Gilgit Baltistan

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Gilgit Baltistan if formerly known as the northern areas, administered by federal government of Pakistan. This region is subjected to dispute between Pakistan and India just after the partition. British government gave authority to the public of this region to decide their fate, but the reality of rights of the people of this region was buried down just after the partially take over the region by India and Pakistan respectively.

Total area of Gilgit Baltistan is 72,971 km²

Population and area of districts

Gilgit Baltistan district wise population and area

No of divisions: two divisions; Gilgit and Baltistan

No of districts: 10 districts; Ghanche, Skardu, Shigar, Kharmang, Ghizer, Hunza, Nagar, Diamer, Gilgit and Astore (Click on hyperlinks to explore)

Gilgit Baltistan Map

Ghanche District

Ghanche District (Urdu: ضلع گانچھے‎) (Balti: གངས་ཅེ) is the easternmost district of Gilgit–Baltistan, Pakistan. With its administrative headquarters in the historic city of Khaplu, Ghanche is famous as a tourist destination for its outstanding scenery and high altitude landscapes.

The word Gang in Balti and means “glacier” and che is used as superlative term showing its abundance. It is locally used by natives of the Khaplu Valley for Ghanche Nallah (a Seasonal Stream) which flows in between the Khaplu town during summer season. When the Pakistani government gave it the grade of district, people of the valley selected the name of “Ghanche” willingly.

The Actual Ground Position Line (AGPL) at the easternmost part of Ghanche District is located across the Saltoro Ridge. Territory east of the AGPL is currently controlled by India including the entire Siachen Glacier. It has been proposed by moderates in Pakistan and India to make the Siachen Glacier region a Peace Park. Pakistan controls west of Saltoro Ridge.

The capital of Ghanche District is Khaplu.This region is the coldest place within Pakistan also called the “Third Pole” with temperatures reaching below -20 °C in the winter. Khaplu Valley and Hushe Valley form the gateway for the great Baltoro Muztagh, the subrange of Karakoram that includes the mighty peaks of K2 (8,611 m), Broad Peak (8,047 m), Gasherbrums (8,000+ m) and Masherbrum (7,821 m) (all of which are included in the Skardu District).

According to the Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2017, Ghanche is ranked 29 out of 141 districts in terms of education. For facilities and infrastructure, the district is ranked 118 out of 155.

Skardu District 

(Urdu: ضلع سکردو‎) is a district of Pakistan administered region of Gilgit–Baltistan. It is bounded on the southeast by Kargil district in the Jammu and Kashmir, on the east by Kharmang District, on the northeast by Ghanche district, on the south by Baramulla and Kargil District, on the west by district Astore and on the north by Shigar District. Skardu town is the capital of the district and of Skardu District.

The highest peak in Skardu District is K2 (8,611 m) which is the highest peak in Pakistan and the second highest peak on earth. The Baltoro Muztagh (the subrange of Karakoram that includes the mighty peaks of K2 (8,611 m), Broad Peak (8,047 m), Gasherbrum (8,000+ m) and Masherbrum (7,821 m) lie in the Skardu District. Askole is the last settlement in the district for all treks to Concordia (the confluence of Baltoro Glacier and Godwin-Austen Glacier). The Biafo Glacier and a major part of Hispar Glacier are also included in the Skardu District.

Deosai is one of the highest plains in the world. The district shares the territorial limits of Deosai National Park with Astore which has major portion, (second highest plains after Tibet). The Indus River enters the Gilgit–Baltistan territory from Ladakh. Skardu is predominantly Shia, here 98% people are Shia, 2% are Noorbakshia Islam and 2% are Sunni. Most of people are very simple and they don’t want to take complexity in life and they often use old living life style.

Kharmang District

Kharmang District is a political sub-division of Pakistan. It is part of Baltistan and currently constitutes one of the ten districts of the Gilgit–Baltistan territory of Pakistan. It is bounded on the south by the Kargil and Leh of Ladakh, on the northeast by Ghanche District of GB, on the north by Skardu District of GB and on the west by Astore District of GB.

