Once a single entity, it is now split between two nations: see Haryana,Punjab, India and Punjab, Pakistan. Punjab, India covers an area of 50,362 square kilometres (19,445 square miles). Punjab, Pakistan is 205,344 square kilometres, (79,284 square miles). Population: 24,000,000 (2000) in India: 70,000,000 (1994) in Pakistan.
The name "Punjab" means "land of five rivers" and derives from the Persian words 'panj,' meaning five, and 'aab,' meaning water. The rivers, tributaries of the Indus River, are the Beas, Chenab, Jhelum, Ravi, and Sutlej. The five rivers, now divided between India and Pakistan, merge to form the Panjnad, which joins the Indus. The state capital of Punjab is Chandigarh.
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The region came under British rule when the East India Company annexed the Punjab on March 29, 1849, and was made a province of British India, with Lahore as its capital. The province contained 34 princely states, whose local rulers were under the provincial governor's authority. The province was divided between India and Pakistan when they gained independence in 1947. Some small kingdoms were also lost to Pakistan, such as Ratnavli.
The Indian portion of the former province became Punjab state in 1950, while the former princely states federated into the Patiala and East Punjab States Union, or PEPSU. PEPSU was merged into Punjab state in 1956, and the state was divided into Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh states in 1966. The 1966 reorganization created a smaller Punjab state populated mostly by Sikhs and a predominantly Hindu Haryana. Himachal Pradesh includes the part of Punjab that lay in the Himalaya and its foothills, and is predominantly Hindu. Chandigarh, on the boundary between East Punjab and Haryana, is the capital of both states, but is administered as a Union Territory from Delhi.
The Pakistani portion of the Punjab became one of Pakistan's four constituent province. Lahore, which is capital of the province, is the second largest city in Pakistan.
Sikhism is the main religion of the Indian Punjab. About 60% of the population are Sikhs, 37% is Hindu, and the remaining 3% is split between mostly Christians and Muslims. Islam is the religion of about 97% of the population of the Punjab in Pakistan. The language of the region is Punjabi.
Most of the Punjab is an alluvial plain, bounded by mountains to the North. Despite its dry conditions, it is a rich agricultural area due to the extensive irrigation made possible by the great rivers. The Indian Punjab is the wealthiest state in the country per capita, with most of the revenue generated from agriculture.
Main article: History of the Punjab
The word "Punjab" was mentioned for the first time in the Persian work Tarikh-e-Sher Shah (1580). The book refers to the construction of a fort by Sher Khan of Punjab. The name is mentioned again in Ain-e-Akbari, Part 1, by Abul Fazal, who also mentions that the territory of Punjab was divided into the two provinces of Lahore and Multan. Similarly in the second volume of Aeen-e-Akbari a title of a chapter contains the word "Punjab" in it. Also the Mughal King Jahangir mentions the Punjab in Tuzk-i-Janhageer [Quraishee 73].
Archeologists have traced the signs of human habitation to times long before that of the Mughals' arrival. The upper basin of the Indus River and the Baluchistan Plateau hosted one of the earliest human civilizations, known as the Indus Valley Civilization. The first signs of human activity date from 7000 BC. The Indus Valley Civilization grew from small village settlements to highly-refined urban life. At its height, around 3000 BC, it boasted the splendid cities of Harrapa (near present day Sahiwal in West Punjab) and Mohenjo Daro in the lower Indus Valley. The story of the decline of the civilization, the full reasons for which are still unclear, is told through the remains of these cities. The decline is evidently linked to the desiccation of the main river that fed the civilisation on its shores.
- Patwant Singh. 1999. The Sikhs. New York: Doubleday. ISBN 0385502060.
Punjabis is a plural and refers to people who come from the area known as Punjab, which now lies across present-day Pakistan and India. It also refers to any body of people who speak the Punjabi language.