Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso (born Lhamo Döndrub) (Tibetan: ལྷ་མོ་དོན་འགྲུབ་; Wylie: Lha-mo Don-'grub; Chinese: 拉莫顿珠) (born 6 July 1935 in Taktser, Amdo, northeastern Tibet, then recently incorporated into Qinghai) is the 14th Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader revered among the people of Tibet. He is the head of the government-in-exile based in Dharamshala, India. Tibetans traditionally believe him to be the reincarnation of his predecessors.
The Dalai Lama was born fifth of 16 children to a farming family in the village of Taktser. His first language was, in his own words, "a broken Xining language which was (a dialect of) the Chinese language" as his family did not speak the regional Amdo dialect. He was proclaimed the tulku or rebirth of the 13th Dalai Lama at the age of two. In 1950 the army of the People's Republic of China invaded the region. One month later, on 17 November 1950, he was enthroned formally as Dalai Lama: at the age of fifteen, he became the region's most important spiritual leader and political ruler.
In 1951 the Chinese military pressured the Dalai Lama to ratify a seventeen-point agreement which permitted the People's Republic of China to take control of Tibet. He fled through the mountains to India soon after the failed 1959 uprising, and the effective collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement. In India he established a government-in-exile.
The most influential member of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect, he has considerable influence over the other sects of Tibetan Buddhism. The Chinese government regards him as the symbol of an outmoded theocratic system. Along with the 80,000 or so exiles that followed him, the Dalai Lama strives to preserve traditional Tibetan education and culture.
Conditions in Tibet have in more recent years caused an international protest movement, including the attempted disruption of the 2008 Olympic Games. In March 2008 the Dalai Lama asked for an international inquiry into China's treatment of Tibet, which he said amounted to cultural genocide.
A noted public speaker worldwide, the Dalai Lama is often described as charismatic. He is the first Dalai Lama to travel to the West, where he seeks to spread Buddhist teachings and to promote ethics and interfaith harmony. In 1989 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He was given honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006, and was awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal during October 2007. He has received more than 100 honorary conferments and major awards.
On 17 December 2008, after months of speculation, the Dalai Lama announced his semi-retirement. He said that the future course of the movement he had directed for nearly five decades would now be decided by the elected parliament-in-exile with the prime minister Samdhong Rinpoche. The 73-year-old Nobel laureate, who recently had surgery, told reporters in Dharamsala, "I have grown old.... It is better if I retire completely and get out of the way of the Tibetan movement."