital city is Ashgabat, and even though the official language in the state is Turkmen, Russian is spoken by a majority of the population living in the urban areas. The state has a total area of about 189,660 square miles, and the population was estimated at 5,662,544 in 2016. In 1995, Turkmenistan was declared a neutral state. The Turkmen people have been nomads and horsemen since ancient times.

Before the 1930s, the Turkmen grouped themselves into clans that wore different types of clothing and had different dialects. After the 1930s, Joseph Stalin tried to bring the clans together to form a nation. The Turkmen are famed for their Turkmen rugs, which are colorful handmade rugs, used historically by the people to distinguish the different clans. Carpet weaving is one of the major sectors in the Turkmen economy, and it is also a part of their culture. There is a vertical strip on the hoist side of Turkmenistan's flag which bears five patterns that have historically been used in Turkmen carpets. Traditionally, Turkmen men wore white shirts with a red robe and a black sheepskin hat while the women wore trousers paired with a long sack-dress and adorned themselves with silver jewelry.

Religion In Turkmenistan

93% of Turkmenistan's population is Muslim with a higher percentage being Sunni Muslim. Sunni Islam is the largest denomination globally. When Turkmenistan was part of the Soviet Union, religious schooling and practices were banned in the region, and several mosques were closed down. After independence in 1991, Islam was re-introduced in the state and went back to become the dominant religion in the country although most of the Turkmen do not strictly adhere to Islam.

Many Turkmen people believe in ancient spirituality, and this has made them adhere to several of their old beliefs. Islamic culture is currently taught in schools, and the government is playing a significant role in promoting Islam in the state. Christians in the country represent about 5% of the population and they are part of the Eastern Orthodox denomination. The other Christian denominations include the Roman Catholic Church, Armenian Apostolic Church, Protestant Word of Life Church, New Apostolic Church, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Pentecostal Christianity.

Turkmen Cuisine

Being in Central Asia, the cuisine in Turkmenistan is similar to that of their neighboring countries. Pilaf is considered the primary food and it is made up of fried rice, carrots and mutton. The food in the state is not cooked with a lot of spices though cottonseed oil is used in plenty to give the food flavor. Shurpa is a soup made from meat and vegetables, while manti and somsa are fried dumplings made with various fillings ranging from pumpkin to ground meat. The fried dumplings are famous among travelers as they can be eaten on the go. Russian delicacies are served in some of the local restaurants. Turkmenistan is a large producer of melons with around 400 varieties of melons. Watermelon is one of the fruits consumed locally. Meals are served with Corek, which is the local flatbread. Bread has a symbolic significance in the state because it is considered rude to turn a loaf of bread upside down or mishandle bread. Green tea is the primary beverage in Turkmenistan, and it can be taken at any time - it is called chai in Turkmen. Another famous drink in the region is Chal, which is fermented camel milk. Vodka is the most consumed liquor and is priced affordably.

Turkmen Jewellery And Music

Some Turkmen people wear jewelry for both spiritual and cosmetic purposes. Traditionally, the amount of jewelry worn by an individual has been symbolic of the individual's status in society. The Turkmen jewelers traded with and learned from the people they met because they were nomads, especially people from the Middle East. Most Turkmen jewelry was made using silver adorned with precious stones. The Turkmen people believed that precious stones have health benefits and that jewels have magical powers. The gems were thought to have different effects on the wearers. Turquoise was worn as a sign of purity while silver and carnelians were worn to prevent death and disease. Jewels were mostly worn as a sign of status in the region, and younger women tended to wear more jewelry, which was believed to increase fertility.

The jewelry industry is still vibrant today, and due to the high cost of the precious stones, some jewelers use glass beads as a substitute. The country has a music tradition of traveling singers, named bakshy, who act as magicians and healers and they either sing acapella or sing with instruments. The dutar, a double stringed lute with a long neck, is an instrument played along with the Turkmen folk music and is one of the local instruments in the region.

Turkmenistan Today

Human Rights Watch named Turkmenistan as one of the most oppressive countries in modern times. The state has strict restrictions on its citizens who plan to travel outside the state, and the ethnic minority groups are discriminated. Universities in the country reject students of non-Turkmen origin and the Uzbeck, and Baloch ethnic minorities have been barred from teaching their language and customs. Even though the constitution covers press and religious freedom, the two are not practiced in the state and faith-based minority groups face discrimination. The Turkmen people, though living in the modern times, are still far etched in their old traditions and culture. The country thus has a distinct culture of its own.

By Joseph Kiprop

•culled from www.worldatlas.com

Friday, 1 March 2019

Tibetan Culture

People

The people of Tibet are strong, and adaptable due to the harsh environment in which they live, but they are also extremely warm and hospitable. They are always quick to invite a visitor to Tibet into their home and serve them homemade food, and the famous Tibetan butter tea.

