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|Established||16th May 1975|
|Governor||Balmiki Prasad Singh|
|Chief Minister||Dr. Pawan Singh Chamling|
|Density||76.17 /km2 (197 /sq mi)|
|Official Languages||Nepali (lingua franca), Bhutia, Lepcha (since 1977), Limbu (since 1981), Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Tamang (since 1995) and Sunwar (since 1996)|
|Time Zone||IST (UTC+05:30)|
|Area||7096 km2 (2740 sq mi)|
Sikkim (Tibetan: 'bras ljongs; Denzong1; "Demojongs i.e. the Goodly Region, or Shikim, Shikimpati or Sikkim of the English and Indians…."2) is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas. It is the least populous state in India and the second-smallest state after Goa.3 This thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, the Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and the east and Bhutan in the southeast. The Indian state of West Bengal borders Sikkim to its south.4 Despite its small area of 7,096 km2 (2,740 sq mi), Sikkim is geographically diverse due to its location in the Himalayas. The climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine. Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, is located on the border of Sikkim with Nepal.5 Sikkim is a popular tourist destination owing to its culture, scenic beauty and biodiversity.
Legend has it that the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche visited Sikkim in the 9th century, introduced Buddhism and foretold the era of the monarchy. Indeed, the Namgyal dynasty was established in 1642. Over the next 150 years, the kingdom witnessed frequent raids and territorial losses to Nepalese invaders. It allied itself with the British rulers of India but was soon annexed by them. Later, Sikkim became a British protectorate and merged with India following a referendum in 1975.
Sikkim has 11 official languages: Nepali (lingua franca), Bhutia, Lepcha (since 1977), Limbu (since 1981), Newari, Rai, Gurung, Mangar, Sherpa, Tamang (since 1995) and Sunwar (since 1996).6 English is taught at schools and used in government documents. It is the only state in India with an ethnic Nepalese majority. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Gangtok is the capital and the largest town. Sikkim has a booming economy dependent on agriculture and tourism.
The most widely accepted origin of the name Sikkim is that it is a combination of two words in the Limbu Su, which means "new", and Khyim, which means "palace" or house, in reference to the palace built by the state's first ruler, Phuntsog Namgyal. The Tibetan name for Sikkim is Denjong, which means the "valley of rice".7 The Lepchas, original inhabitants of Sikkim called it Nye-mae-el or paradise, and the Bhutias call it Beymul Demazong, which means the hidden valley of rice.8 In Hindu religious texts, Sikkim is known as Indrakil, the garden of Indra.
Related Topic History of Sikkim
The earliest recorded event related to Sikkim is the passage of the Buddhist saint Guru Rinpoche through the land in the 8th century. The Guru is reported to have blessed the land, introduced Buddhism in Sikkim, and foretold the era of monarchy in the state that would arrive centuries later. In the 14th century, according to legend, Khye Bumsa, a prince from the Minyak House in Kham in Eastern Tibet, had a divine revelation one night instructing him to travel south to seek his fortunes. His descendants were later to form the royal family of Sikkim. In 1642, the fifth-generation descendant of Khye Bumsa, Phuntsog Namgyal, was consecrated as the first Chogyal (king) of Sikkim by the three venerated Lamas who came from the north, west and south to Yuksom, marking the beginning of the monarchy.
Phuntsog Namgyal was succeeded in 1670 by his son, Tensung Namgyal, who moved the capital from Yuksom to Rabdentse. 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 Gurkhas. Following Nepal's subsequent defeat, the Qing Dynasty established control over Sikkim.
Following the arrival of the British Raj in neighboring India, Sikkim allied with them against their common enemy, 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 returning 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 doctors, Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker and Dr. Archibald Campbell, the latter being in charge of relations between the British and Sikkim Government, ventured into the mountains of Sikkim unannounced and unauthorised. The doctors were detained by the Sikkim government, leading to a punitive British expedition against the Himalayan kingdom, after which the Darjeeling district and Morang were annexed to India in 1853. The invasion led to the Chogyal becoming a titular ruler under the directive of the British governor. In 1890, Sikkim became a British protectorate and was granted more sovereignty over the next three decades.
