Tourism contributes significantly to the economy of Gilgit-Baltistan. In addition, it is ideally situated to produce hydropower.
Last Updated: 23 Oct. 2013
The economy of Gilgit-Baltistan can be broadly categorized into four spheres, tourism, agriculture, minerals and hydro power.
Tourism is the main source of income for the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. Often called the paradise for mountaineers and trekkers, it contains some of the tallest mountains in the world. Numerous archeological sites, historical forts, rock carving from the days of the Silk Route, high altitude forests—this area has potential to turn into a major hub of tourism if it can only be developed properly and sustainably. But inaccessibility, lack of policy, negative perceptions about the security of this region and other factors prevent Gilgit-Baltistan from maximizing its potential. In 2010 the total number of tourists was around 62,000. The government of Gilgit-Baltistan hopes to develop their tourism industry such that they can accommodate 150,000 tourists each year.
Gilgit-Baltistan has a cool, dry climate and is rich in water resources. Fruits such as apricots, apples, grapes, pears and pomegranate are widely produced in this region. Dried fruits and nuts are another source of income; This region is ideal for growth of temperate fruits and vegetable and has a low insect, disease, and pest population.
Amongst its natural resources, Gilgit-Baltistan is rich in minerals deposits. These include metallic, non-metallic, energy minerals, precious stones and different rocks of industrial use. The southern areas of this region have substantial deposits of nickel, lead, copper and zircon. In its northern regions it contains deposits of iron, silver, gold, garnet and topaz. Mining for these minerals is carried out in valleys and along the Indus River. They are sold both in Pakistan and exported to the rest of the world.
Gilgit-Baltistan is ideally situated to become a hub of energy sector. The presence of a large catchment area makes it suitable for harnessing hydropower. The Indus River and its six main tributaries pass through this region and it is estimated that together they have the capacity to produce 40,000 MW of electricity. Currently there are 29 power projects under construction and 14 power projects that are under active planning.