Gilgit-Baltistan formerly known as the Northern Areas is the northernmost political entity within Pakistan. It borders Pakistan’s Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province to the west, Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor to the north, China to the east and northeast, Azad Kashmir to the southwest and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir to the southeast. Gilgit-Baltistan covers an area of 72,971 km² (28,174 mi²) and is highly mountainous. It has an estimated population approaching 1,000,000. Its administrative center is the city of Gilgit (population 216,760).
The territory became a single administrative unit in 1970 under the name Northern Areas and was formed by the amalgamation of the Gilgit Agency, the Baltistan District of the Ladakh Wazarat, and the states of Hunza and Nagar. Pakistan and the majority of the local inhabitants of Gilgit-Baltistan consider the territory separate and distinct from Kashmir.
There are more than 50,000 pieces of rock art (petro glyphs) and inscriptions all along the Karakoram Highway in Gilgit-Baltistan, concentrated at ten major sites between Hunza and Shatial. The carvings were left by various invaders, traders, and pilgrims who passed along the trade route, as well as by locals. The ethnologist Karl Jettmar has pieced together the history of the area from various inscriptions and recorded his findings in Rock Carvings and Inscriptions in the Northern Areas of Pakistan and the later released Between Gandhara and the Silk Roads – Rock Carvings Along the Karakoram Highway.Many of these carvings and inscriptions will be inundated and/or destroyed when the planned Basha-Diamir dam is built and the Karakoram Highway widened.