Sikkim

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The Rajadom of Sikkim
Denzong འབྲས་ལྗོངས།
Flag Sikkim Roundel.PNG
state flag roundel
200px
map of Sikkim
Motto ?
?
National Anthem  ?
Cities
Capital Gangtok
Cities/Districts Darjeeling, Gangtok, Geyzing, Kalimpang, Karsigung, Mangan, Namchi, Siliguri
Government constitutional monarchy
Legislature
Unicameral National Assembly
Head of State and Government His Royal Highness Chogyal Wangchuk Namgyal
Demonym Sikkimese
Formation
First chogyal 1642
League of Nations 1964
Himalayan Confederacy 1975
Constitution 5 October 1970
Area 10,293 km²
3,974 mi²
Population ~650,000 (2015)
Ethnicities Bhutia 53%
Lepcha 25%
Limbu 12%
Nepali 10%
Languages
Official Bhutia, Lepcha
Other Nepali
Religions
Official Nyingma Buddhism 79%
Other Shaivism 14%
Lepcha shamanism 7%
Currency 1 Himalayan Rupee (Rs) = 20 sukaa (s) = 240 paisa (p)
ISO Code DNZ
Time zone UTC +6:00
DST not observed
Telephone Code 440
Registration
Aviation DNZ
Amateur radio DNZ
Radio prefix DNZ
Organizations League of Nations
Commission on Very Small States
Himalayan Confederacy
Sports
Official soccer
Other cricket

Contents

History

History of Sikkim

The Namgyal Rajas of Sikkim

Toponymy

The most widely accepted origin of the name Sikkim is that it is a combination of two words in the Limbu language, su, meaning "new", and khyim, meaning "palace" or "house". This refers to the palace built by the rajadom's first ruler, Phuntsog Namgyal. The name for Sikkim in Tibetan is Denjong, which means the "valley of rice". The name in Lepcha is Nye-mae-el, meaning "paradise", and in Bhutia it is Beymul Demazong, meaning "hidden valley of rice".


Government

Constitution

Provinces

  • Sikkim has five provinces, dzongdey, each overseen by an elected official, the ponlop, who is in charge of the administration of the province.
  • There are thirteen prefectures, dzongkhag, each overseen by an elected official, the dzongpon, who is in charge of the administration of the prefecture.
  • There are numerous villages.
Province
dzongdey
Capital Area Population Prefecture
dzongkhag
Notes
Mangan (M) Mangan 4,226 km²
1,632 mi²
41,000 Mangan (MM) Lepchas, Bhutias - Paved road to Gangtok - entry to the Tibetan plateau - cardamom capital - home of the red panda.
Gangtok (G) Gangtok 1,830 km²
707 mi²
440,000 Gangtok (GG)
Namchi (GN)
Geyzing (GZ)
Lepchas, Bhutias - Nathula Pass is link to Lhasa and the Silk Road
Darjeeling (D) Darjeeling 3,149 km²
1,216 mi²
1,605,000 Darjeeling (DD)
Kalimpang (DK)
Karsiyang (DR)
Siliguri (DS)
Lepchas, Bhutias - Darjeeling tea
Mechi (M) Mechi 8,196 km²
3,164 mi²
1,306,000 Ilam (MI)
Jhapa (MJ)
Panchthar (MP)
Taplejung (MT)
Limbus, Rais
Yatung (Y) Yatung 4,306 km²
1,663 mi²
10,000 Yatung (YY) Tibetans

Thus, the total area of the rajadom is 21,707 km² (8,381 mi²), between *here's* El Salvador and Israel.

Borders

  • Sikkim is bordered by on the
    • North: Tibet
    • East: Tibet, Bhutan, Bangal
    • South: Bangal
    • West: Bangal, Nepal
  • The episode surrounding the sale of Darjeeling to the British East India Company in 1835 did not take place *there* so that Darjeeling remains a part of the Rajadom of Sikkim. Thus, the rajadom is contiguous with *here's* Indian state of Sikkim and the Darjeeling District of the State of West Bengal.


