Capital : Shimla
Largest city : Shimla
District(s) : 12
Population : 6,077,248 (20th)
Density : 109/km² (282/sq mi)
Language(s) : Hindi, Pahari
Established : 25 January 1971
Himachal Pradesh is a state in the north-west of India. Himachal Pradesh is spread over 55,780 square kilometres (21,537 sq mi) and is bordered by the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir on north, Punjab on west and south-west, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh on south, Uttarakhand on south-east and by Tibet area of China on the east. The literal meaning of Himachal Pradesh is Land of snowy mountains.
Himachal Pradesh was also known as Deva Bhoomi (the land of the gods). The Aryan influence in the region dates back to the period before the Rigveda. After the Anglo Gorkha war, the British colonial government came into power. It was initially in Punjab, except Siba State of Punjab Hills, under the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh till 1857  In 1950 Himachal was declared as the union territory but after State of Himachal Pradesh Act 1971 Himchal emerged as the 18th state of Indian Union.The state is located in altitudes ranging from 450 metres (1,476 ft) to 6,500 metres (21,325 ft) above sea level. The state capital is Shimla (formerly British India’s summer capital under the name Simla); other major towns include Una, Solan, Dharamsala, Kangra, Mandi, Chamba, Hamirpur, Dalhousie and Manali. Himachal Pradesh has one of the highest per capita incomes of any state in India. Due to the abundance of perennial rivers, Himachal also sells hydro electricity to other states such as Delhi, Punjab & Rajasthan. The economy of the state is highly dependent upon three sources i.e. Hydel power, tourism and agriculture.95% of the state population constitutes of Hindus. The major communities are of Brahmins, Rajputs, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis. As per the survey conducted in 2005 by Transparency International Himachal Pradesh is ranked second least corrupt state in the country after Kerala.
The history of Himachal Pradesh dates back to the time when the Indus valley civilisation flourished i.e. between the time period of 2250 and 1750 B.C. From the pre historic time it was inhabited by tribes like the Koilis, Halis, Dagis, Dhaugris, Dasa, Khasas, Kinnars and Kirats.The small kingdom enjoyed a large degree of independence till the eve of the Muslim invasions in northern India. The states of the foothills were devastated by Muslim invaders a number of times.Mahmud Ghaznavi conquered Kangra at the beginning of the 10th century. Timur and Sikander Lodi also marched through the lower hills of the state and captured a number of forts and fought many battles.
The Gorkhas, a martial tribe came to power in Nepal in the year 1768. They consolidated their military power and began to expand their territory. Gradually the Gorkhas annexed Sirmour and Shimla. With the leadership of Amar Singh Thapa, Gorkhas laid siege to Kangra. They managed to defeat Sansar Chand, the ruler of kangra, in 1806 with the help of many provincial chiefs. However Gorkhas could not capture Kangra fort which came under Maharaja Ranjeet Singh in 1809. After the defeat the Gorkhas began to expand towards the south of the state.However,Raja Ram Singh,Raja of Siba State re-captured the fort of Siba from the army of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Samvat 1846. This led in the Anglo-Sikh war. They came into direct conflict with the British along the tarai belt after which the British expelled them from the provinces of the Satluj. Thus British gradually emerged as the paramount powers. The revolt of 1857 or first Indian war of independence resulted due to the building up of political, social, economic, religious and military grievances against the British government. People of the hill states were not politically alive as the people in other parts of the country. They remained more or less inactive and so did their rulers with the exception of Bushahr. Some of them even rendered help to the British government during the revolt. Among them were the rulers of Chamba, Bilaspur, Bhagal and Dhami. The rulers of Bushars rather acted in a manner hostile to the interests of British.
The British territories in the hill came under British Crown after Queen Victoria’s proclamation of 1858. The states of Chamba, Mandi and Bilaspur made good progress in many fields during the British rule. During the first world war, virtually all rulers of the hill states remained loyal and contributed to the British war effort both in the form of men and materials. Amongst these were the states of Kangra, Jaswan,Datarpur,Guler, Nurpur, Chamba, Suket, Mandi and Bilaspur. After independence the Chief Commissioner’s province of H.P. came into being on 15 April 1948. Himachal became a part C state on 26 January 1950 with the implementation of the Constitution of India. Himachal Pradesh became Union Territory on 1 November 1956. On 18 December 1970 the State of Himachal Pradesh Act was passed by Parliament and the new state came into being on 25 January 1971. Thus Himachal emerged as the eighteenth state of Indian Union.
The drainage system of Himachal is composed both of rivers and glaciers. Himalayan rivers criss-cross the entire mountain chain. In fact the rivers are older than the mountain system.  Himachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Ganges basins. The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and rainfall. They are protected by an extensive cover of natural vegetation.
