The Ganden Phodrang , new era began with the Great 5th Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, who unified Central Tibet with the support first of the Mongol Gushri Khan and then the Qing emperor in the 17th century. He established a new system of government, known as the Ganden Phondrang, and built the Potala Palace as his center of administration. The Ganden Phodrang government under the leadership of the Dalai Lama and support from the Qing Emperor continued to rule Central Tibet and many other regions across the plateau until the 20th century. Under this system the Gelukpa monasteries had great power shared with various aristocratic families of Tibet.
This period basically ended in 1951 when Tibet was liberated by the people’s Republic of China and in 1959 when the local government of the Tibet Autonomous Region was established. Tibet has undertaken big changes since then. The feudal system was replaced by socialism. Secular education was established. Modern infrastructure has been built. And the power of monasteries is much reduced. During the past thousands of years, the Tibetans have developed a unique culture that has strongly been influenced by the local Bon religion and Buddhism.
Tibetan culture has also been enriched through contact and exchanges with other nationalities in China such as Han and Mongolians. The harsh climate and geographic isolation also helped Tibetans to develop a unique life style and tradition. They also learnt to live in harmony with nature and other forms of living beings. In the heart of the Tibetan people, respect for nature is considered to be the key or the foundation of a healthy and happy life. Belief in the three jewels of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, gratitude for parents and respect for teachers and doctors are also thought to be the basis of a happy and prosperous life.