In 1947, a popular vote rejected Sikkim's joining the Indian Union, and Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru agreed to a special protectorate status for Sikkim. Sikkim came under the suzerainty of India, which controlled its external affairs, defence, diplomacy and communications, but Sikkim otherwise retained autonomy. A state council was established in 1955 to allow for constitutional government under the Chogyal. Meanwhile, the Sikkim National Congress demanded fresh elections and greater representation for the Nepalese. In 1973, riots in front of the palace led to a formal request for protection from India. The Chogyal was proving to be extremely unpopular with the people. In 1975, the Kazi (Prime Minister) appealed to the Indian Parliament for a change in Sikkim's status so that it could become a state of India. In April, the Indian Army took over the city of Gangtok and disarmed the Palace Guards. A referendum was held in which 97.5% of the voting people (59% of the people entitled to vote) voted to join the Indian Union. A few weeks later, on May 16, 1975, Sikkim officially became the 22nd state of the Indian Union and the monarchy was abolished.
In 2000, the seventeenth Karmapa Urgyen Trinley Dorje, who had been proclaimed a tulku by the atheist Chinese Communist party, escaped from Tibet 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 the Chinese still regarded as an independent state occupied by India. China eventually recognized Sikkim as an Indian state in 2003, on the condition that India accepted Tibet Autonomous Region as a part of China. This mutual agreement led to a thaw in Sino-Indian relations. New Delhi accepted Tibet as a part of China in 1953 during the government of then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. On July 6, 2006, the Himalayan pass of Nathula was opened to cross-border trade, further evidence of improving relations in the region.
The thumb-shaped state is characterized by wholly mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with an elevation ranging from 280 metres (920 ft) to 8,585 metres (28,000 ft). The summit of the Kangchenjunga is the highest point which falls on the border between Sikkim and Nepal.9 For the most part, the land is unfit for agriculture because of the precipitous and rocky slopes. However, certain hill slopes have been converted into farm lands using terrace farming techniques. Numerous snow-fed streams in Sikkim have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the state. These streams combine into the Teesta and its tributary, the Rangeet. The Teesta, described as the "lifeline of Sikkim", flows through the state from north to south. About a third of the land is heavily forested.
The Himalayan ranges surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim in a crescent. The Lower Himalayas 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 Lake, Gurudongmar and Khecheopalri Lake, 5 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 known for medicinal and therapeutic values. The most important hot springs are at Phurchachu (Reshi), Yumthang, Borang, Ralang, Taram-chu and Yumey Samdong. They have high sulphur content and are located near river banks. Some also 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, making their soil brown clay, and generally poor and shallow. The soil is coarse, with large amounts of iron oxide concentrations, ranging from neutral to acidic and has poor organic and mineral nutrients. This type of soil tends to support evergreen and deciduous forests.
Most of Sikkim is covered by Precambrian rock and is much younger in age than the hills. The rock consists of phyllites and schists and therefore the slopes are highly susceptible to weathering and prone to erosion. This, combined with the intense rain, causes extensive soil erosion and heavy loss of soil nutrients through leaching. As a result, landslides are frequent, isolating the towns and villages from the major urban centres.
The climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to tundra in the northern parts. The tundra-type region in the north is clad by snow for four months a year though the temperature drops below 0 °C (32 °F) almost every night. The peaks of north-western Sikkim are perpetually frozen. Most of the inhabited regions of Sikkim, however, witness a temperate climate, with the temperatures seldom exceeding 28 °C (82 °F) in summer or dropping below 0 °C (32 °F) in winter. The mean monthly temperature in summer is 15 °C. The state has five seasons: winter, summer, spring, and autumn, and a monsoon season between June and September. 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 20,000 feet in the north to 16,000 feet in the south. During the monsoon, heavy rains increase the possibility of landslides. The record for the longest period of continuous rain is 11 days. In the northern region, because of high altitude, temperatures drop below −40 °C (−40 °F) in winter. Fog also affects many parts of the state during winter and the monsoons, making transportation perilous.
Sikkim has four districts, each overseen by a Central Government appointee, the district collector, who is in charge of the administration of the civilian areas of the districts. The Indian army has control of a large territory, as the state is a sensitive border area. Many areas are restricted and permits are needed to visit them. There are eight towns and nine subdivisions in Sikkim.
The four districts are East Sikkim, West Sikkim, North Sikkim and South Sikkim. The district capitals are Gangtok, Geyzing, Mangan and Namchi respectively. These Four Districts are further divided into Subdivisions. "Pakyong" and "Rongli" are the subdivisions of the East District. "Soreng" is the subdivision of the West District. "Chungthang" is the subdivision of the North District. "Ravongla" is the subdivision of the South District.
