Uttarakhand is a state located in the northern part of India. It was known as Uttaranchal between 2000 and 2006, Uttarakhand became the 27th state of the Republic of India on November 9, 2000.
Uttarakhand borders Tibet to the north, Nepal to the east, and the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh (of which it formed a part before 2000) in the west and south respectively. The region is traditionally referred to as Uttarakhand in Hindu scriptures and old literature, a term which derives from the Sanskrit for Northern Country or Section.
In January 2007, the name of the state was officially changed from Uttaranchal, its interim name, to Uttarakhand, according to the wishes of a large section of its people. The provisional capital of Uttarakhand is Dehradun which is also a rail-head and the largest city in the region. The small hamlet of Gairsen has been mooted as the future capital owing to its geographic centrality but controversies and lack of resources have led Dehradun to remain provisional capital. The High Court of the state is in Nainital.
Uttarakhand has a total geographic area of 51,125 km², of which 93% is mountainous and 64% is covered by forest. Most of the northern parts of the state are part of Greater Himalaya ranges, covered by the high Himalayan peaks and glaciers, while the lower foothills were densely forested till denuded by the British log merchants and later, after independence, by forest contractors. Recent efforts in reforestation, however, have been successful in restoring the situation to some extent. The unique Himalayan ecosystem plays host to a large number of animals (including bharal, snow leopards, leopards and tigers), plants and rare herbs. Two of India’s mightiest rivers, the Ganga and the Yamuna take birth in the glaciers of Uttarakhand, and are fed by myriad lakes, glacial melts and streams in the region.
Uttarakhand lies on the south slope of the mighty Himalaya range, and the climate and vegetation vary greatly with elevation, from glaciers at the highest elevations to tropical forests at the lower elevations. The highest elevations are covered by ice and bare rock. The Western Himalayan Alpine Shrub and Meadows ecoregion lies between 3000-3500 and 5000 meters elevation; tundra and alpine meadows cover the highest elevations, transitioning to Rhododendron-dominated shrublands below. The Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests lie just below the tree line; at 3000-2600 meters elevation they transition to the Western Himalayan broadleaf forests, which lie in a belt from 2,600 to 1,500 meters elevation. Below 1500 meters elevation lies western end of the drier Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands belt, and the Upper Gangetic Plains moist deciduous forests. This belt is locally known as Bhabhar. These lowland forests have mostly been cleared for agriculture, but a few pockets remain.
There are 13 districts in Uttarakhand which are grouped into two divisions. Garhwal division includes Chamoli, Dehradun, Haridwar, Pauri Garhwal (commonly known as Garhwal), Rudraprayag, Tehri Garhwal and Uttarkashi whereas Kumaon division includes Almora, Bageshwar, Champawat, Nainital, Pithoragarh, and Udham Singh Nagar.
Important minerals occurring in the state are high grade limestone in Almora, Dehradun, Nainital, Pauri-Garhwal, Pithoragarh and Tehri-Garhwal districts; magnesite and talc/steatite/soapstone in Almora, Bageshwar, Chamoli and Pithoragarh districts; and tungsten in Almora district.
Other minerals that occur in the state are asbestos in Chamoli district; barytes and marble in Dehradun district; copper in Almora, Dehradun and Pithoragarh districts; dolomite in Dehradun, Nainital and Tehari-Garhwal districts; graphite in Almora district; gypsum in Dehradun and Pauri-Garhwal districts; lead-zinc and silver in Dehradun and Pithoragarh districts; and rock phosphate in Dehradun and Tehri-Garhwal districts.