Kharmang districts include Kharmang Valley, one of the five main valleys in Baltistan region. The valley is 100 km south-east of Skardu. The valley includes various tourist attractions, including Manthokha Waterfall Madhupur, Khamosh Waterfall. It is also the part where Indus River enters in Pakistan, through Kargil district in Indian Administered Kashmir.

Shigar District 

Shigar District (Urdu: ضلع شِگر‎) is an administrative sub-division of Gilgit-Baltistan, is part of Baltistan and currently constitutes one of the ten districts of the Gilgit–Baltistan territory of Pakistan. It is bounded on the south and southwest by Skardu district, on the east by Ghanche District, on the north by Xinjiang (China), on the northwest by and Hunza, Nagar, Gilgit Districts. The district was formed in 2015, prior to which it was part of the Skardu District.

Shigar town is the capital of Shigar District. Shigar town is 30km away from Skardu city. Shigar is the home of world’s second highest peak K-2.

Ghizer District

Ghizer District (Urdu: ضلع غذر‎) is the westernmost part of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. Its capital is Gahkuch. Ghizer is a crossroads between Gilgit and Chitral via Shandur Pass, and also to China and Tajikistan via the Broghil Pass through Ishkomen Valley . Ghizer is a multi-ethnic district and three major languages are spoken: Shina, Khowar, and Burushaski. There are also Wakhi speakers in Ishkoman and some Tajiks.

The word Ghizer came from the name “Gherz” which means “refugees” in Khowar. “Gherz” is a village in Golaghmuli Valley, which is now known as Golaghmuli. The Chitral in the Suzerainty of the British Raj forced some people to migrate towards Gupis, Yasin, Phander Ishkomen and also to Punial. They were settled in the area between Chitral and Gupis and the area called Gherz and the people were called Gherzic. When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto the President of Pakistan abolished the FCR system and gave another administrative district comprising the Tehsils (Political districts) the name Ghizer was given and agreed on unanimously.The then Resident and Commissioner for Gilgit and Baltistan, Ijlal Husain [ An Officer of the now defunct Civil Service of Pakistan- CSP] played an important role in creating this administrative division in 1974-75.

Ghizer District comprises Punial, Gupis, Yasen, Phander and Ishkoman Valleys. The major portion of its area was ruled over by Brooshay Rajas known as Raja Sha Burush, Khan Bahadur Issa Bahadur Akber Khan, Raja Anwar Khan, Raja Mirbaz Khan and last Broosh families Raja Jan Alam and Raja Muzafer (who was living in Golodass, also known as Anwerabad as its second name). Currently the living Raja families in the District have no administrative function but act as a leading role in the development of society. Their linkage goes back to Sha Burush. Sha Burush, Sha Katur, and Sha Khushwaqt are three brothers.

Historically two main characteristics of the folk dress of Ghizer is the Khoi and the Shokah. The khoi is headgear made of homespun woolen cloths, while the shokah is a homespun woolen cloak reaching to the ankle with long sleeves.

Historically the region has been ruled by ethnic Kho Rajas (Katoor, Brushay, Shins) indigenous to the region. They all lead tribes which were considered brothers but some Balti mehtars had also governed for some period in Mehraja’s period.The yashkun(Hakim) tribe also ruled for the long period which first led by Mehrban Shah up to 7th sterns. The longest period of rule was by Katur Dynasty and later it was divided between the Mehtar of Chitral and the Maharaja of Kashmir. After 1895 all of Ghizer was annexed to Gilgit Agency, which was directly ruled by the British Government and not by the Kashmiri people.

Tehsil Gupis is the central part of Ghizer district. There are many villages and lush green places, such as Shandur, Phunder Lake, Khalti Lake. The largest lake, Khalti, is famous for its trout. There are PTDC hotels available and also some private hotels in Ghahkuch.

According to the Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2015, Ghizer is ranked 10 out of 148 districts in terms of education. For facilities and infrastructure, the district is ranked 17 out of 148.

Hunza District 

Hunza District (Urdu: ضلع ہنزہ‎) is one of the districts of the Gilgit-Baltistan territory in northern Pakistan. It was established in 2015 by the division of Hunza–Nagar District in a bid to establish more administrative units in the region. Aliabad is the administrative centre of the district.

