Baltistan (Urdu: بلتستان, Balti: བལྟིསྟན, also known as Baltiyul), is a region in northern Pakistan which forms Gilgit–Baltistan, bordering the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China. In addition, a part of Baltistan also falls into the part of India's Jammu and Kashmir state. It is situated in the Karakoram mountains just to the south of K2, the world's second highest mountain. It is an extremely mountainous region, with an average altitude of over 3,350 m (11,000 ft). It is inhabited principally by the Balti people of Tibetan descent.
Baltistan consisted of small independent valley states that were connected to each other through blood relationships of the rulers, called rajas, trade, common beliefs and strong cultural and language bonds. These states were subjugated by force by the Dogra rulers of Kashmir in the nineteenth century. In 1947 when India and Pakistan gained independence, Baltistan was still part of Kashmir. The people of Baltistan being predominantly Muslims revolted against the Dogra rulers and after a struggle lasting a year became independent. Along with Gilgit, it is now administered by Pakistan as the region of Gilgit–Baltistan (formerly Northern Areas). Its links with Kashmir as a subjugated people today continue to be an impediment in granting its population citizenship of Pakistan. The Kargil district of this region is located in the north of Jammu and Kashmir, while the districts of Skardu and Ganche, whose main town is Skardu, are located in the Gilgit–Baltistan region. The region has the highest peaks of the Karakoram, including K2.
Baltistan consists of two districts, Skardu and Gangche. It is made of five regions: Skardu, Shigar, Khaplu, Rondu and Chorbat. Some areas of Baltistan are currently administered by India as well, as part of the Ladakh district of Jammu and Kashmir. The vast majority of the population adheres to Islam. The Skardu district has majority Shia community around 90%, while the Gangche district has majority of Noorbakhsh community around 85%.