Sikkim is an Indian state located in the Himalayan mountains. The State is landlocked and bordered by Nepal to the west, China’s Tibet Autonomous Region to the north and cast, and Bhutan to the east. The Indian State of West Bengal lies to the south.
Nestling as it does in the Himalayan mountains the State of Sikkim is characterised by mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with an elevation ranging from 280 metres to 8,586 metres. The summit of Kanchenjunga — the world’s third-highest peak — is the State’s highest point, situated on the border between Sikkim and Nepal. For the most part, the land is unfit for agriculture because of the rocky, precipitous slopes. Numerous snow-fed streams have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the State, These streams combine into the major Teesta River and its tributary the Rangeet which flows from north to south. About a third of the State is heavily forested. The State has 25 mountain peaks, more than 80 glaciers, and 227 high altitude lakes.
The State has five seasons — summer, spring, autumn, winter and the rainy season between June and September. During the monsoon, heavy rains increase the risk of landslides. Sikkim’s climate ranges from the subtropical region in the south to the tundra region in the north. It is one of the few states in India to receive regular snowfall.
In 1890, Sikkim became a British Protectorate and was gradually granted more sovereignty over the next three decades. In 1947, when India became independent, a popular vote rejected Sikkim’s joining the Indian Union, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a special protectorate status for Sikkim.
In 1975, the Prime Minister of Sikkim appealed to the Indian Parliament for Sikkim to become the State of India. In April of that year, the Indian Army took over the city of Gangtok and disarmed the Chogyal’s palace guards. Thereafter a referendum was held in which 97.5 % voters supported abolishing the monarchy, effectively approving union with India, On 16 May 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd State of the India Union, and the monarchy was abolished.
Gangtok is the State’s capital and the largest city. Sikkim is India’s least populous state. It has 610,577 people according to the 2011 census. The majority of Sikkim’s residents are of Nepali ethnic origin and the native Sikkimese consist of the Bhutias. Hinduism has been the State’s major religion since the arrival of the Nepalis. Sikkim’s second-largest religion is Buddhism, with 75 Buddhist monasteries.
Nepali is the lingua franca of Sikkim while Sikkimese and Lepcha are spoken in certain areas. English and Hindi are also spoken and understood in most of Sikkim. English is taught in schools and used in government documents. The literacy rate of Sikkim is 69.68 % with 76.73 % for males and 61.46 % for females. Like most other Indian States, Sikkim has a unicameral Legislature with 32 seats. It is also allocated one seat for each of the two chambers of the Indian Parliament, the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha.
Sikkim’s economy is largely dependent on agriculture and tourism, and as of 2012 report, the State has the third-smallest GDP among Indian states, although it is also among the fast-growing regions.
As for transportation, National Highways 31 and 31 A link Siliguri to Gangtok. The State has no railway infrastructure. The closest major railway stations are Siliguri and New Jalpaiguri in neighbouring West Bengal. Sikkim has no airport. However, Pakyong Airport, the State’s first airport, has been planned at a distance of 30 km from Gangtok. It also has the only open land border between India and China.
Sikkim is a popular tourist destination, owing to its culture, scenery, and biodiversity, Sikkim’s most popular sports are cricket and football.