Prior to 1951, Tibet had a theocratic government of which the Dalai Lama was the supreme religious and temporal head. After that the newly installed Chinese administrators relied on military control and a gradual establishment of civilian regional autonomy. Tibet was formally designated an autonomous region in 1965, as part of the separation of religion and civil administration. It is now divided into the prefecture-level municipality of Lhasa, directly under the jurisdiction of the regional government, and six prefectures, which are subdivided into districts, counties, and county-level municipalities.
The army consists of regular Chinese troops under a Chinese military commander, who is stationed at Lhasa. There are military cantonments in major towns along the borders with India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Local people have also been recruited into some militia regiments.