The northern-most region of Pakistan, Gilgit-Baltistan is the meeting point of the three tallest mountain ranges in the world.
Last Updated: 23 Oct. 2013
Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) is a self-governing region in the northern part of Pakistan. Gilgit-Baltistan is bordered on the west by the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on the north by Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor, on the south by the Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir and Pakistan held Azad Kashmir, and on the east and northeast by China. It contains a population of approximately 2 million and covers an area of 72,496 km2.
This region is the meeting point of the three highest mountain ranges in the world: Himalayas, Hindu Kush and Karakoram. It is home to 5 of the 14 eight-thousanders (peaks higher than 8,000 meters): K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum I, Broad Peak, and Gasherbrum II. It contains some of the longest glaciers outside the Polar Regions including the Siachen, Baltoro, Biafo, Batura and Godwin Austin glaciers. This entire region is often known as the Roof of the World for the high elevation at which it is situated.
There is great diversity in languages spoken in this area. Linguistics broadly divide the local languages into two categories: Dardic and Non-Dardic. Dardic languages include Khowar, Shina, and Maiyan. Non-Dardic languages include Burushaski, Domaaki, Wakhi and Balti. Non-local languages spoken are Urdu and Pushto.
In 1970, the merger of Gilgit Agency, Baltistan district of India’s Ladakh province, and the princely states of Hunza and Nagar became known as the ‘Northern Areas’ of Pakistan. In 2009, Pakistan’s cabinet signed the Gilgit-Baltistan Empowerment and Self-Governance Order, which changed the area’s name to Gilgit-Baltistan. It is divided into two administrative divisions. One is Gilgit Division that has five districts: Gilgit, Ghizer, Diamer, Astore, and Hunza-Nagar. The other is Baltistan Division that has four districts: Skardu, Ghanche, Shigar, and Kharmang.
The administrative capital of Gilgit-Baltistan is Gilgit. It is located besides the Gilgit River at a height of 1454 meters. Other major cities include Skardu, Astore, Chilas and Bunji.