Small but beautiful, Sikkim situated in the Eastern Himalayas spread below the world’s third highest mountain Kangchendzonga (8585m) revered by the Sikkimese as their protective deity. Sikkim is separated by the Singalila range from Nepal in the west, Chola range from Tibet in the northeast and Bhutan in the southeast. Rangit and Rangpo rivers form the borders with the Indian state of West Bengal in the south.
Though measuring just 65 Km by 115 Km- the size of Switzerland it ranges from sweltering deep valleys a mere three hundred meters above sea level to lofty snow peaks such as Kangchendzonga . On its west side is the massive 31 Km long Zemu glacier. Various explorers and mountaineers have claimed to have seen Yeti or its foot prints in the vicinity of the mountain and its glacier- “The abominable snowman” has its place in folklore. Sikkim’s botanical and zoological affluence is truely impressive. The varities of bords and butterflies in Sikkim is matched only by incredible diversity in the animal and botanical world, nourished by unique and dramatic geographical features.
Sikkim is a very small hilly state in the Eastern Himalayas, extending approximately 114 Kms from north to south and 64Kms from east to west, surrounded by vast stretches of Tibetan Plateau in the North, Chumbi Valley of Tibet and the kingdom of Bhutan in the east, Darjeeling district of West Bengal in the south and the kingdom in Nepal in the west . The state being a part of inner ranges of the mountains of Himalayaa has no open valley and no plains but caried elevations ranging from 300 to 8583 mtrs above means sea level consisting of lower hill, middle and higher hills, alpine zones and snow bound land, the highest elevation 8583 mtrs. being the top of the Mt. Kangchendzonga itself.
History and people
Sikkim is a multi-ethnic state. Broadly, the population can be divided into tribal and non-tribal groups. Lepchas, Bhutias, Sherpas are categorized as Scheduled Tribes. The Lepchas are the original inhabitants of the state. Compared to other ethnic groups, the Lepchas still maintain many of their traditional ways. The Bhutias comprise, the sikkimese Bhutia and Bhutia from Bhutan and Tibet. The Sherpas are a marginal ethnic group in the state. over 70% population consist of Nepalese. They are dominant ethnic group in the state. The people from the plain, mostly involed in trade and services represent a marginal group. As per the 1991 census of India, the total population of the state is 406457, whereas in 1981 it was 3,16,385 only. Dicennial growth has come down, as in 1971-81 it was 50.77% where as for 1981-91 it is 28.47% only. The overall density of population in the state is 57 per sq. Km. East district is the most populated where as North’s density only 7, is least populated. Sex ratio ( females per thousand male) in 1981 was 835, where as it has improved and now is 878. There are only eight urban towns and urban population is 9.10% of total population. Schedule caste and schedule tribe population is 5.93 % and 22.36% respectively, North district is a tribal district and it has about 55.38% tribal population. Literacy rate is 56.94% (19th position), higher than the all India average literacy tare of 52.11%.
The economy of Sikkim is mainly based on agricultural and animal hushandry. Approx. 11% of the total geographical area is under agriculture. agriculture is of the mixed type and still at the subsistence level rather than commercial level. The work force participation rate as per 1991 census is 40.44%. The femal participation rate in Sikkim is also much higher than the national average. This is an important aspect if the hill economy, as productivity is low and hence all the able-bodied people are employed in agriculture and other activities. Cultivators account for the greater majority of the people in the state. their percentage is 57.84%. Agricultural labourers as a whole constitute only 7.81% of the workers in the state. house holds and other industries are negligible, but other worker(Tertiary Sector) at the state level represent a good percentage of population. The decreasing ratio of worker at the state level indicates the low level of economic diversification. The importance of agriculture can be judged by the high percentage of population approx. 65% engaged in it. Animal husbandry is an integral part of the house hold economy of the region. There are certainhouse hold industries also which substantially adds to house hold incomes. The past one and half decade has witnessed a tremendous upward swing in various development programme giving a new thrust to the Sikkim economy. This process has increased wage employment opportunities. Though most of the inhabitants are basically agriculture, they have diversified into tertiary jobs such as Government services.
The unspoilt natural beauty of Yumthang Valley in North Sikkim at an altitude of over12,000 ft. (a paradise visitors say is grander than Switzerland), the lush terraced valleys and peaceful lakes of West Sikkim, the cascading waterfalls, rare orchids, birds & butterflies, the serene monasteries that rise above the mist and the rich cultural heritage make Sikkim the destination for the visitor in search of peace & tranquility in the Himalayas. Travelling on the serpentine roads of Sikkim is fascinating experience. There are roads to every nook & corner of the state. Even seemingly inaccessible places (specially in North Sikkim near Chinese border) have been covered by roads, built and maintained by the Border Roads Organisation. Most of these roads are necessary for defence needs near the border.
All foreigners entering Sikkim require an Inner Line Permit (ILP). All Indians require an ILP to visit Tsango Lake & North Sikkim. All foreigners wanting to visit North Sikkim can only do so in groups of four.