|Coordinates (Gangtok): / 27.33; 88.62 / 27.33; 88.62|
|Admission to Union||16 May 1975|
|• Governor||Shriniwas Dadasaheb Patil|
|• Chief Minister||Pawan Chamling (SDF)|
|• Legislature||Unicameral (32 seats)|
|• Parliamentary constituency||Rajya Sabha 1
Lok Sabha 1
|• High Court||Sikkim High Court|
|• Total||7,096 km (2,740 sq mi)|
|• Density||91/km (240/sq mi)|
|• Additional official||Bhutia, Gurung, Lepcha, Limbu, Manger, Mukhia, Newari, Rai, Sherpa, Sikkimese, Tamang|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+05:30)|
|ISO 3166 code||IN-SK|
|HDI rank||7th (2005)|
|Assembly of Sikkim abolished monarchy and resolved to be a constituent unit of India. A referendum was held on these issues and majority of the voters voted yes. On 15 May 1975 the President of India ratified a constitutional amendment that made Sikkim the 22nd state of India.|
|Song||"Music of Sikkim"|
Sikkim (//) is a northeastern state of India. It borders China in its north and east, Bhutan in its east, Nepal in its west and the Indian state of West Bengal in its south. Sikkim is also located close to the Siliguri Corridor near Bangladesh. Sikkim is the least populous and second smallest among the Indian states. A part of the Eastern Himalaya, Sikkim is notable for its biodiversity, including alpine and subtropical climates, as well as being a host to Kanchenjunga, the highest peak in India and third highest on Earth. Sikkim's capital and largest city is Gangtok. Almost 35% of the state is covered by the Khangchendzonga National Park.
The Kingdom of Sikkim was founded on the Silk Road by the Namgyal dynasty in the 17th century. It was ruled by a Buddhist priest-king known as the Chogyal. It became a princely state of British India in 1890. After the People's Republic of China invaded Tibet, Sikkim continued its protectorate status with the dominion and republic of India. It enjoyed the highest literacy rate and per capita income among Himalayan states. In 1975, the Indian military deposed the Sikkimese monarchy. A referendum in 1975 led to Sikkim joining India as its 22nd state.
Modern Sikkim is a multiethnic and multilingual Indian state. Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali, Sikkimese, Lepcha, Tamang, Limbu, Newari, Rai, Gurung, Magar, Sunwar and English. English is taught in schools and used in government documents. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Sikkim's economy is largely dependent on agriculture and tourism, and as of 2014 the state had the third-smallest GDP among Indian states, although it is also among the fastest-growing.
Sikkim accounts for the largest share of cardamom production in India, and is the world's second largest producer of the spice after Guatemala. Sikkim has the highest share of agricultural land dedicated to organic farming in India. It is also among India's most environmentally conscious states, having banned plastic water bottles and styrofoam products.
The most widely accepted origin theory of the name Sikkim is that it is a combination of two Limbu words: su, which means "new", and khyim, which means "palace" or "house". The name is believed to be a reference to the palace built by the state's first ruler, Phuntsog Namgyal. The Tibetan name for Sikkim is Drenjong (Wylie-transliteration: ´bras ljongs), which means "valley of rice", while the Bhutias call it Beyul Demazong, which means '"the hidden valley of rice". The Lepcha people, the original inhabitants of Sikkim, called it Nye-mae-el, meaning "paradise". In History, Sikkim is known as Indrakil, the garden of the war god Indra.
Little is known about Sikkim's ancient history, beyond the fact that its original inhabitants were the Lepcha. The earliest historical mention of Sikkim is a record of the passage of the Buddhist saint Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, through the land in the 8th century. The Guru is reported to have blessed the land, introduced Buddhism, and foretold the era of monarchy that would arrive in Sikkim centuries later. According to legend, Khye Bumsa, a 14th-century prince from the Minyak House in Kham in eastern Tibet, received a divine revelation instructing him to travel south to seek his fortunes. A fifth-generation descendant of Khye Bumsa, Phuntsog Namgyal, became the founder of Sikkim's monarchy in 1642, when he was consecrated as the first Chogyal, or priest-king, of Sikkim by the three venerated lamas at Yuksom. Phuntsog Namgyal was succeeded in 1670 by his son, Tensung Namgyal, who moved the capital from Yuksom to Rabdentse (near modern Pelling). In 1700, Sikkim was invaded by the Bhutanese with the help of the half-sister of the Chogyal, who had been denied the throne. The Bhutanese were driven away by the Tibetans, who restored the throne to the Chogyal ten years later. Between 1717 and 1733, the kingdom faced many raids by the Nepalese in the west and Bhutanese in the east, culminating with the destruction of the capital Rabdentse by the Nepalese. In 1791, China sent troops to support Sikkim and defend Tibet against the Gorkha Kingdom. Following the subsequent defeat of Gorkha, the Chinese Qing dynasty established control over Sikkim.
