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(kăshmēr`, kăsh`mēr), region and former princely state, 85,714 sq mi (222,236 sq km), NW India, NE Pakistan, and SW China. Kashmir is bordered on the west by Pakistan, on the south by India, and on the north and east by China. The region is now divided into the Indian union territories of Jammu and Kashmir (2011 pop. 12,258,433), 16,309 sq mi (42,241 sq km), with its summer capital at SrinagarSrinagar
or Serinagar
, city (1981 est. pop. 588,000), Jammu and Kashmir, India, historic capital of Kashmir, on the Jhelum River. Situated in the Vale of Kashmir, Srinagar is one of the most beautiful summer resorts of Asia.
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 and its winter capital at JammuJammu
, city (1991 pop. 206,135), Jammu and Kashmir union territory, N India, on the Tawi River and in the Himalayan foothills. The winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir, it is strategically important as the southern terminus of a highway linking the Vale of Kashmir with the North
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, and Ladakh (2011 pop. 290,492), 22,836 sq mi (59,146 sq km), with its administrative headquarters at Leh; the Pakistani-controlled areas (1981 est. pop. 1,980,000) Azad Kashmir, 2,169 sq mi (5,619 sq km), with its capital at MuzaffarabadMuzaffarabad
, town, NW Kashmir, at the confluence of the Jhelum and Neelam rivers. It is the chief city and capital of Azad Kashmir, which is administered by Pakistan. Muzaffarabad is a trading center. Much of the city was destroyed by an earthquake in 2005.
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, and Gilgit-Baltistan, formerly the Northern Areas, 27,991 sq mi (72,496 sq km), with its capital at Gilgit; and the largely uninhabited Chinese-controlled areas, 16,481 sq mi (42,685 sq km), within Xinjiang and Tibet.

Land, Economy, and Government

A beautiful region of S Asia, Kashmir is covered with lofty, rugged mountains, including sections of the Himalayan and Karakorum ranges. Rivers, including the Indus, run through relatively narrow but heavily populated valleys. The valley of the Jhelum River, the celebrated Vale of Kashmir, is the most populous area and the economic heart of the region; it produces abundant crops of wheat and rice. The noted handicraft industry, particularly the making of woolen cloth and shawls (cashmeres) has declined. Tourism grew in importance during the 1960s but was adversely affected in Indian Kashmir by civil strife that began in the late 1980s. The union territory of Jammu and Kashmir has a unicameral legislature, but Ladakh does not; both have lieutenant governors appointed by the president of India.


In the late 14th cent., after years of Buddhist and Hindu rule, Kashmir was conquered by Muslims who converted most of the population. It became part of the MughalMughal
or Mogul
, Muslim empire in India, 1526–1857. The dynasty was founded by Babur, a Turkic chieftain who had his base in Afghanistan. Babur's invasion of India culminated in the battle of Panipat (1526) and the occupation of Delhi and Agra.
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 empire in 1586, but by 1751 the local ruler was independent. After a century of disorder the British pacified Kashmir in 1846 and installed a Hindu prince as ruler of the predominantly Muslim region.

When India was partitioned in 1947, Muslim forces from Pakistan invaded Kashmir. The Hindu ruler fled to Delhi and there agreed to place Kashmir under the dominion of India; the region was given semiautonomy. Indian troops were flown to Srinagar to engage the Pakistani forces. The fighting was ended by a UN cease-fire in 1949, but the region was divided between India and Pakistan along the cease-fire line. A constituent assembly in Indian Kashmir voted in 1953 for incorporation into India, but this was delayed by continued Pakistani-Indian disagreement and UN disapproval of the disposition of any portion of the region without a plebiscite. In 1955, India and Pakistan agreed to keep their respective forces in Kashmir 6 mi (10 km) apart.

A new vote by the assembly in Indian Kashmir in 1956 led to the integration of Kashmir as an Indian state; Azad Kashmir remained, however, under the control of Pakistan. India refused to consider subsequent Pakistani protests and UN resolutions calling for a plebiscite. The situation was complicated in 1959, when Chinese troops occupied the Aksai Chin section of the district of Ladakh. Indian-Pakistani relations became more inflamed in 1963 when a Sino-Pakistani agreement defined the Chinese border with Pakistani Kashmir and ceded Indian-claimed territory to China.

Serious fighting between India and Pakistan broke out again in Aug., 1965. A UN cease-fire took effect in September. In Jan., 1966, President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri of India met at Tashkent at the invitation of the Soviet government and agreed to the mutual withdrawal of troops to the positions held before the latest outbreak. In the Dec., 1971, war between India and Pakistan, India made some gains in fighting in Kashmir. In Dec., 1972, a new cease-fire line along the positions held at the end of the 1971 war was agreed to by India and Pakistan.

In the late 1980s, Muslim resistance to Indian rule escalated, with some militants supporting independence and others union with Pakistan. A rigged election (1987) sparked violence, and the legislature was subsequently suspended. In 1990 direct presidential rule was imposed. Plans to hold elections in 1995 were abandoned following the burning of an important Muslim shrine and its surrounding town and riots in Srinagar. Fighting again erupted in May, 1999, when India launched air strikes and then ground action against infiltrators from Pakistan. After heavy losses on both sides, a cease-fire was reached in mid-July.

