Dolpa became part of Nepal 200 years ago when the Gurkhas gained control over the region. Ties of blood and religion made the district a natural refuge for Tibetans who fled the Communist Chinese 'liberation' of Tibet in 1959. Within Dolpa's ring of massive mountains live a people economically and culturally disrupted by their estrangement from Tibet. It has much in common with Ladakh, Zanskar, Lahul and Spiti in India, and with Mustang its eastern Nepali neighbor. 1,000 year old Buddhist monasteries dot the Shey and Ban Tshang Valleys. The principal religion in Dolpa is Tibetan Buddhism. Dolpa has a subsistence economy, based on livestock and barley cultivation wrested from the steep mountain sides at elevations as high as 4,000m. Two groups of ethnic Tibetans make up Dolpa's sparse population. The Rungba, or 'valley farmers', whose yellow village houses belong to the monks while those painted white belong to the lay population. The Drok are nomadic yak herders. Interestingly, Drok girls mix grease and black root extract to use as a sun block on their faces at high altitudes.