Following the beginning of British rule in neighbouring India, Sikkim allied with Britain against their common adversary, Nepal. The Nepalese attacked Sikkim, overrunning most of the region including the Terai. This prompted the British East India Company to attack Nepal, resulting in the Gurkha War of 1814. Treaties signed between Sikkim and Nepal resulted in the return of the territory annexed by the Nepalese in 1817. However, ties between Sikkim and the British weakened when the latter began taxation of the Morang region. In 1849, two British physicians, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker and Dr. Archibald Campbell, the latter being in charge of relations between the British and Sikkimese governments, ventured into the mountains of Sikkim unannounced and unauthorised. The doctors were detained by the Sikkimese government, leading to a punitive British expedition against the kingdom, after which the Darjeeling district and Morang were annexed to British India in 1853. The invasion led to the Chogyal of Sikkim becoming a titular ruler under the directive of the British governor.
Sikkim became a British protectorate in the later decades of the 19th century, formalised by a convention signed with China in 1890. Sikkim was gradually granted more sovereignty over the next three decades, and became a member of the Chamber of Princes, the assembly representing the rulers of the Indian princely states, in 1922.
Prior to the Indian independence, Jawaharlal Nehru, as the Vice President of the Executive Council, pushed through a resolution in the Indian Constituent Assembly to the effect that Sikkim and Bhutan, as Himilayan states, were not 'Indian states' and their future should be negotiated separately. A standstill agreement was signed in February 1948.
Meanwhile, the Indian independence and its move to democracy spurred a fledgling political movement in Sikkim, giving rise to the formation of Sikkim State Congress (SSC). The party sent a plate of demands to the palace, including a demand for accession to India. The palace attempted to defuse the movement by appointing three secretaries from the SSC to the government and sponsoring a counter-movement in the name of Sikkim National Party, which opposed accession to India.
The demand for responsible government continued and the SSC launched a civil disobedience movement. The Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal asked India for help in quelling the movement, which was offered in the form of a small military police force and an Indian Dewan. In 1950, a treaty was agreed between India and Sikkim which gave Sikkim the status of an Indian protectorate. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, which controlled its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications. In other respects, Sikkim retained administrative autonomy.
A state council was established in 1953 to allow for constitutional government under the Chogyal. Despite pressures from an India "bent on annexation", Chogyal Palden Thondup Namgyal was able to preserve autonomy and shape a "model Asian state" where the literacy rate and per capita income were twice as high as neighboring Nepal, Bhutan and India. Meanwhile, the India-backed Sikkim National Congress demanded fresh elections and greater representation for Nepalis in Sikkim. People marched on the palace against the monarchy. In 1973, antiroyalist riots took place in front of the Chogyal's palace.
In 1975, the Prime Minister of Sikkim appealed to the Indian Parliament for Sikkim to become a 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 per cent of voters supported abolishing the monarchy, effectively approving union with India. According to Chinese state media, India had stationed 100,000 troops in a nation of only 200,000 during the referendum. Neither the Chogyal nor his supporters were allowed to organize a campaign in support of the monarchy. On 16 May 1975, Sikkim became the 22nd state of the Indian Union, and the monarchy was abolished. To enable the incorporation of the new state, the Indian Parliament amended the Indian Constitution. First, the 35th Amendment laid down a set of conditions that made Sikkim an "Associate State", a special designation not used by any other state. A month later, the 36th Amendment repealed the 35th Amendment, and made Sikkim a full state, adding its name to the First Schedule of the Constitution.
In 2000, the seventeenth Karmapa, Urgyen Trinley Dorje, who had been confirmed by the Dalai Lama and accepted as a tulku by the Chinese government, escaped from Tibet, seeking to return to the Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. Chinese officials were in a quandary on this issue, as any protests to India would mean an explicit endorsement of India's governance of Sikkim, which China still recognised as an independent state occupied by India. The Chinese government eventually recognised Sikkim as an Indian state in 2003, on the condition that India officially recognise Tibet as a part of China; New Delhi had originally accepted Tibet as a part of China in 1953 during the government of Jawaharlal Nehru. The 2003 agreement led to a thaw in Sino-Indian relations, and on 6 July 2006, the Sikkimese Himalayan pass of Nathu La was opened to cross-border trade, becoming the first open border between India and China. The pass, which had previously been closed since the 1962 Sino-Indian War, was an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road.