Physical description

Geography

  • The rajadom is characterized by mountainous terrain in the northern four prefectures. Elevations range from 280 metres (920 ft) to 8,585 metres (28,000 ft). Kangchenjunga, the world's third-highest peak, is located on the border of Sikkim with Nepal. For the most part, the land is unfit for agriculture because of the precipitous and rocky slopes. However, certain hill slopes have been converted into farm lands using terrace farming techniques.
  • Nepal lies in the Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows, an area of 121,300 square kilometres (46,800 sq mi), extending along the north and south faces of the Himalaya Range from the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Lo eastwards through Tibet, Sikkim, Bhutan, and on into India's Arunachal Pradesh state, and northernmost Myanmar.
  • The alpine shrub and meadows lie between approximately 4,000 and 5,500 metres (13,000 and 18,000 ft) elevation. Permanent ice and snow lie above 5,500 metres (18,000 ft). The Eastern Himalayan subalpine conifer forests lie below 3,000 metres (9,800 ft) along the southern slopes of the range, from Lo to Bhutan.
  • The Tista River, known as the "lifeline of Sikkim", originates at Cholamo Lake, the most sacred lake in Tibet, at an altitude of 5,330 m. The river is then fed by numerous snow-fed streams which have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the rajadom. The river then flows past the village of Rangpo where it forms part of the the border between ??? and ???. At Kalimpong the river is met by its main tributary, the Rangit River. At this point, it changes course southwards flowing entirely into Bangal. The river meets the plains at Sevok and finally merges with the mighty Brahmaputra.
  • About a third of the land is heavily forested. The Himalayan ranges surround the northern, eastern and western borders of Sikkim in a crescent. The Lower Himalayas in the southern reaches of the rajadom are the most densely populated. The rajadom has 28 mountain peaks, more than 80 glaciers, a number of hot springs, and more than 100 rivers and streams. Eight mountain passes connect the rajadom to Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal.
  • Sikkim's hot springs are known for medicinal and therapeutic values. They have a high sulphur content and are located near river banks. Some also emit hydrogen. The average temperature of the water in these hot springs is 50°C (122°F).

Climate

  • The climate ranges from sub-tropical in the south to tundra in the northern parts. The tundra-type region in the north is covered with snow for four months a year though the temperature drops below 0°C (32°F) almost every night. The peaks of north-western Sikkim are perpetually frozen. Most of the inhabited regions of Sikkim, however, have a temperate climate, with the temperatures seldom exceeding 28°C (82°F) in summer or dropping below 0°C (32°F) in winter. The mean monthly temperature in summer is 15°C. The rajadom has five seasons: winter, summer, spring, and autumn, and a monsoon season between June and September. The average annual temperature for most of Sikkim is around 18°C (64°F). Sikkim receives regular snowfall. The snow line ranges from 20,000 ft in the north to 16,000 ft in the south. During the monsoon, heavy rains increase the possibility of landslides. The record for the longest period of continuous rain is 11 days. In the northern region, because of the high altitude, temperatures drop below −40°C (−40°F) in winter. Fog also affects many parts of the rajadom during winter and the monsoons, making transportation perilous.

Flora and fauna

Flora

  • The forested regions of the rajadom exhibit a diverse range of flora and fauna. Owing to its altitudinal gradation, the rajadom has a wide variety of plants, from tropical to temperate to alpine and tundra. It is perhaps one of the few regions of the world to exhibit such a diversity within such a small area. Nearly 81% of the area of Sikkim comes under the administration of its forest department. The flora of Sikkim include the rhododendronwith a wide range of species occurring from subtropical to alpine regions.
  • In the Himalayan subtropical broadleaf forests of the lower altitudes of Sikkim, grow orchids, figs, laurel, bananas, sal trees and bamboo.
  • The Himalayan subtropical pine forests are dominated by Chir pine. In the lower elevations are found juniper, pine, firs, cypresses and rhododendrons. Higher up are Eastern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows, home to a broad variety of rhododendrons and wildflowers.
  • In the temperate elevations above 1500 ft there are eastern Himalayan broadleaf forests where oaks, chestnuts, maples, birches, alders, and magnolias grow in large numbers.
  • The alpine vegetation is typically found between an altitude of 3,500 to 5,000 ft.
  • Sikkim has around 5,000 flowering plants, 515 rare orchids, 60 primula species, 36 rhododendron species, 11 oak species, 23 bamboo species, 16 conifer species, 362 species of ferns and their allies, eight tree ferns, and over 424 medicinal plants. A variant of the poinsettia, locally known as the "Christmas Flower", can be found in abundance in the mountainous rajadom. The orchid Dendrobium nobile is the national flower of Sikkim.

