The word Kashmir is thought to have been derived from Sanskrit and was referred to askáśmīra. A popular local etymology of Kashmir is that it is land desiccated from water. In the Kashmiri language, Kashmir itself is known as Kasheer.
The Government of India and Indian sources, refer to the territory under Pakistan’s control “Pakistan-occupied Kashmir” (“POK”). The Government of Pakistan and Pakistani sources refer to the portion of Kashmir administered by India as “Indian-occupied Kashmir” (“IOK”) or “Indian-held Kashmir” (IHK); The terms “Indian-administered Kashmir” and “Pakistani administered Kashmir” are often used by neutral sources for the parts of the Kashmir region controlled by each country.
In the first half of the first millennium, the Kashmir region became an important center of Hinduism and later of Buddhism. During the 7th-14th centuries, the region was ruled by a series of Hindu dynasties, and Kashmir Shaivism arose. In 1339, Shah Mir became the first Muslim ruler of Kashmir, inaugurating the Salatin-i-Kashmir or Shah Mir dynasty. The region was part of the Mughal Empire from 1586 to 1751, and thereafter, until 1820, of the Afghan Durrani Empire. Drafted by a treaty and a bill of sale, and constituted between 1820 and 1858, the Princely State of Kashmir and Jammu (as it was first called) combined disparate regions, religions, and ethnicities.
After the Indian Rebellion of 1857, in which Kashmir sided with the British, and the subsequent assumption of direct rule by Great Britain, the princely state of Kashmir came under the suzerainty of the British Crown.
In the British census of India of 1941, Kashmir registered a Muslim majority population of 77%, a Hindu population of 20% and a sparse population of Buddhists and Sikhs comprising the remaining 3%. “Under the Hindu rule, Muslims faced hefty taxation, discrimination in the legal system and were forced into labor without any wages. Conditions in the princely state caused a significant migration of people from the Kashmir Valley to Punjab of British India. For almost a century until the census, a small Hindu elite had ruled over a vast and impoverished Muslim peasantry. Driven into docility by chronic indebtedness to landlords and moneylenders, having no education besides, nor awareness of rights, the Muslim peasants had no political representation until the 1930s.
1947 and 1948
Ranbir Singh’s grandson Hari Singh, who had ascended the throne of Kashmir in 1925, was the reigning monarch in 1947 at the conclusion of British rule of the subcontinent and the subsequent partition of the British Indian Empire into the newly independent Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan.
In the last days of 1948, a ceasefire was agreed under UN auspices. However, since the plebiscite demanded by the UN was never conducted, relations between India and Pakistan soured, and eventually led to two more wars over Kashmir in 1965 and 1999.
Current status and political divisions
The region is divided amongst three countries in a territorial dispute: Pakistan controls the northwest portion (Northern Areas and Kashmir), India controls the central and southern portion(Jammu and Kashmir) and Ladakh, and the People’s Republic of China controls the northeastern portion (Aksai Chin and the Trans-Karakoram Tract).
India controls 101,338 km2 (39,127 sq mi) of the disputed territory, Pakistan controls 85,846 km2 (33,145 sq mi), and the People’s Republic of China controls the remaining 37,555 km2 (14,500 sq mi).
Though these regions are in practice administered by their respective claimants, neither India nor Pakistan has formally recognized the accession of the areas claimed by the other. India claims those areas, including the area “ceded” to China by Pakistan in the Trans-Karakoram Tract in1963, are a part of its territory, while Pakistan claims the entire region excluding Aksai Chin and Trans-Karakoram Tract. The two countries have fought several declared wars over the territory. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1947 established the rough boundaries of today, with Pakistan holding roughly one-third of Kashmir, and India one-half, with a dividing Line of Control established by the United Nations. The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 resulted in a stalemate and a UN-negotiated ceasefire.
The Kashmir region lies between latitudes 32° and 36° N, and longitudes 74° and 80° E. It has an area of 68,000 sq mi (180,000 km2). It is bordered to the north and east by China (Xinjiang and Tibet), to the northwest by Afghanistan (Wakhan Corridor), to the west by Pakistan (Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab) and to the south by India (Himachal Pradesh and Punjab).
Kashmir has a different climate for every region owing to the great variation of the level of the altitude. The temperature ranges from the tropical heat of the Punjab summer to the intensity of the cold which keeps the perpetual snow on the mountains. Jammu Division, excluding the upper parts of the Chenab Valley, features a humid subtropical climate. The Vale of Kashmir has a moderate climate. The Astore Valley and some parts of Gilgit-Baltistan feature asemi-Tibetan climate. While as the other parts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh have Tibetan climate which is considered as almost rainless climate. Southwestern Kashmir which includes much of the Jammu province and Muzaffarabad falls within the reach of Indian monsoon. The Pir Panjal Range acts as an effective barrier and blocks these monsoon tracts in reaching the main Kashmir Valley and the Himalayan slopes. These areas of the region receive much of the precipitation from the wind currents of the Arabian Sea.
Flora and fauna
Kashmir has a recorded forest area of 20,230 square kilometers (7,810 sq mi) along with some national parks and reserves. Kashmir forests range from the tropical deciduous forests in the foothills of Jammu and Muzaffarabad, to the temperate forests throughout the Vale of Kashmir and to the alpine grasslands and high-altitude meadows in Gilgit-Baltistan and Ladakh. Kashmir is referred as a beauty spot of the medicinal and herbaceous flora in the Himalayas. There are hundreds of different species of wildflowers recorded in the alpine meadows of the region.
The population of Indian-administered union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh combined is 12,541,302 and Pakistani-administered territory of Azad Kashmir is 2,580,000 and Gilgit-Baltistan is 870,347.
People in Jammu speak Hindi, Punjabi and Dogri, the Kashmir Valley speaks Kashmiri and the sparsely inhabited Ladakh speaks Tibetan and Balti.
Kashmir’s economy is centered around agriculture. Given its temperate climate, it is suited for crops like asparagus, artichoke, seakale, broad beans, scarlet runners, beetroot, cauliflower and cabbage. Fruit trees are common in the valley, and the cultivated orchards yield pears, apples, peaches, and cherries. The chief trees are deodar, firs and pines, chenar or plane, maple, birch and walnut, apple, cherry.
Historically, Kashmir became known worldwide when Cashmere wool was exported to other regions and nations (exports have ceased due to decreased abundance of the cashmere goat and increased competition from China). Kashmiris are well adept at knitting and making Pashmina shawls, silk carpets, rugs, kurtas, and pottery. Saffron, too, is grown in Kashmir. Srinagar is known for its silver work, papier-mâché, woodcarving, and the weaving of silk.