Etiquette

Tibet is an ancient place with many unique customs and traditions. Because of this there are many unique etiquettes and taboos that should be paid attention to by visitors. When entering a temple building, visitors should always remove their hats. Smoking and the consumption of alcohol is also taboo. Do not take photographs inside a temple building without permission. Do not worry about committing a faux-pax because there are usually people around who will stop you from doing something wrong. Most Tibetans understand that visitors may not fully understand their traditions and are quite forgiving.

Food

Food, just like Tibetan culture and people has a very distinct character. Tibetan food is not only sustenance, but also helps Tibetan people survive the harsh climates. Their food keeps them warm, gives them energy, helps them with the high altitude, and gives them nutrient essentials to the harsh climate. Due to the high altitude of Tibet, water boils at 90 degrees making cooking with water impossible, so Tibetan food has become very specialized. The Tibetan diet consists mostly of meat, milks and other high protein foods.

Tsampa: is a staple found at every Tibetan meal. It is a dough made with roasted barley flour and yak butter. There are two basic ways to prepare and eat Tsampa. One is to make dough with Tibetan buttered tea. The other is to make porridge with beef or mutton, and vegetables. The Tsampa dough served with buttered tea is salty, while the porridge is often served with sugar.
Buttered tea: is another staple of Tibetan cuisine. Tibetans drink butter tea because it warms them up. The buttered tea is quite salty. Some people think it tastes more like soup broth than tea.

Beef and Mutton: Tibetans live on beef, mutton and milk products. Beef and mutton contain high heat energy which is helpful in fighting the cold. Many Tibetans often eat raw meats.
Tibetan noodles: are usually served in a simple vegetable or meat broth.
Momos: are the favorite foods of most visitors to Tibet. They are dumplings made with either meat or vegetables.

Tibetan Dances:

Nearly Every Tibetan can sing and dance. Dancing is an integral part of every Tibetan's life . Tibetan people sing and dance for nearly every event: weddings, funerals, gatherings, and just for fun. There are many different styles of dance. Each area of Tibet has its own distinct style.

The Guoxie (village) dance is a group dance popular in rural Tibet. This dance is usually performed on open ground from sunrise to sunset. It consists of men and women dancing together in a circle.

Guozhuang (singing and dancing) dance is popular in eastern Tibet. It consists of two parts, singing, and dancing. It is an agile and vigorous dance. Men and women stand in two separate circles and sing in rotation while swaying and stamping their feet. The tempo in the beginning is slow and as the song progresses the tempo speeds up. They performers conclude their singing by shouting "Ya!"
Xie (dance) dance is accompanied by a stringed instrument. At festivals and outings men and women dance the Xie face to face in two lines. They are usually directed by one person at the head of their formation who plays a stringed instrument. The participants sing to each other to express their feelings. This dance is graceful and natural characterized by slow steps.
Qamo (sorcerer's) dance is a religious dance. It came to Tibet along with the introduction of Buddhism. It is used to subdue evil spirits in monasteries. Originally the Qamo dance was a mime dance where participants wore ceremonial masks. A traditional livestock sacrificing ceremony was held. Since the killing of livestock goes against Buddhist doctrine, livestock are no longer killed. Drawings are now substituted. At the end of the dance the performers take an effigy of Duoma (the leading demon), made of butter and tsampa into the wilderness to burn it, which will drive away evil and bring good fortune in the coming year.

Clothing:

Tibetan clothing has a strong connection with the people, and climate of "Roof of the world". The Tibetan's clothing reflects the history, beliefs, and character of the local people.
Each area of Tibet has its own distinct style of clothing. The clothes are influenced by the religion, and environment. Tibetan clothing consists of a robe and shirt. The Tibetan robe worn by men is broad and is normally fastened under the right arm, while the women's are slightly narrower with or without sleeves. The robes often fastened with two cloth belts. The shirts are also fastened on the right. Men typically wear white shirts with high collars, while women wear various colors with turndown collars.

In northern Tibet, were the weather is bitterly cold, herdsmen wear a fur lined robe years round. Their robe also doubles as their quilt at night. Since the day and night temperatures vary greatly, during the day they usually do not put their arms in their sleeves, but rather tie the sleeves around their waste wearing their robe as a kind of skirt. Their fur lined robes are very bulky and have no pockets, but being fastened at the waist it gives the wearer plenty of room inside for to carry daily necessities, or even their children inside.

In pastoral areas the clothing worn by herdsmen are distinctive for their decorations. Their clothing is usually hemmed in black cloth at the front and lower edges and cuffs. Women wear aprons decorated with colorful cloth stripes.

In the south of Tibet where the weather is warm and damp, the clothing is made from hand woven woolen cloth. Both men and women button their clothing on the right. Men's clothing are hemmed in colorful cloth, or with silk, while women normally wearing sleeveless robes.

In Lhasa, where the weather is warmer and damper many men wear double layered robes, and women dress in close-fitting robes and long sleeved shirts, with brightly decorated aprons. The apron is one of Tibetan women's favorite clothing articles. According to custom the aprons are only worn by married women. It is a privilege that young girls look forward to.

•culled from www.chinaodysseytours.com
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