Fauna

  • The fauna include the snow leopard, the musk deer, the bhoral, the Himalayan tahr, the red panda, the Himalayan marmot, the serow, the goral, the barking deer, the common langur, the Himalayan black bear, the clouded leopard, the marbled cat, the leopard cat, the wild dog, the Tibetan wolf, the hog badger, the binturong, the jungle cat and the civet. Among the animals more commonly found in the alpine zone are yaks, reared mainly for their milk and meat and for use as a beast of burden.
  • The avifauna of Sikkim consist of the Impeyan pheasant, the crimson horned pheasant, the snow partridge, the snow cock, the lammergeyer and griffon vulture, as well as golden eagles, quail, plovers, woodcock, sandpipers, pigeons, Old World flycatchers, Old World babbler, and robins. Sikkim has more than 550 species of birds, some of which have been declared endangered.
  • Sikkim also has a rich diversity of arthropods, many of which remain unstudied. Of approximately 1,438 butterfly species found in the Indian subcontinent, 695 have been recorded from Sikkim. These include the endangered kaiser-i-hind, the yellow gorgon and the Bhutan glory.

Culture

  • Indigenous Nepali and Lepcha music are popular.
  • Common sports in Sikkim are soccer and cricket.
  • Noodle-based dishes such as thukpa, thanthuk, fakthu, gyathuk and wonton are common in Sikkim. Momos, steamed dumplings filled with vegetables, buff (buffalo meat), or pork, and served with a soup, are a popular snack. Beer, whiskey, rum and brandy are widely consumed.

National symbols

  • National mammal 1: red panda (Ailurus fulgens)
  • National mammal 2: Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus)
  • National bird: blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus)
  • National reptile: Indian flap-shelled turtle (Lissemys punctata)
  • National flower: noble orchid (Cymbidium goeringii)
  • National tree: rhododendron (Rhododendron niveum)
  • National emblem: white, within a bordure gules, within a bordure vert, a dharma wheel or.
    • for a crest, on a grassy mound, in front of two noble orchids in saltire slipped proper, a blood pheasant rousant proper.
    • for supporters, standing on a grassy compartment, on the dexter a red panda and on the sinister a tahr guardant proper.
  • National anthem:
  • National sport: khuru (darts)
  • National dress:
    • Lepcha men
      • thokro, togo, gyodo
    • Lepcha women
      • dumbon, togo
    • Bhutia men
      • fo-kho, kerak, yentatsi, jaja, thuriskomba, shotsi
    • Bhutia women
      • mo-kho, pangden, hanju, sampo, tsering kengyapk shombu
  • National dance: Be Yu Mista
  • National instrument: tungna
  • National colors: green and red

Sikkimese public holidays

Date Name Notes
29 January The King's Coronation His Majesty was crowned in 1982
18 February 2015 Losar New Year
5 March 2015 Chotrul Düchen Butter Lamp Festival
6 March 2015 Holi A spring festival celebrating Vishnu's defeat of Hiinanyakashipu
1 April The King's Birthday Father's Day - His Majesty was born in 1953
25 May 2015 Suga Dawa Düchen The Buddha's Birth, Enlightenment, and Parinirvana (2010 only)
10 July 2015 Guru Rinpoche's Birthday Rinpoche transmitted Vajrayana Buddhism to the Himalayan nations
21 July The Queen's Birthday Mother's Day
28 August 2015 Ullambana Ancestor Day
22 September 2015 Thri-bab Blessed Rainy Day
5 October Constitution Day The constitution was passed in 1970
10 December Independence Day The kingdom was founded in 1642


Economy

  • Sikkim's economy is largely agrarian. The British introduced terraced farming of rice. Additional crops include maize, millet, wheat, barley, oranges, tea and cardamom. Sikkim has the highest production of and the largest area dedicated to cardamom in south Asia.
  • Because of the hilly terrain, and the lack of a reliable transportation infrastructure, there are no large-scale industries. Brewing, distilleries, tanning reaches of the rajadom, primarily in the villages of Melli and Jorethang.
  • Sikkim is a popular tourist destination owing to its culture, scenic beauty and biodiversity. In recent years, the government of Sikkim has extensively promoted tourism. As a result, the rajadom revenue has increased 14 times since the mid-1990s. There is excellent white water rafting on the Tista River. Trekking through the mountains and mountain climbing have proved to be popular.
  • A fledgling industry the rajadom has recently invested in is gambling. A casino was opened in March of 2009, the Casino Sikkim. Seven further casino licences are being considered by the government. A national lottery has been a commercial success and operates all over the country.
  • Among the minerals mined in Sikkim are copper, dolomite, talc, graphite, quartzite, coal, zinc and lead.
  • The opening of the Nathula Pass on July 6, 2006, connecting Lhasa, Tibet, to Bangal is expected to give a boost to the local economy, though the financial benefits will be slow to arrive. The pass was an extension to the south of the ancient Silk Road, which was essential to the wool, fur and spice trade.