The Hunza district represents the northernmost region of the Indian subcontinent, adjoining China’s Xinjiang province. It contains the historic passes through the Karakoram mountains (Killik, Mintaka, Khunjeerab and Shimshal passes) through which trade and religion passed between India and Central Asia/China for centuries. The present day Karakoram Highway passes through the Khunjerab Pass to enter Xinjiang.

Historian Ahmad Hassan Dani has established that the Sakas (Scythians) used the Karakoram route to invade Taxila. The Sacred Rock of Hunza has petroglyphs of mounted horsemen and ibex, along with Kharosthi inscriptions that list the names of Saka and Pahlava rulers. The rock also contains inscriptions from the Kushan period, showing the Saka and Kushan suzerainty over the Hunza and Gilgit regions.

Hunza began to separate from the Gilgit region as a separate state around 997 AD, but decisive separation occurred with the establishment of the Ayash ruling family in the 15th century. The neighbouring Nagar state also separated in the same manner, and internecine battles between the two states were endemic. Following the invasion of Kashmir by the Moghul nobleman Mirza Haidar Dughlat, the Mir of Hunza established diplomatic relations with Kashgaria (based in Yarkand). After Kashgaria came under Chinese control, he continued the relations by paying an annual tribute of gold dust to the Chinese government in Yarkand. In return for this token tribute, Hunza enjoyed territorial rights in the Raskam Valley and grazing rights in Taghdumbash Pamir.

After the British suzerainty was established over the Kashmir region in 1846, the British made Hunza subject to the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Thus Hunza was in the anomalous position of being subject to two sovereign powers at the same time, immensely complicating the relations between British India and the Chinese empire. The practice of tribute to China was eventually stopped in 1930.

After the Partition of India into the present day India and Pakistan in 1947, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir acceded to India to in order to defend his State against a Pakistani tribal invasion. There was a rebellion in Gilgit, overthrowing the Maharaja’s authority. The Mir of Hunza subsequently acceded to Pakistan, but the accession was never formally accepted due to the Kashmir dispute in the United Nations. Pakistan regards the whole of Gilgit and Baltistan regions as de facto parts of Pakistan, even though India also claims the entire Kashmir region.


Nagar (Urdu: ضلع نگر‎) is a district located in Gilgit-Baltistan, which is the northernmost autonomus territory in Pakistan. It was established in 2015 by the division of Hunza–Nagar District in a bid to establish more administrative units in the region.

Diamer District 

Diamer District (Urdu: ضلع دیامر‎); also called Diamir district) is one of the districts of the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan. It is the district through which the Karakoram Highway passes. Capital of the district is Chilas.

Diamer District is bounded by Astore District in the east, by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the southwest (separated by the Babusar Pass or Babusar Top), Neelum District in the south, the Ghizer District in the north and northwest, and the Gilgit District in the north and northeast.

Prior to 2019, the Darel and Tangir districts were also part of the Diamer district. They have been made independent districts by the Government of Gilgit–Baltistan. According to the Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2015, Diamer is ranked 95 out of 148 districts in terms of education. For facilities and infrastructure, the district is ranked 127 out of 148. Before the Karakoram Highway was opened in 1978, the only road reaching Gilgit town from the south was a rough track north from Balakot to Babusar Pass (via Kaghan, Naran, Besal, and Gittidas) and further north through Babusar Gah to Chilas. The road up to Besal is now in better condition, but from Besal to Babusar Pass, the road is good with new carpeted road.

Gilgit District

(Urdu: ضلع گلگت‎) is one of the districts of the Gilgit–Baltistan territory in northern Pakistan. It was formed in 1970 when Gilgit–Baltistan was federally administered as the “Northern Areas”. It is bounded by the Wakhan Corridor (Afghanistan) to the north; Xinjiang (China) to the northeast and east; Skardu, Astore and Diamer to the south; and Ghizer District to the west. The town of Gilgit is the capital of Gilgit District. According to the 1998 census Gilgit District had a population of 243,324.

