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The advantages and disadvantages of the high plateau known as Tibet are identical. The place is extremely hard to reach, hemmed in on the south by the Himalayas and on the north by the almost equally high Kunlun mountains. The terrain is inhospitable, the plateau itself being about 15,000 feet above sea level. The climate is harsh, with violent swings of temperature between night and day at all times of the year.

The disadvantage is that few people can live here. The advantage is that few others want to. Until modern times it has been impossible for outsiders to arrive in sufficient force to subdue the inhabitants for long.

Tibet remains one of the most mysterious countries in the world. Seemingly separated from the rest of humanity by the height of its plateau and its reputation for ascetic, other-worldly religious understanding, the Tibetan people are considered to be a saintly people. Their reputation is assisted by the occupation of the country by the Chinese and the occasional story that leaks out concerning the suppression of native Tibetan people by the Chinese army and the migrant Chinese people. The railway built between Qinghai and Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is the highest in the world. It has opened the country up to rapid economic development and the inward investment by Chinese businesses. Reports coming out of the country suggest that, as might be expected, economic development is benefiting the migrant Han Chinese rather than the indigenous Tibetans. Chinese is spoken more than Tibetan and only those Tibetans willing and able to communicate in Chinese can receive any more than the most menial jobs. Then there is the spread of the ubiquitous karaoke bars and gambling joints in the backstreets of Lhasa and along the highways. These corrode the soul and spirituality.

Nine Unknown Men

Nine Unknown Men are a two millennia-old secret society founded by the Indian Emperor Asoka.