Demographics

  • The native Sikkimese consist of the Bhutias who migrated from the Kham district of Tibet in the 14th century and the Lepchas who are believed to have migrated from the Far East. A large minority of Sikkim's residents are of Nepali origin who arrived in the 19th century. These have settled mainly in the three southern prefectures that border on Nepal (Darjeeling, Karsiyang, and Siliguri). Tibetans, mainly refugees, reside mainly in the northern Prefecture of Mangan. Immigrant resident communities also include Bengalis who own most of the shops in southern Sikkim and Gangtok.
  • Buddhism is the major religion in and the state religion of the rajadom. The particular expression is Vajrayana Buddhism of the Nyingma and Kagya traditions. It is practiced by all but the Nepalis who are Hindus. Sikkim has 75 Buddhist monasteries, the oldest dating back to the 1700s. Many of the Lepcha people are Christians, converted by British missionaries in the late 19th century.
  • The people of Sikkim are mainly Bhutia, Lepcha, and Limbu. These are the official languages. Many Nepali live in the Darjeeling District. Their language has become a lingua franca in the rajadom.
  • The population density is low, only 76 persons per square kilometre.
  • Its growth rate is 32.98%.
  • The sex ratio is 875 females to 1000 males.
  • The urban population in Sikkim is 13%.
  • The per capita income stands at Rs. 11,356, one of the highest in the Confederacy


Infrastructure

  • Sikkim receives most of its electricity from 19 hydroelectric power stations. It has achieved 100% rural electrification.
  • The rajadom government has promoted biogas and solar power for cooking but these have received a poor response and are used mostly for lighting purposes.
  • 71% of the total households have access to safe drinking water and the large number of streams assures sufficient water supply.

Transportation

License Plates

  • Vehicle registration plates are issued by the provincial governments.
  • The vehicle registration plates of the Rajadom of Sikkim are composed of three Latin letters and four digits embossed in red on a green background. They measure six inches by twelve inches.
  • सिक्किम is printed along the top of the plate, Sikkim along the bottom.
  • There is a three-letter prefix. The first two letters represent the prefecture where the vehicle is garaged.
  • The second letter designates the vehicle's use.
J (nijī) – privately owned
S (sarakāra) – government owned
K (kampanī) – company owned, including taxi cabs.
P (pulisa) – police
N (sēnā) – military
  • The plates shall be issued in sequential order from 0001 to 9999. When 9999 is reached, an alphanumeric designation shall be used: A001 to A999, B001 to B999, etc.
  • A green sticker with red digits gives the expiration date of the plate, the number of the month in the lower left corner, the year in the lower right corner.
  • License plates for vehicles belonging to the diplomatic corps shall use three letters and three digits. The letters are those of the nations' three-letter country code. The numbers shall run from 001 to 999. Cars bearing these plates have diplomatic immunity.
  • These plates are to be placed on both the front and the back of the vehicle, with the exception of bicycles, motorcycles, and animal-drawn conveyances.
  • If the vehicle is sold, inherited or totally destroyed, the plates are returned to the Mōṭara vāhana vibhāga (Department of Motor Vehicles). A new owner must re-register the vehicle.

Education

  • Literacy in Sikkim is 69.68%, which breaks down into 76.73% for males and 61.46% for females.
  • There are a total of 1157 schools, including 765 schools run by the rajadom government, 7 central government schools and 385 private schools.
  • Twelve colleges and other institutions in Sikkim offer higher education. The largest institution is the Sikkim Manipal University of Technological Sciences, which offers higher education in engineering, medicine and management.
  • It also runs a host of distance education programs in several fields.
  • There are two state-run polytechnical schools which offer diploma courses in various branches of engineering.
  • Many students, however, migrate to Kolkata, Bangalore and other Bangali cities for their higher education.

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