The thumb-shaped state of Sikkim is characterised by wholly mountainous terrain. Almost the entire state is hilly, with the elevation ranging from 280 metres (920 feet) to 8,585 metres (28,000 feet). The summit of the Kanchenjunga is the highest point. 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 and is used for cultivation. Numerous snow-fed streams in Sikkim have carved out river valleys in the west and south of the state. These streams combine into the Teesta and its tributary, the Rangeet. The Teesta, described as the "lifeline of Sikkim", flows through the state from north to south. About a third of the land is heavily forested.
Sikkim has four districts, each overseen by a Central Government appointee, the district collector, who is in-charge of the administration of the civilian areas of the districts. The Indian army has control of a large territory, as the state is a sensitive border area. Many areas are restricted and permits are needed to visit them. There are a total of eight towns and nine sub-divisions in Sikkim.
The four districts are East Sikkim, West Sikkim, North Sikkim and South Sikkim. The district capitals are Gangtok, Geyzing, Mangan and Namchi respectively. These Four Districts are further divided into Sub-Divisions. "Pakyong" is the sub-division of East District. "Soreng" is the sub-division of West District. "Chungthang" is the sub-division of North District. "Ravongla" is the sub-division of South District.
Sikkim's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $478 million in current prices.
Sikkim's economy is largely agrarian, based on traditional farming methods, on terraced slopes. The rural populace grows crops such as cardamom, oranges, apples, tea and orchids. Rice is grown on terraced hillsides in the southern reaches. Sikkim has the highest production and largest cultivated area of cardamom in India. Because of the hilly terrain, and lack of reliable transportation infrastructure, there are no large-scale industries. Breweries, distilleries, tanning and watch-making are the main industries. These are located in the southern reaches of the state, primarily in the towns of Melli and Jorethang. The state has an impressive growth rate of 8.3%, which is the second highest in the country after Delhi.
Elaichi or Cardamom is the chief cash crop of Sikkim.
In recent years, the government of Sikkim has promoted tourism. Sikkim has a vast tourism potential and by tapping into this the state has grossed an earnings windfall. With the general improvement in infrastructure, tourism is slated to be the mainstay of the Sikkim's economy. A fledgling industry the state has recently invested in is online gambling. The "Playwin" lottery, which is played on custom-built terminals connected to the internet, has been a commercial success, with operations all over the country. Among the minerals mined in Sikkim are copper, dolomite, limestone, graphite, mica, iron, and coal.