Nepalis in Tibet
To the countries adjacent to it, including Nepal to the south, Tibet has never been the closed and mysterious land it has characteristically been for more distant peoples, particularly Westerners. In fact, the entire social, cultural, and economic history of Tibet is inextricably bound up with that of its neighbours. Until the beginning of the nineteenth century, Nepal shared greater cultural affinity with, and had greater economic interest in Tibet than India. There were more Nepalis in Tibet than anywhere else outside Nepal; and there were more people of Tibetan than Indian origin in Nepal. Prior to the nineteenth century, stronger ethnic and linguistic connections existed between Nepal and Central Asia than between Nepal and South Asia.
When discussing the presence of Nepalis in Tibet, this must be done with this historical background in mind. The first two sections of this paper, therefore, will attempt to set the historical stage for the concluding discussion on Nepalis in the Tibet Autonomous Region of the People's Democratic Republic of China today. The author will try to redress the imbalance brought about by so many one-sided views of Tibet as portrayed in the Western press as well as among misinformed Nepalis themselves.