Himachal Pradesh (hĭmäˈchəl prədāshˈ) [key], state (2001 provisional pop. 6,077,248), 21,629 sq mi (56,019 sq km), NW India, in the W Himalayas, bordered by the Tibet region of China on the east. Shimla is the capital. The state is covered with forested mountains, and the valleys are extensively cultivated. The forests have supplied large quantities of timber and wood products, but severe deforestation has led to a tree-planting program and the cessation of live tree-cutting. The emphasis in recent years is toward the protection of watersheds for future hydroelectric development. Potatoes, wheat, and corn are grown, as are most of India's apples, peaches, and apricots. Salt is mined and handicrafts are made. Pahari-speaking Hindus inhabit the lower hill area; peoples of Tibetan origin live in the high mountain regions.
Himachal Pradesh was formed as a union territory in 1948 by the merger of 30 former Punjabi princely states. The small state of Bilaspur was merged with it in 1954. In 1966 five more districts and parts of two others from Punjab were added to the territory. Himachal Pradesh became a state in 1971. It is governed by a chief minister and cabinet responsible to an elected unicameral legislature and by a governor appointed by the president of India.