Punjab, a region of northwestern India and northeastern Pakistan. It lies just south of the Himalayas and is bounded on the east by the Yamuna (Jumna) River, on the west by the Indus River, and on the south by the Thar Desert. Virtually all of the Punjab is occupied by the states of Punjab and Haryana in India and the province of Punjab in Pakistan.
The Punjab is a vast plain drained by the Indus system, mainly five tributaries—the Jhelum, Sutlej, Beas, Ravi, and Chenab rivers. (The name Punjabcomes from the Sanskrit word for “five rivers.”) Summers are generally hot, averaging 90° F. (32° C.); winter temperatures average 50° F. (10° C.). Rainfall normally is scanty and irregular. Rivers provide water for irrigation, and the Punjab is an important farming area. Textile production and food processing are the chief manufacturing industries. The largest city and capital of the Pakistani province is Lahore; the largest city in the Indian region is Amritsar, the holy city of the Sikhs.
The Punjab region was the center of prehistoric Indus Valley civilizations and was the entrance point into India for the Aryans and many invaders who followed them. The Punjab flourished under the Mogul Empire in the 17th century.
In the early 19th century the region became an independent domain of the Sikhs, a militant religious sect. In the Sikh Wars of the 1840's the British gained control of the area and made it the province of Punjab.
The province was divided between India and newly created Pakistan in 1947. The Pakistani section became a province while the Indian section was split into the territory of Himachal Pradesh and the state of Punjab. In 1966 Punjab was further split to create the predominantly Sikh state of Punjab and the predominantly Hindu state of Haryana. Himachal Pradesh became a state in 1971. During the early 1980's, there were serious clashes between Hindus and Sikhs in Indian Punjab.