On 18 September 2011, a magnitude 6.9Mw earthquake struck Sikkim, killing at least 116 people in the state and in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Tibet. More than 60 people died in Sikkim alone, and the city of Gangtok suffered significant damage.
Nestling 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 (920 ft) to 8,586 metres (28,169 ft). The summit of Kangchenjunga-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. However, some hill slopes have been converted into terrace farms. 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 flow through the state from north to south. About a third of the state is heavily forested. The Himalayan mountains surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim. The Lower Himalayas, lying in the southern reaches of the state, are the most densely populated. The state has 28 mountain peaks, more than 80 glaciers, 227 high-altitude lakes (including the Tsongmo, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lakes), five major hot springs, and more than 100 rivers and streams. Eight mountain passes connect the state to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal. Sikkim's hot springs are renowned for their medicinal and therapeutic values. Among the state's most notable hot springs are those at Phurchachu, Yumthang, Borang, Ralang, Taram-chu and Yumey Samdong. The springs, which have a high sulphur content, are located near river banks; some are known to emit hydrogen. The average temperature of the water in these hot springs is 50 °C (122 °F).
The hills of Sikkim mainly consist of gneissose and half-schistose rocks, producing generally poor and shallow brown clay soils. The soil is coarse, with large concentrations of iron oxide; it ranges from neutral to acidic and is lacking in organic and mineral nutrients. This type of soil tends to support evergreen and deciduous forests.
Most of Sikkim is covered by Precambrian rock, which is much younger in age than the hills. The rock consists of phyllites and schists, and is highly susceptible to weathering and erosion. This, combined with the state's heavy rainfall, causes extensive soil erosion and the loss of soil nutrients through leaching. As a result, landslides are frequent, often isolating rural towns and villages from the major urban centres.
The state has five seasons: winter, summer, spring, autumn, and a monsoon season between June and September. Sikkim's climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to tundra in the north. Most of the inhabited regions of Sikkim experience a temperate climate, with temperatures seldom exceeding 28 °C (82 °F) in summer. The average annual temperature for most of Sikkim is around 18 °C (64 °F).
Sikkim is one of the few states in India to receive regular snowfall. The snow line ranges from 6,100 metres (20,000 ft) in the south of the state to 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) in the north. The tundra-type region in the north is snowbound for four months every year, and the temperature drops below 0 °C (32 °F) almost every night. In north-western Sikkim, the peaks are frozen year-round; because of the high altitude, temperatures in the mountains can drop to as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter.
During the monsoon, heavy rains increase the risk of landslides. The record for the longest period of continuous rain in Sikkim is 11 days. Fog affects many parts of the state during winter and the monsoons, making transportation perilous.
|Population growth history|
|Sources: Census of India|
Sikkim is India's least populous state, with 610,577 inhabitants according to the 2011 census. Sikkim is also one of the least densely populated Indian states, with only 86 persons per square kilometre. However, it has a high population growth rate, averaging 12.36% per cent between 2001 and 2011. The sex ratio is 889 females per 1,000 males, with a total of 321,661 males and 286,027 females recorded in 2011. With around 98,000 inhabitants as of 2011, the capital Gangtok is the most significant urban area in the mostly rural state; in 2005, the urban population in Sikkim constituted around 11.06 per cent of the total. In 2011, the average per capita income in Sikkim stood at ₹81,159 (US$1,305).
Nepali is the lingua franca of Sikkim, while Sikkimese (Bhutia) and Lepcha are spoken in certain areas. English is also spoken and understood in most of Sikkim. Other languages include Dzongkha, Groma, Gurung, Limbu, Magar, Majhi, Majhwar, Nepal Bhasa, Rai, Sherpa, Sunuwar, Tamang, Thulung, Tibetan, and Yakha.
The major languages spoken as per census 2001 are Nepali (338,606), Sikkimese (41,825), Hindi (36,072), Lepcha (35,728), Limbu (34,292), Sherpa (13,922), Tamang (10,089), etc.
The majority of Sikkim's residents are of Nepali ethnic origin. The native Sikkimese consist of the Bhutias, who migrated from the Kham district of Tibet in the 14th century, and the Lepchas, who are believed to have migrated from the Far East. Tibetans reside mostly in the northern and eastern reaches of the state. Migrant resident communities include Biharis, Bengalis and Marwaris, who are prominent in commerce in South Sikkim and Gangtok.
Hinduism is the state's major religion and is practised mainly by ethnic Nepalis; an estimated 57.8 per cent of the total population are adherents of the religion. There exist many Hindu temples. Kirateshwar Mahadev Temple is very popular, since it consists of the chardham altogether.