Kashmiri legislation restoring the state's pre-1953 autonomy and negotiations betweeen India and one of the Muslim militant groups proved short-lived in 2000. Kashmir guerrilla attacks in 2002 threatened to spark a broader conflict between India and Pakistan. Despite such attacks, credible elections were held in October, leading to a new government that favored negotiating with the separatists; subsequent elections have also been generally credible, though separatists have boycotted the polls and there have at times been clashes associated with the voting. In 2005 bus service between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir was established for the first time since partition; the move, which led to attacks by militants opposed to it, was intended to help normalize relations.

Kashmir, especially the Pakistani section, was hard-hit by an earthquake in Oct., 2005. Of the tens of thousands of deaths in Kashmir, more than 95% of them occurred in Pakistan. Border-crossing restrictions were eased following the quake to facilitate relief efforts. Improved relations between Pakistan and India lessened the violence in Kashmir, but since 2008 there has been an upsurge in protests and demonstrations by proindependence Muslims and often violent confrontations between security forces and civilian protesters, recurring conflict with Muslim rebels, and generally increased Hindu-Muslim tensions in the region (aggravated in part by increased Hindu nationalism in India generally). Clashes along the Indo-Pakistani border also increased. In 2012 a nonbinding Indian mediation panel report was critical of the military's harsh rule but rejected autonomy for Kashmir. An estimated 70,000 people have been killed in Kashmir since 1989.

In 2019 the Indian government abolished the constitutionally guaranteed semiautonomous status of Jammu and Kashmir, and divided it into two federally administered union territories, creating the newly established Ladakh from the eastern districts of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time the Indian government imposed a severe military clamp down on the area and restricted communications. Many of the restrictions continued into 2020, when when the supreme court ruled that indefinite Internet shutdowns were illegal and called for a review of government restrictions imposed on Kashmir.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a historical region in Asia, at the juncture of the Himalayas and Tibet. In ancient times and during the Middle Ages the area of Kashmir was part of various states that existed on the territory of Hindustan. In 1586, Kashmir became a part of the Mogul Empire. In 1756 it was captured by the Afghans; in 1819, by the Sikhs. Conquered during the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845–46) by the British colonizers, Kashmir was transferred by them in 1846 to the rajah of the principality of Jammu for compensation of 7.5 million rupees. The rajah was recognized as maharajah of the principality of Jammu and Kashmir. Feudal exploitation, along with national and religious discrimination, led to several uprisings by the Kashmiris, the most important of which occurred in 1931–33 and 1946.

After the formation in August 1947 of the two sovereign states of India and Pakistan, both of them attempted to annex Kashmir. On Oct. 22, 1947, an invasion of Kashmir was begun by armed Pathan tribes from Pakistan; the maharajah turned to India for aid and declared Kashmir’s desire to be included in the Indian Federation. His request for aid was granted, and a charter of annexation of Kashmir by India was signed on Oct. 27, 1947. On Jan. 1, 1948, India addressed a complaint against Pakistan to the UN Security Council, accusing the former of aggression in Kashmir. On Jan. 15, 1948, Pakistan lodged a complaint against India with the Security Council. A mediation commission of five countries was created by the Security Council. By Jan. 1, 1949, military operations in Kashmir had ceased, and on July 27 a cease-fire line was established. The western and north western parts of Kashmir came under the control of Pakistan, and the remaining (greater) part was left to India.

The Delhi Agreement between the maharajah of Kashmir and India, according to which Kashmir became a part of India with the status of a state (Jammu and Kashmir), was signed in July 1952. On Nov. 17, 1956, the Constituent Assembly of Kashmir adopted a constitution for Kashmir, the third article of which declares that Kashmir “is and remains a component part of the Indian Federation.” Proceeding from this point, the government of India considers the question of Kashmir’s inclusion in the country of India to be finally resolved. The government of Pakistan insisted on a referendum in Jammu and Kashmir on the question of the annexation of the territory by India or Pakistan.

Several discussions of the Kashmir question in the UN and Indian-Pakistani bilateral negotiations on Kashmir in 1955, 1960, 1962, and 1963 were fruitless. The armed conflict that began in September 1965 between India and Pakistan was halted through the efforts of peace-loving countries, above all the USSR. At a meeting of the leaders of India and Pakistan held in Tashkent on Jan. 4–10, 1966 (in which the chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR took part), a declaration was signed that opened up prospects for the normalization of relations between India and Pakistan.

In December 1971 an armed conflict again took place between India and Pakistan in the course of which the cease-fire line in Kashmir was violated in several areas. At a conference of the leaders of India and Pakistan on June 30–July 3, 1972, in Simla, an agreement was signed according to which both sides promised to resolve by peaceful means the disputed questions existing between them. At the Indian-Pakistani negotiations of August 1972 in Delhi the two sides established a new control line in Kashmir to replace the previous cease-fire line. The demarcation of the line was completed by representatives of the military commands of both countries in December 1972.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


a region of SW central Asia: from the 16th century ruled by the Moguls, Afghans, Sikhs, and British successively; since 1947 disputed between India, Pakistan, and China; 84 000 sq. km (33 000 sq. miles) in the northwest are held by Pakistan and in part known as Azad Kashmir (Free Kashmir), part as the Northern Areas; an area of 42 735 sq. km (16 496 sq. miles) in the east (the Aksai Chin) is held by China; the remainder was in 1956 officially incorporated into India as the state of Jammu and Kashmir; traversed by the Himalaya and Karakoram mountain ranges and the Rivers Jhelum and Indus; a fruit-growing and cattle-grazing region, with a woollen industry. Capitals: (Jammu and Kashmir) Srinagar (summer), Jammu (winter); (Azad Kashmir) Muzaffarabad; (Northern Areas) Gilgit
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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