Sikkim, an Indian state in the Himalayas. It is bounded by Bhutan, the Indian state of Bihar, Nepal, and the Chinese province of Tibet. Sikkim has an area of 2,744 square miles (7,107 km 2). It consists primarily of high, snowcapped mountains separated by deep valleys. The loftiest peak, 28,208-foot (8,598-m) Kanchenjunga, lies on the Nepalese border. The only large river is the Tista, a tributary of the Brahmaputra. On the Tibetan border is Natu Pass, a key route between eastern India and Tibet. Sikkim's climate varies from subtropically warm and humid in the valleys to extremely cold in the high mountains.
The Sikkimese live mainly by raising livestock, including yak, and grains and fruits. The only industry is of the handicraft type. There are a few good roads, but in general transportation is poorly developed.
In 1991 Sikkim had a population of 406,457; Gangtok, the capital and largest town, had a population of 24,971. About three-fourths of the people are of Nepalese origin. The rest are mainly Lepchas (the indigenous inhabitants) and Bhotias from Tibet. Nepali and several Tibeto-Burman languages are spoken. Lamaism is the faith of the Lepchas and the Bhotias, Hinduism the faith of the Nepalis.
Sikkim's governor is appointed by the president of India. There is an elective legislative assembly.
Little is known of Sikkim's history before the 17th century, when Bhotias from Tibet and Lepchas established a government headed by a maharaja. Sikkim was dominated by Tibet until Great Britain extended its control into the country from India during the 1800's. After about 1870, Nepalis migrated into Sikkim and eventually became the country's largest ethnic group. However, the Bhotias and the Lepchas continued to dominate the government. A treaty in 1950 made Sikkim a protectorate of India. In 1965 the maharaja declared himself chogyal (king). In 1975 India annexed Sikkim and abolished the monarchy.