Uttarakhand, formerly Uttaranchal, state (2001 provisional pop. 8,479,562), 20,650 sq mi (53,483 sq km), N India. Situated in the Himalayas where many peaks top 20,000 ft (6,096 m), it is bordered by Tibet, China (NE), Nepal (SE), and the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh (SW), Haryana (W), and Himachal Pradesh (NW). At 25,645 ft (7,817 m), Nanda Devi is the state's highest point. The Ganges River has its source in the state's lofty mountains.
The capital is Dehradun; other cities include Haridwar and Garisand. The population is dominated by upper castes, who form some 60% of the residents. It also has a large percentage of hill tribes, and significant minorities of Sikhs, Muslims, and Buddhists (including immigrant Tibetans). Hindi and a number of Pahari languages are spoken.
Uttarakhand's eastern section combines dense forests with grassy hills and jungle. The overexploitation of this region's timber resources by outside contractors resulted in the nonviolent Chipko movement of the 1970s. Today, forest products remain an important resource. In addition, the state has considerable mineral wealth, and the many rushing rivers are potential sources for hydropower. Nonetheless, many of Uttarakhand's resources are scarcely developed, and migration out of the state to more developed parts of India has been an ongoing problem. There is some farming (mainly subsistence), dairying, and wool production.
Tourism is the region's mainstay, with many opportunities for mountain climbing and hiking. There are several spectacular hill station resorts such as Mussoorie and Nainital, and the mountains are also dotted with historic Hindu temples such as Badrinath and Gangotri, which are popular pilgrimage sites. In 2013 flash floods and landslides killed some 6,000 people in the state; many of those who died were pilgrims.
Originally named Uttaranchal when it was created in 2000 from the northwest portion of Uttar Pradesh, it acquired its present name in 2006. The state is governed by a chief minister and cabinet 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.