Vajrayana Buddhism, which accounts for 27.3 per cent of the population, is Sikkim's second-largest, yet most prominent religion. Prior to Sikkim's becoming a part of the Indian Union, Vajrayana Buddhism was the state religion under the Chogyal. Sikkim has 75 Buddhist monasteries, the oldest dating back to the 1700s. The public and visual aesthetics of Sikkim are executed in shades of Vajrayana Buddhism and Buddhism plays a significant role in public life, even among Sikkim's majority Nepali Hindu population.
Christians in Sikkim are mostly descendants of Lepcha people who were converted by British missionaries in the late 19th century, and constitute around 10 per cent of the population. As of 2014, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Sikkim is the largest Christian denomination in Sikkim. Other religious minorities include Muslims of Bihari ethnicity and Jains, who each account for roughly one per cent of the population. The traditional religions of the native Sikkimese account for much of the remainder of the population.
Although tensions between the Lepchas and the Nepalese escalated during the merger of Sikkim with India in the 1970s, there has never been any major degree of communal religious violence, unlike in other Indian states. The traditional religion of the Lepcha people is Mun, an animist practice which coexists with Buddhism and Christianity.
Sikkim's Nepalese majority celebrate all major Hindu festivals, including Diwali and Dussera. Traditional local festivals, such as Maghe Sankranti and Bhimsen Puja, are also popular. Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu are among the Buddhist festivals celebrated in Sikkim. During the Losar (Tibetan New Year), most offices and educational institutions are closed for a week. Sikkimese Muslims celebrate Eid ul-Fitr and Muharram. Christmas has also been promoted in Gangtok to attract tourists during the off-season.
Western rock music and Indian pop have gained a wide following in Sikkim. Indigenous Nepali rock and Lepcha music are also popular. Sikkim's most popular sports are football and cricket, although hang gliding and river rafting have also grown popular as part of the tourism industry.
Noodle-based dishes such as thukpa, chowmein, thanthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common in Sikkim. Momos – steamed dumplings filled with vegetables, buffalo meat or pork and served with soup – are a popular snack. Beer, whiskey, rum and brandy are widely consumed in Sikkim, as is tongba, a millet-based alcoholic beverage which is also popular in Nepal and Darjeeling. Sikkim has the third-highest per capita alcoholism rate amongst all Indian states, behind Punjab and Haryana.
The southern urban areas of Sikkim have English, Nepali and Hindi daily newspapers. Nepali-language newspapers, as well as some English newspapers, are locally printed, whereas Hindi and English newspapers are printed in Siliguri. Important local dailies and weeklies include Hamro Xa Xa Prajashakti (Nepali daily), Himalayan Mirror (English daily), the Samay Dainik, Sikkim Express (English), Sikkim Now (English), Kanchanjunga Times (Nepali weekly), Pragya Khabar (Nepali weekly) and Himalibela. Furthermore, the state receives regional editions of national English newspapers such as The Statesman, The Telegraph, The Hindu and The Times of India. Himalaya Darpan, a Nepali daily published in Siliguri, is one of the leading Nepali daily newspapers in the region. The Sikkim Herald is an official weekly publication of the government. Online media covering Sikkim include the Nepali newspaper Himgiri, the English news portal Haalkhabar and the literary magazine Tistarangit. Avyakta, Bilokan, the Journal of Hill Research, Khaber Khagaj, Panda, and the Sikkim Science Society Newsletter are among other registered publications.
Internet cafés are well established in the district capitals, but broadband connectivity is not widely available. Satellite television channels through dish antennae are available in most homes in the state. Channels served are largely the same as those available in the rest of India, although Nepali-language channels are also available. The main service providers include Dish TV, Doordarshan and Nayuma.
In 2011, Sikkim's adult literacy rate was 82.2 per cent: 87.29 per cent for males and 76.43 per cent for females. There are a total of 1,157 schools in the state, including 765 schools run by the state government, seven central government schools and 385 private schools. Twelve colleges and other institutions in Sikkim offer higher education. The largest institution is the Sikkim Manipal University of Technological Sciences, which offers higher education in engineering, medicine and management. It also runs a host of distance education programs in diverse fields. There are two state-run polytechnical schools, the Advanced Technical Training Centre (ATTC) and the Centre for Computers and Communication Technology (CCCT), which offer diploma courses in various branches of engineering. ATTC is situated at Bardang, Singtam, and CCCT at Chisopani, Namchi. Sikkim University began operating in 2008 at Yangang, which is situated about 28 kilometres (17 mi) from Singtam. Many students, however, migrate to Siliguri, Kolkata, Bangalore and other Indian cities for their higher education.
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