Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly known as the Northern Areas, is the northernmost administrative territory in Pakistan. It borders Azad Kashmir to the south, the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the north, the Xinjiang region of China, to the east and northeast, and the Indian-administered state of Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. According to UNSC Resolution of 1947 the territory is part of the disputed Kashmir region along
The territory of present-day Gilgit-Baltistan became a separate administrative unit in 1970 under the name “Northern Areas”. It was formed by the amalgamation of the former Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan district and several small former princely states, the larger of which being Hunza and Nagar. In 2009, it was granted limited autonomy and renamed to Gilgit-Baltistan.
Gilgit-Baltistan covers an area of over 72,971 km² (28,174 sq mi) and is highly mountainous. It had an estimated population of 1,800,000 in 2015. Its capital city is Gilgit (population 216,760 est). Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the Polar Regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan. Tourism is mostly in trekking and mountaineering, and this industry is growing in importance.
Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and to more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Gilgit and Skardu are the two main hubs for expeditions to those mountains. The region is home to some of the world’s highest mountain ranges. The main ranges are the Karakoram and the western Himalayas. The Pamir Mountains are to the north, and the Hindu Kush lies to the west. Amongst the highest mountains are K2 (Mount Godwin-Austen) and Nanga Parbat, the latter being one of the most feared mountains in the world.
Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the Polar Regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan: the Biafo Glacier, the Baltoro Glacier, and the Batura Glacier. There are, in addition, several high-altitude lakes in Gilgit-Baltistan:
- Sheosar Lake in the Deosai Plains, skardu
- Naltar lakes in the Naltar Valley, Gilgit
- Satpara Tso Lake in Skardu, Baltistan
- Katzura Tso Lake in Skardu, Baltistan
- Zharba Tso Lake in Shigar, Baltistan
- Phoroq Tso Lake in Skardu, Baltistan
- Lake Kharfak in Gangche, Baltistan
- Byarsa Tso Lake in Gultari, Astore
- Borith Lake in Gojal, upper Hunza, Gilgit
- Rama Lake near Astore
- Rush Lake near Nagar, Gilgit
- Kromber Lake at Kromber Pass Ishkoman Valley, Ghizer District
- Barodaroksh Lake in Bar Valley, Nagar
- Ghorashi Lake in Ghandus Valley, Kharmang
The Deosai Plains, are located above the tree line and constitute the second-highest plateau in the world at 4,115 metres (14,500 feet) after Tibet. The plateau lies east of Astore, south of Skardu and west of Ladakh. The area was declared as a national park in 1993. The Deosai Plains cover an area of almost 5,000 square kilometres (1,900 sq mi). For over half the year (between September and May), Deosai is snow-bound and cut off from rest of Astore and Baltistan in winters. The village of Deosai lies close to Chilum chokki and is connected with the Kargil district of Ladakh through an all-weather road.