Sikkim is a small mountain state in the eastern Himalayas. It was an independent kingdom ruled by the Chogyals (kings) until 1975. Sikkim is barely 7,096 sq km in area. Bounded by Tibet in the north, Nepal in the west, Bhutan in the east and the state of West Bengal in the south, it is the least populous state in the Indian union. Gangtok, the capital of Sikkim, is situated at a height of over five-thousand feet above sea level.
Nepali is the official language of Sikkim. English and
Hindi are also understood in urban areas. Other languages are Tibetan, Bhutia and Lepcha.
Hinduism is the predominant faith in Sikkim. Other religions present are Christianity, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam. Dussehra, falling in the month of October, is an important festival celebrated. The state’s economy is basically agrarian. Maize, rice, wheat, potato, large cardamom, ginger and orange are the principal crops.
Geography is dominated by the majestic mountain chain, the Khangchendzonga. It is the world's third highest mountain and is worshipped as the guardian deity of the land. The other two principle mountain ranges are the
Singilela and Chola. Between these ranges are the principal rivers, the Rangit and the Teesta. The climate of the state can be roughly divided into tropical, temperate and alphine zones.
The Government has established many parks and sanctuaries with a view to protect the rich flora and fauna of the state from the poacher. The largest of these is the Khangchendzonga National Park, which encompasses an area of 1,784 sq km. Sikkim offers several treks that lead through pine forests and picturesque valleys. The state is also a base for mountaineering expeditions and excellent river rafting.