Flora and fauna
It has been estimated that 68% of the land area is covered with forests. The southern tracts are dominated by sal, sisham, chir pine, dry deciduous and moist broad-leafed forests. The temperate region grows oaks, deodar, blue pine, fir and spruce. In the uppermost region, trees are sturdy with a vast network of roots. Alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine scrubs are there as the regional vegetation. The rhododendrons can be seen along the hillsides around Shimla from March to May. Himachal is also said to be the fruit bowl of the country with orchards scattered all over the place. Meadows and pastures are also seen clinging to steep slopes. After the winter season, the hillsides and orchards bloom with wild flowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips and lilies are carefully cultivated. The state government is gearing up to make Himachal Pradesh as the flower basket of the world. Himachal Pradesh is a well known habitat to a variety of animals. There are around 1200 bird and 359 animal species in the state. This includes the leopards, ghoral, musk deer (the state animal) and monal, (the state bird). It has 12 major national parks and sanctuaries – the largest number in the Himalayan region. The Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu district was created to conserve the flora and fauna of the main Himalayan range, while the Pin Valley National Park to conserve the flora and fauna of the cold desert.
Himachal was one of the few states that had remained largely untouched by external customs, largely due to its difficult terrain. With the technological advancements the state has changed very rapidly. Himachal Pradesh is a multireligional, multicultural as well as multilingual state like other Indian states. Some of the most commonly spoken languages includes Hindi, Punjabi, Pahari, Dogri, Kangri and Kinnauri. The Hindu caste communities residing in Himachal include the Brahmins, Rajputs, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis. There are also tribal population in the state which mainly comprise Gaddis, Kinnars, Gujjars, Pangawals and Lahaulis. Himachal is well known for its handicrafts. The carpets, leather works, shawls, paintings, metalware, woodwork and paintings are worth appreciating. Pashmina shawl is one of the product which is highly in demand not only in Himachal but all over the country. Himachali caps are also famous art work of the people.
Local music and dance reflects the cultural identity of the state. Through their dance and music, they entreat their gods during local festivals and other special occasions. Apart from the fairs and festivals that are celebrated all over India, there are number of other fairs and festivals also that are of great significance to Himachal Pradesh. Shimla, the state capital is home to Asia’s only natural Ice skating rink. The day to day food of Himachalis is very similar to the rest of the north India. They too have lentil, broth, rice, vegetables and bread. As compared to other states in north India non vegetarian is more preferred. Some of the specialities of Himachal include Pateer, Chouck, Bhagjery, Patrode, Beduan and chutney of Til. Famous people associated with Himachal include English author Rudyard Kipling, Indian film personalities Dalip Singh Rana, Anupam Kher, Preity Zinta, Amrish Puri (who studied here), and Prem Chopra (brought up here), economist and former vice-president of World Bank Shahid Javed Burki, Satyananda Stokes who introduced apple in the region, writer Idries Shah, ornithologist Allan Octavian Hume (had his home here), and former general of Pakistan Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq who studied here.
Gaddi man at Dharamkot, Himachal Pradesh, 2004The population of Himachal in 2001 stood at 6,077,248 as per the provisional results of the Census of India 2001. The population of Himachal Pradesh includes estimated population of entire Kinnaur district, where the population enumeration of Census of India, 2001 could not be conducted due to natural calamity. In terms of population it holds the same position (twenty first) among States and Union territories as at the previous census. The population of the State rose by 17.53% between 1991-2001. The sex ratio (i.e., the number of females per thousand males) of population was recorded as 970, which has declined from 976 in the previous census. Total literacy of the State rose to 77.13% from 63.94% in 1991. The tribal population of the state comprise of the Gaddis, Kinnars, Gujjars, Pangawals, Lahaulis and Spitians. The Gaddis are the traditional shepherds who migrate from the alpine pastures to the lower regions during the winters. The Kinnars are the inhabitants of the Kinnaur region and have traditionally practiced polyandry and polygamy. The Gujjars are nomads who rear buffalo herds. Himachal also has a sizeable population of Tibetans
About 95.4% of the population of Himachal Pradesh consists of Hindus, Muslims 2.0%, Sikhs 1.2% and Buddhists 1.2% . There main communities are Brahmins, Rajputs, Kannets, Rathis and Kolis. Himachal Pradesh has the highest proportion of Hindu population in India. Other religions are Sikhism and Buddhism. The Lahaulis of Lahaul and Spiti region are mainly Buddhists.
The major spoken languages include Hindi, Punjabi, Mahasui, Kulluyi, Lahauli, Kinnauri, Chambyali, Sirmauri, Bilaspuri, Pahari, Dogri, Kangri.
Some of the achievements in human development by the state are listed below-
-The life expectancy at birth was 62.8 years (higher than the national average of 57.7 years) for the period 1986–1990.
-The Infant mortality rate has fallen down from 118 in 1971 to 62 in 1999.
-The crude birth rate has declined from 37.3 in 1971 to 22.6 in 1998 i.e. below the national average of 26.5 in 1998.
-The crude death rate has declined from 15.6 in 1971 to 7.7 in 1998.
-The Total Fertility Rate (TFR) has declined from 4.7 to 3.6.
-Overall literacy grew by 34.65% between the period 1981 and 2001.
Kullu district is leading with the value of 0.534 in Human development index (HDI)
Languages of the Sino-Tibetan languages spoken in Himachal Pradesh are the Sunam language 558 (1998), Gahri language 4,000 (1997), Jangshung language 1,990 (1998),Kanashi language 1,400 (2002 Chauhan), Kinnauri language 48,778, Kinnauri Bhoti language 6,000 (1998), Chitkuli language 1,060 (1998), Pattani language 11,000 (1997), Shumcho language 2,174 (1998) and the Tukpa language 723 (1998).