Ladakh’s area is twice that of Jammu and Kashmir combined. But its population is just over one lakh, scattered over the region’s 239 village in an area of 96,000 sq. km-a vast arid desert of bare crags and granite dust. Most of the people live around the valleys of the Indus and its tributaries like the Shyok, Zanskar and Nubra, at altitudes varying from 11,000 to 17,000 feet. Some of the mountain peaks are as high as 25,000 feet.
Ladakh has the largest concentration of Buddhists in India. About 55,000 in number, they mostly inhabit Leh and Zanskar Tehsils. Muslims, who number about 49,000, are concentrated in Kargil Tehdil. Most of them are Shias.
Ladakhis belong to the Tibetan race, with an admixture of Aryans. There are pockets of Balti and Dardic races also. The higher altitudes of Ruspshu are inhabited by the nomadic tribe of Champas.
The political and emotional isolation of the region was broken by two events.
a) The first was the Pakistani attacks.
b) The second was Chinese action to end the autonomy of Tibet.
Finally Ladakhi Buddhists shifted to India.