Uttaranchal became the 28th state of the Republic of India on November 9, 2000. Uttaranchal borders China in the north and Nepal to the east, while its neighbour states are Himachal Pradesh to the west and Uttar Pradesh (of which it formed a part before 2000) in the south. The region is traditionally referred to as Uttarakhand in old literature and scriptures which derives from the Sanskrit for North Country. The provisional capital of Uttaranchal is Dehra Dun 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 Dehra Dun to be the provisional capital.The High Court of the state is in Nainital.
Uttaranchal is a region of outstanding natural beauty. Most of the northern parts of the state are part of Greater Himalya ranges, covered by the high Himalayan peaks and glaciers, while the lower foothills were densely forested till denuded by the British log merchants and forest contractors after independence. Recent efforts in forestation, 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 Uttaranchal, and are fed by myriad lakes, glacial melts and streams in the region.
Uttaranchal is comprised of two regions, the western half known as Garhwal and the eastern region going by the name of Kumaon, the two having different chieftains in history and different lingual and cultural influences due to proximity and neighbourhood of different cultures. Inseparable and complementary nature of their geography, economy, culture, language and traditions, however, have formed strong bondages between the two regions.
Recent developments in the region include initiatives by the state government to capitalise on the burgeoning tourist trade as well as tax incentives to lure high-tech industry to the state. The state also has big-dam projects, controversial and often criticised in India, such as the very large Tehri dam on the Bhagirathi-Bhilangana rivers, conceived in 1953 and about to reach completion.