The district includes Gilgit (the capital city), the Bagrot Valley, Juglot, Danyore, Naltar Peak, and the Nomal Valley. The highest peak in the district is Distaghil Sar 7,885 metres (25,869 ft), which is the seventh-highest peak in Pakistan and 19th-highest on Earth. In 2009 the Pakistan’s People’s Party Government of Pakistan changed the status of the Northern Areas through a presidential ordinance and has renamed it as Gilgit–Baltistan. The present Governor is Mir Ghazanfar, who is the constitutional head of the de facto provincial setup, assisted by an executive Chief Minister – Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman – and a council of ministers.

Administration is by a tailor-made political and local government system. The local government system is based on a Legislative Council (Provincial Assembly), elected by people in all six districts through voting, and headed by a speaker. Technocrats and women members are later elected/selected through a proper system.

The Chief Secretary is the administrative head of all departments, controlling all the affairs on behalf of the Chief Minister Government of Pakistan.

An Inspector General of Police heads the police department, with deputy superintendents in all six districts.

The main judicial structure in Gilgit–Baltistan comprises a High Court, composed of three judges selected by the government, supported by the Supreme Appellate Court. According to the Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2015, Gilgit is ranked 35 out of 148 districts in terms of education. For facilities and infrastructure, the district is ranked 67 out of 148. Only a part of the basin of the Gilgit River, i.e. Gilgit Valley, is included within the political boundaries of Gilgit District. There is an intervening width of mountainous country, represented chiefly by glaciers and ice fields, and intersected by narrow sterile valleys, measuring some 100 metres (330 ft) to 150 metres (490 ft) in width, to the north and north-east, which separates the province of Gilgit from the Chinese frontier beyond the Muztagh and Karakoram. Towering above Gilgit is Mount Rakaposhi at 7,788 metres (25,551 ft).


Astore (Urdu: ضلع استور‎) is one of the ten districts of Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. The district contains the Astore Valley (with the town of Astore) and is bounded to the west by Diamer District (from which it was separated in 2004), to the north by Gilgit District, to the east by Skardu District and to the south by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Neelum District of Azad Kashmir. According to the 1998 census of Pakistan the population was 71,666. Astore is connected to Gilgit which is well connected by air with Islamabad and by road with Islamabad/Rawalpindi, Skardu and Chitral. It connects it with the Indian held Kashmir, Northwest connects with Azad Kashmir, in the East it connects with the Skardu, in the West it connects to outskirts of Chilas. There are two ways to access to Astore, first is via Deosai 143 kilometres (89 mi) from Skardu city, but it is can not be use from November to June due to heavy snowfall and second way, for all seasons, is via Jaglot 128 kilometres (80 mi) from Gilgit city.

Astore lies about the massive base of Nanga Parbat, the 9th highest peak in the world. To the south of the Nanga Parbat massif lies Rama Valley, which is home to Rama Lake, with basic facilities for visitors. It has a hotel called the PTDC, constructed by the government of Pakistan. Astore valley is a unique area for tourists to visit, surrounded by the high peaks of the far western Himalaya. Nearby the two river junction the village Louse, popular for apples, apricot, cherry and other fruits especially the wild almond oil. Louse a small village with literacy rate of about 95%, the only biggest power house for electricity supply up to 1000 kW to whole district approx since 1987, nearby Louse a peaks include Nanga Parbat, Shaigiri, Rupal Peak, Chongra Peak and Laila Peak (Rupal Valley). Astore Valley ascends from the Indus River Valley near Jaglot, Pakistan.. According to the Imperial Gazetteer of India, around 1600:

Ghāzī Mukhpun, a Persian adventurer, is said to have married a princess of the Skārdu reigning family. The four sons born of this union became Rās of Skārdu, Astor, Rondu, and Kharmang respectively, and from them are descended the families of the present chiefs of those places. The independence of Astor ceased at the Dogra conquest.

According to the Alif Ailaan Pakistan District Education Rankings 2015, Astore is ranked 32 out of 148 districts in terms of education. For facilities and infrastructure, the district is ranked 114 out of 148 and the first lady Governor of Pakistan (Gilgit-Baltistan) Dr. Shama Khalid belonged to Astore District.


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