Gilgit Baltistan is an administrative territory of Pakistan, disputed by India that borders the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the west, Azad Kashmir to the southwest, Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan to the northwest, the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China to the north, and the Indian administrated region of Jammu and Kashmir to the south and southeast.

The early recorded history of the region is liked with Western Tibet and as vessel chiefs of the rulers of Leh, India. The region appears to be part of the Tibetan Empire, with Buddhism flourishing in the region. However, by the 12th-13th century, the region came under Islamic influence. This resulted in the separation of the Balti people from the Buddhist Ladakhi neighbors. The Baltis increasingly converted from Buddhism to Islam, resulting in increased interaction and conflict with their Kashmiri Muslim neighbours. Muslim rule in the area ended with the expansion of the Sikh Empire. After the British defeat of the Sikhs in the Anglo-Sikh wars, the region was ruled by the Hindu Dogras under British paramountcy. With the partition of India, the region became part of the newly formed state of Pakistan.

Gilgit-Baltistan covers an area of over 72,971 km2 (28,174 sq mi) and is highly mountainous. It had an estimated population of 1.249 million in 2013 (estimated as 1.8 million in 2015 by Shahid Javed Burki (2015)). Its capital city is Gilgit (population 216,760 est). Gilgit-Baltistan is home to five of the “eight-thousanders” and has more than fifty peaks above 7,000 metres (23,000 ft). Three of the world’s longest glaciers outside the polar regions are found in Gilgit-Baltistan. The main tourism activities are trekking and mountaineering, and this industry is growing in importance.

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