Himachal Pradesh is a beautiful hill state situated in the North India, in the lap of Western Himalayas. It is spread over 55, 673 sq km (21, 495 sq mi) approx. sharing borders with Jammu & Kashmir in the North, Tibet in the East, Uttaranchal in the South East, UP & Haryana in the South and Punjab in the South West. Shimla is the capital of the state.
The word Himachal is made up of two Sanskrit words (Him + Achal) ‘Him’ snow and ‘Achal’ mountain. So Himachal Pradesh literally in English means ‘Land of Snowy Mountains’. It is also popularly known as ‘Dev Bhumi’ meaning ‘Abode of Gods’.
Himachal Pradesh is mostly covered with thick forests and hilly slopes with terraced fields and numerous water channels like streams, rivers and rivulets flowing down its enchanting valleys. Himachal is rich in flora and fauna as more than 38% of the total area falls under forest cover. It is home to over 1200 species of birds and about 350 species of animals.
Majority of the state is mountainous with altitude ranging from 350 metres to 7000 metres approx. above sea level. Geographically Himachal Pradesh lies between 30′ 22′ 40″ North to 33′ 12′ 40″ North Latitude and 75′ 45′ 55″ East to 79′ 04′ 20″ East Longitude.
The state is divided into 12 districts and has 49 major towns with Shimla being the largest of them all. The total population of Himachal Pradesh is 68, 56,509 with gender ratio 974/1000 and has a literacy rate of 83.78% (2011 census). Major portion of Himachal’s population is rural and still resides in villages. The urban population accounts to less than 10% of the state’s total population.
Hinduism is the main religion as more than 95% of the state’s population constitutes of Hindus. All other religions collectively account for less than 5% of the total population, prominent among them are Buddhists, Sikhs and Muslims.