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Tenzin Gyatso (born 6 July 1935) is the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama. As such, he is often referred to in Western media simply as "the Dalai Lama", without any qualifiers.
He was the fifth of sixteen children of a farming family in the village of Taktser or Tengtser of the Tibetan province of Amdo and was originally named Lhamo Döndrub Wylie: Lha-mo Don-'grub. His first language was the Amdo dialect of Tibetan. He was proclaimed the tulku (rebirth) of the thirteenth Dalai Lama at the age of two.
On 17 November 1950, at the age of fifteen, he was enthroned as Tibet's Head of State and, as the most important political ruler while Tibet faced occupation by the forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC). In 1954, he went to Beijing to talk with Mao Zedong and other leaders of the PRC. He was also elected as the vice chairman of China's National People's Congress in 1954.
After the collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement in 1959, Tenzin Gyatso fled to India, where he was active in establishing the Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan government in exile) and in seeking to preserve Tibetan culture and education among the thousands of refugees who accompanied him. A charismatic figure and noted public speaker, Tenzin Gyatso is the first Dalai Lama to travel to the West. There, he has helped to spread Buddhism and to promote the concepts of universal responsibility, secular ethics, and religious harmony.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, Honorary Canadian citizenship in 2006, and the United States' Congressional Gold Medal in 2007.