With a history that stretches back centuries, Tibet, nestled in the Himalayas at an elevation of over 12,000 feet, has a unique character and outlook. As a solitary, peaceful country, it set an example for other countries to follow in terms of how to treat their citizens and neighbors. This unique outlook is what prompted westerners to name the place, Shangri-la, meaning "a remote, beautiful, imaginary place where life approaches perfection."
However, this Shangri-la has been far from an idyllic locale for more than seven decades. The region was illegally occupied, in 1950, by its neighbor, the People's Republic of China, in what Beijing prefers to term a "peaceful liberation." Since then, the Tibetans have been an oppressed people struggling to preserve their language, culture, religion, and ways of life.