Ladakh ("land of high passes") is a region of India in the state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Karakoram mountain range in the north to the
main Great Himalayas to the south, inhabited by people of IndoAryan
and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in Jammu and
Kashmir and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet.
Historically, the region included the Baltistan (Baltiyul) valleys (now mostly in Pakistani Kashmir), the entire upper Indus Valley, the remote Zanskar, Lahaul and
Spiti to the south, much of Ngari including the Rudok region and Guge in the east, Aksai Chin in the northeast (extending to the Kun Lun Mountains), and
the Nubra Valley to the north over Khardong La in the Ladakh Range. Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet to the east, the Lahaul and Spiti regions to the south,
the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Baltiyul regions to the west, and the southwest corner of Xinjiang across the Karakoram Pass in the far north. Ladakh is renowned
for its remote mountain beauty and culture. Aksai Chin is one of the disputed border areas between China and India. It is administered by China as part of Hotan
County but is also claimed by India as a part of the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. In 1962 China and India fought a brief war over Aksai Chin
and Arunachal Pradesh, but in 1993 and 1996 the two countries signed agreements to respect the Line of Actual Control.
The largest town in Ladakh is Leh. Almost half of Ladakhis are Tibetan Buddhists and the rest are mostly Shia Muslims. Leh is followed by Kargil as the largest
town in Ladakh. Some Ladakhi activists have in recent times called for Ladakh to be constituted as a union territory because of perceived unfair treatment by
Kashmir and Ladakh's cultural differences with predominantly Muslim Kashmir.