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Punjab

Introduction

Punjab (pŭnˌjäbˈ) [key] [Pers., = five rivers], historic region in the NW of the Indian subcontinent. Since 1947 it has been separated into an Indian state and a Pakistani province bearing the same name. The Indus River bounds the region in part of the west and the Yamuna River in part of the east. The five rivers that give Punjab its name, the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi, the Sutlej, and the Beas, merge to form the Panjnad, which flows into the Indus. Except in the north, where there are forested mountains yielding salt and coal, the Punjab is a level alluvial plain. Rainfall is scant and irregular, but extensive irrigation systems using the waters of the great rivers have made possible enormous agricultural productivity. Wheat (by far the leading crop), millet, barley, cotton, and sugarcane are grown, and there are extensive fruit orchards. The Punjab has a large textile industry and much flour milling. Communications (by road, by rail, and on the rivers) are excellent. More than 60% of the population of Punjab is Sikh (see Sikhism).

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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