Sikkim is a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas. It is the least populous state in India, and the second-smallest in area after Goa. The thumb-shaped state borders Nepal in the west, Tibet Autonomous Region of China to the north and east, and Bhutan in the southeast. The Indian state of West Bengal borders Sikkim to its south. The official languages are Sikkimese, Nepali, Lepcha, Limbu, and English. The language of almost all written transactions is English. The predominant religions are Hinduism and Vajrayana Buddhism. Gangtok is the capital and largest town.
Despite its tiny size, Sukhim is a geographically diverse, owing to its location on the Himalaya. The climate ranges from subtropical to high alpine. Kangchenjunga, the world's third highest peak, is located in the northwestern part of the state on the boundary with Nepal, and can be seen from most parts of the state. Sikkim is a popular tourist destination for its culture, scenic beauty and biodiversity.
Not much is known about the early history of Gangtok. The earliest records date from the construction of the hermitic Gangtok monastery in 1716. Gangtok remained a small hamlet until the construction of the Enchey Monastery in 1840 made it a pilgrimage center. After the defeat of the Tibetans by the British, Gangtok became a major stopover in the trade between Tibet and British India at the end of the 19th century. Most of the roads and the telegraph in the area were built during this time.
In 1894, Thutob Namgyal, the Sikkimese monarch under British rule, shifted the capital from Tumlong to Gangtok, increasing its importance. A new grand palace along with other state buildings was built in the new capital. Following India's independence in 1947, Sikkim became a nation-state with Gangtok as its capital. Sikkim became a suzerain of India, with the condition that it would retain its independence, by the treaty signed between the Chogyal and the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Trade between India and Tibet continued to flourish through the Nathula and Jelepla passes, offshoots of the ancient Silk Road near Gangtok. These border passes were sealed after the Sino-Indian War in 1962, which deprived Gangtok of its trading business. In 1975, the monarchy was abrogated and Sikkim became India's twenty-second state, with Gangtok as its capital .
Sikkim's mountainous terrain results in the lack of train or air links, limiting the area's potential for rapid industrial development. The government is the largest employer in the city, both directly and as contractors. The Sikkim Police also employs a large number of people to patrol the streets. The tourism industry provides employment to many people, with jobs ranging from drivers, shopkeepers to hoteliers. Gangtok receives around 200,000 tourists and earns Rs. 42 crores (9.7 million US $ annually. Its economy does not have a manufacturing base, but cottage industries such as watch-making, country-made alcohol and handicrafts are present. Among the handicrafts are the handmade paper industry made from various vegetable fibers or cotton rags. The main market in Gangtok provides many of the state's rural residents a place to offer their produce during the harvest seasons. The majority of the private business community is made up of Marwaris and Biharis.
As Sikkim is a frontier state, the Indian army maintains a large presence in the vicinity of Gangtok. This leads to a large population of semi-permanent residents who bring money into the local economy. The government of Sikkim also earns a lot of revenue from the numerous Playwin lottery centres (through online gambling) in the city. With the proposed opening of the Nathula Pass by the Union government in April 2006, Gangtok would benefit as a result of trade between India and Tibet. The Nathula Pass, located about fifty kilometres from Gangtok, used to be the primary route of the wool, fur and spice trade with Tibet until 1962, when the border was closed.