Flora and fauna
Sikkim is situated in an ecological hotspot of the lower Himalayas, one of only three among the Ecoregions of India. The forested regions of the state exhibit a diverse range of fauna and flora. Owing to its altitudinal gradation, the state has a wide variety of plants, from tropical to temperate to alpine and tundra, and is perhaps one of the few regions to exhibit such a diversity within such a small area. Nearly 81% of the area of Sikkim comes under the administration of its forest department.
The flora of Sikkim include the rhododendron, the state tree, with a wide range of species occurring from subtropical to alpine regions. Orchids, figs, laurel, bananas, sal trees and bamboo grow in the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests of the lower altitudes of Sikkim, which enjoy a subtropical-type climate.
In the temperate elevations above 1,500 metres (4,900 ft) are Eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests, where oaks, chestnuts, maples, birches, alders, and magnolias grow in large numbers, as well as Himalayan subtropical pine forests, dominated by Chir pine.
The alpine-type vegetation is typically found between an altitude of 3,500 to 5,000 metres (11,500 to 16,400 ft). In lower elevations are found juniper, pine, firs, cypresses and rhododendrons from the Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests. Higher up are Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows, home to a broad variety of rhododendrons and wildflowers.
Sikkim has around 5,000 flowering plants, 515 rare orchids, 60 primula species, 36 rhododendron species, 11 oak varieties, 23 bamboo varieties, 16 conifer species, 362 types of ferns and ferns allies, 8 tree ferns, and over 424 medicinal plants. A variant of the Poinsettia, locally known as "Christmas Flower", can be found in abundance in the mountainous state. The orchid Dendrobium nobile is the official flower of Sikkim.
The fauna include the snow leopard, the musk deer, the Himalayan Tahr, the red panda, the Himalayan marmot, the serow, the goral, the barking deer, the common langur, the Himalayan Black Bear, the clouded leopard, the Marbled Cat, the leopard cat, the wild dog, the Tibetan wolf, the hog badger, the binturong, the jungle cat and the civet cat. Among the animals more commonly found in the alpine zone are yaks, mainly reared for their milk, meat, and as a beast of burden.
The avifauna of Sikkim consist of the Impeyan pheasant, the crimson horned pheasant, the snow partridge, the snow cock, the lammergeyer and griffon vultures, as well as golden eagles, quail, plovers, woodcock, sandpipers, pigeons, Old World flycatchers, babblers and robins. Sikkim has more than 550 species of birds, some of which have been declared endangered.
Sikkim also has a rich diversity of arthropods, many of which remain unstudied even today. As with the rest of India, the most studied group is that of the butterflies. Of approximately 1438 butterfly species found in the Indian subcontinent, 695 have been recorded from Sikkim. These include the endangered Kaiser-i-hind, Yellow Gorgon and the Bhutan Glory.
This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Sikkim at market prices estimated by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian Rupees.
|Year||Gross State Domestic Product|
Sikkim's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $478 million in current prices.
Sikkim's economy is largely agrarian. The British introduced terraced farming of rice, in addition to crops such as maize, millet, wheat, barley, oranges, tea and cardamom. Sikkim has the highest production and largest cultivated area of cardamom in India. Because of the hilly terrain, and lack of reliable transportation infrastructure, there are no large-scale industries. Breweries, distilleries, tanning and watchmaking are the main industries. These are located in the southern reaches of the state, primarily in the towns of Melli and Jorethang. The state has a high growth rate of 8.3%, which is the second highest in the country after Delhi.
In recent years, the government of Sikkim has extensively promoted tourism. As a result, the state revenue has increased 14 times since the mid-1990s.
A fledgling industry the state has recently invested in is gambling, including online gambling. A casino was opened in March 2009, the Casino Sikkim, and seven further casino licences are being considered by the state government. The Playwin lottery has been a commercial success and operates all over the country.. In October 2009 the government of Sikkim announced plans to offer three online sports betting licences. Among the minerals mined in Sikkim are copper, dolomite, talc, graphite, quartzite, coal, zinc and lead.
The opening of the Nathula Pass on July 6, 2006 connecting Lhasa, Tibet to India is expected to give a boost to the local economy, though the financial benefits will be slow to arrive. The pass, closed since the 1962 Sino-Indian War, was an offshoot of the ancient Silk Road, which was essential to the wool, fur and spice trade.
