An empire of calm
A jewel in the Himalayas (and a thorn in the side of China's rulers), Tibet is massive, exotic, and culturally under siege. Source of no lesser rivers than the Yangtze, Yellow, Mekong, Indus, and Ganges – to name but a few – and surrounded by the jagged peaks of the highest mountains in the world, Tibet's landscape makes you weak in the knees. In the shadow of Everest, the Tibetan people have developed a gentle, mysterious culture, and visitors will discover a country lined with stupas and adorned with fluttering prayer flags. The influence of Tibetan Buddhism can be seen everywhere, from old citizens spinning prayer wheels to 1,300 year-old Lhasa and its otherworldly Potala Palace, home to Dalai Lamas past. The capital's name means, literally, "Holy Land," and it certainly is.