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With a population of just 2,300, the Lhoba are one of the smallest officially recognized ethnic groups in China.

They live in southern Tibet, where they engage in traditional agriculture and hunting. Until the Chinese occupation of Tibet, the Lhoba had no written language. Although a romanized alphabet was developed for them, even today there are many elderly Lhoba who cannot read or even count. The occupation of Tibet also brought many changes to traditional Lhoba culture. Most significantly, it helped to integrate the Lhoba with the dominant Tibetan culture and began to put an end to the rigid class system, by which the Lhoba were divided into two distinct castes--aristocrat and peasant--which were not allowed to intermix.