Sikkim does not have any airports or railheads because of its rough terrain, however, the first airport of the state is expected to be ready by 2011 in Pakyong, 30 km (19 mi) away from Gangtok. The closest airport, Bagdogra Airport, is near the town of Siliguri, West Bengal. The airport is about 124 km away from Gangtok. A regular helicopter service run by the Sikkim Helicopter Service connects Gangtok to Bagdogra; the flight is thirty minutes long, operates only once a day, and can carry 4 people. The Gangtok helipad is the only civilian helipad in the state.
New Sikkim Railway Project has been launched to connect rangpo town of sikkim with sevoke whic is expected to complete in 2015.
National Highway 31A and National Highway 31 together link Siliguri to Gangtok. The Sikkim National Transport runs bus and truck services. Privately-run bus, tourist taxi and jeep services ply throughout Sikkim and also connect it to Siliguri. A branch of the highway from Melli connects western Sikkim. Towns in southern and western Sikkim are connected to the northern West Bengal hill stations of Kalimpong and Darjeeling. The state is connected to China by Nathu La.
Related Topic Sikkimese People
The majority of Sikkim's residents are of Nepali ethnic-national origin who arrived in the 19th century. 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. Immigrant resident communities include the Biharis, Bengalis and Marwaris who own most of the shops in South Sikkim and Gangtok.
Hinduism is the major religion in the state, followed by Buddhism. Sikkim has 75 monasteries, the oldest dating back to the 1700s. The Christians are mostly Lepcha people who were converted by British missionaries since the late 19th century. Among other minorities are Muslims of Bihari ethnicity and Jains. Though tensions between the Lepchas and the Nepalese escalated during the merger of Sikkim with India, there has never been any communal violence, unlike most other states.
Nepali is the lingua franca of Sikkim. Bhutia and Lepcha are also common. English and Hindi are also spoken and understood in most of Sikkim. Other languages include Dzongkha, Groma, Gurung, Limbu, Magar, Majhi, Majhwar, Nepal Bhasa, Rai, Sikkimese, Sherpa, Sunuwar, Tamang, Thulung, Tibetan, and Yakha.
Sikkim is India's least populous state. In 2001 it had 540,851 inhabitants, with 288,484 males and 252,367 females. It is also one of the least densely populated states with only 76 persons per square kilometre. Its growth rate is 32.98% (1991–2001). The sex ratio is 875 females per 1000 males. With 50,000 inhabitants, Gangtok is the state's only significant town. The urban population in Sikkim is 11.06%. The per capita income stands at Rs. 11,356, which is one of the highest in the country.
Related Topic Music of Sikkim
The Sikkimese celebrate all major Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Dussera. Nepali festivals like Tihar and Bhimsen Puja are common. Losar, Loosong, Saga Dawa, Lhabab Duechen, Drupka Teshi and Bhumchu are Buddhist festivals. During the Losar (Tibetan New Year) most offices and educational institutions are closed for a week. Muslims celebrate Id-ul-fitr and Muharram. Christmas has also been promoted in Gangtok to attract tourists during the off-season.
Western rock music and Hindi songs have gained wide acceptance among the Sikkimese. Indigenous Nepali rock and Lepcha music are also popular. Common sports in Sikkim are Football and cricket. Hang gliding and river rafting have also been introduced in order to promote tourism.
Noodle-based dishes such as the thukpa, chowmein, thanthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common in Sikkim. Momos, steamed dumplings filled with vegetable, buff (buffalo meat) or pork and served with a soup, are a popular snack. Beer, whiskey, rum and brandy are widely consumed. Sikkim has the third highest per capita alcoholism rate amongst all Indian states, behind Punjab and Haryana.
Government and Politics
Related Topic Elections in Sikkim
Like all states of India, the head of the state government is a governor appointed by the Central Indian Government. His/her appointment is largely ceremonial, and his/her main role is to oversee the swearing in of the Chief Minister. The Chief Minister, who holds the real executive powers, is the head of the party or coalition garnering the largest majority in the state elections. The governor also appoints the cabinet ministers on the advice of the Chief Minister. Sikkim has a unicameral legislature like most other Indian states. Sikkim is allocated one seat in each of both chambers of India's national bicameral legislature, the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha. There are a total of 32 state assembly seats including one reserved for the Sangha. The Sikkim High Court is the smallest high court in the country.
The White Hall complex houses the residences of the Chief Minister and Governor of Sikkim.
