A beautiful region of S Asia, Kashmir is covered with lofty, rugged mountains, including sections of the Himalayan and Karakorum ranges. Rivers, including the Indus, run through relatively narrow but heavily populated valleys. The valley of the Jhelum River, the celebrated Vale of Kashmir, is the most populous area and the economic heart of the region; it produces abundant crops of wheat and rice. The noted handicraft industry, particularly the making of woolen cloth and shawls (cashmeres) has declined. Tourism grew in importance during the 1960s but was adversely affected in Indian Kashmir by civil strife that began in the late 1980s. The state of Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state, is normally governed by a chief minister responsible to a bicameral legislature with one elected house and by a governor appointed by the president of India.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.