Himachal Pradesh is famous for its abundant natural beauty. After the war between Nepal and Britain, also known as the Anglo-Gorkha War (1814–1816), the British colonial government came into power and the land now comprising Himachal Pradesh became part of the Punjab Province of British India. In 1950, Himachal was declared a union territory, but after the State of Himachal Pradesh Act 1971, Himachal emerged as the 18th state of the Republic of India. Hima means snow in Sanskrit, and the literal meaning of the state's name is "In the lap of Himalayas". It was named by Acharya Diwakar Datt Sharma, one of the great Sanskrit scholars of Himachal Pradesh.
Himachal Pradesh is spread across valleys, and 90% of the population lives in villages and towns. However, the state has achieved 100% hygiene and practically no single house is without a toilet. The villages are well connected to roads, public health centers, and now with Lokmitra kendra using high-speed broadband. Shimla district has maximum urban population of 25%. According to a 2005 Transparency International survey, Himachal Pradesh is ranked the second-least corrupt state in the country after Kerala. The hill stations of the state are among the most visited places in the country. The government has successfully imposed environmental protection and tourism development, meeting European standards, and it is the only state which forbids the use of polyethylene and tobacco products. Himachal is in the western Himalayas. Covering an area of 55,673 square kilometers (21,495 sq mi), it is a mountainous state. Most of the state lies on the foothills of the Dhauladhar Range. At 6,816 m Reo Purgyil is the highest mountain peak in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The drainage system of Himachal is composed both of rivers and glaciers. Himalayan rivers criss-cross the entire mountain chain. Himachal Pradesh provides water to both the Indus and Ganges basins. The drainage systems of the region are the Chandra Bhaga or the Chenab, the Ravi, the Beas, the Sutlej, and the Yamuna. These rivers are perennial and are fed by snow and rainfall. They are protected by an extensive cover of natural vegetation.
The hills contain western Himalayan broadleaf forests and Himalayan subtropical pine forests. Various deciduous and evergreen oaks live in the broadleaf forests, while chir pine
dominates the pine forests. Western Himalayan subalpine conifer forests grow near treeline, with species that include East Himalayan fir, West Himalayan spruce, deodar (the state
tree), and blue pine. The uppermost elevations have western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows in the northeast and northwestern Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows in the
northwest. Trees are sturdy with a vast network of roots. Alders, birches, rhododendrons and moist alpine shrubs are there as the regional vegetation. The rhododendrons can be
seen along the hillsides around Shimla from March to May. The shrublands and meadows give way to rock and ice around the highest peaks. Himachal is also said to be the fruit
bowl of the country, with orchards being widespread. Meadows and pastures are also seen clinging to steep slopes. After the winter season, the hillsides and orchards bloom with
wild flowers, while gladiolas, carnations, marigolds, roses, chrysanthemums, tulips and lilies are carefully cultivated. The state government is gearing up to make Himachal Pradesh
as the flower basket of the world.
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