In 1975, after the abrogation of Sikkim's monarchy, the Congress Party got the largest majority in the 1977 elections. In 1979, after a period of instability, a popular ministry headed by Nar Bahadur Bhandari, leader of the Sikkim Sangram Parishad Party was sworn in. Bhandari held on to power in the 1984 and 1989 elections. In the 1994 elections Pawan Kumar Chamling from the Sikkim Democratic Front became the Chief Minister of the state. The party has since held on to power by winning the 1999 and 2004 elections. It won all the 32 seats of the state assembly in 2009.
|State day||May 16 (day of accession to India)|
|State animal||Red Panda|
|State bird||Blood Pheasant|
|State flower||Noble orchid|
Although roads in Sikkim are often exposed to landslides and flooding by nearby streams, the roads are significantly better than the equivalent roads of other Indian states. The roads are maintained by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), an offshoot of the Indian army. The roads in South Sikkim and NH-31A are in good condition, landslides being less frequent in these areas. The state government maintains 1857.35 km of roadways that do not fall in the BRO jurisdiction.
Sikkim receives most of its electricity from 19 hydroelectric power stations. It has achieved 100% rural electrification. Power also obtained from the National Thermal Power Corporation and Power Grid Corporation of India. However the voltage is unstable and voltage stabilisers are needed. Per capita consumption of electricity in Sikkim is 182 kWh. The state government has promoted biogas and solar power for cooking but these have received a poor response and are used mostly for lighting purposes. 73.2% of the total households have access to safe drinking water, and the large number of streams assures sufficient water supply.
The southern urban areas have English, Nepali and Hindi dailies. Nepali language newspapers as well as some English newspapers are locally printed, whereas Hindi and English newspapers are printed in Siliguri. Important local dailies are the Samay Dainik, Sikkim Express (English), Sikkim Now (English), and Himalibela. The regional editions of English newspapers include The Statesman and The Telegraph, which are printed in Siliguri and available in the same day, as well as The Hindu and The Times of India, printed in Kolkata, which are received with a day's delay in the towns of Gangtok, Jorethang, Melli and Geyzing. Himalaya Darpan, a Nepali daily being published from Siliguri is one of the leading Nepali dailies 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, Journal of Hill Research, Khaber Khagaj, Panda, and Sikkim Science Society Newsletter are the registered publications in Bengali, Nepali, and English published out of Sikkim in weekly, quarterly, half-yearly, and annual periodicities.
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 the same available throughout India along with Nepali language channels. The main service providers are Dish TV, Doordarshan and Nayuma. The area is well serviced by local cellular companies.
Literacy in Sikkim is 69.68%, which breaks down into 76.73% for males and 61.46% for females. There are a total of 1157 schools, including 765 schools run by the State government, 7 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, Advanced Technical Training Centre (ATTC) and Centre for Computers and Communication Technology (CCCT) in Sikkim which offer diploma courses in various branches of engineering. ATTC is situated at Bardang, Singtam and CCCT at Chisopani, Namchi. Sikkim University a central university, began operating in 2008 at Yangang, which is situated about 28 km from Singtam. Many students, however, migrate to Siliguri, Kolkata, Bangalore and other Indian cities for their higher education.
- Evans, W.H. (1932) The Identification of Indian Butterflies. (2nd Ed), Bombay Natural History Society, Mumbai, India.
- Haribal, Meena (1992) Butterflies of Sikkim Himalaya and their Natural History. Sikkim Nature Conservation Foundation.
- Hooker, Joseph Dalton "Himalayan Journals" Ward, Lock, Bowden & Co. Assistant-director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
- Holidaying in Sikkim and Bhutan – published by Nest and Wings – ISBN 81-87592-07-9
- Sikkim — Land of Mystic and Splendour – published by Sikkim Tourism.
- Manorama Yearbook 2003 – ISBN 81-900461-8-7
- Strachey, H. (1854). "Physical Geography of Western Tibet." Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, Vol. XXIII, pp. 1–69, plus map.
- Official website of the Government of Sikkim, Maintained by Department of Information Technology
- "Details of the census". Archived from the original on 19 June 2006.
- Sinlung News
- Buddhist Monasteries of Sikkim
- China backs India's bid for U.N. Council seat; Amit Baruah; The Hindu 12 April 2005
- Sikkim Railway Link Project
- Historic India-China link opens, BBC News
- Sikkim at the Open Directory Project
- Sikkim travel guide from Wikitravel