Ladakh ("land of high passes") (Ladakhi: ལ་དྭགས ; Hindi: लद्दाख़; Urdu: لَدّاخ) is a region in Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir that currently extends from the Kunlun mountain range to the main Great Himalayas to the south and is inhabited by people of Indo-Aryan and Tibetan descent. It is one of the most sparsely populated regions in India and its culture and history are closely related to that of Tibet. Contemporary Ladakh borders Tibet, the Vale of Kashmir, Jammu and Xinjiang (China) across the Karakoram Pass. Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes. Since 1974, the Government of India has successfully encouraged tourism in Ladakh. The largest town in Ladakh is Leh, followed by Kargil. Almost half of Ladakhis are Shia Muslims and the rest are mostly Tibetan Buddhists.
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