The 300 miles long and 60 miles wide Karakorum Range begins at Chilinji, south east of Wakhjir Pass and stretches up to the Indian occupied disputed territory of Ladakh beyond Sicachen Glacier to the Western extremities of Tibet in China. The Turkish word Kara-korum mean “black rock” is thought to have originated from Tethys Sea some 50 million years ago as a result of the collision between Asian and Indian plates, where Indian plate penetrated its edge under Asian plate, moving it up. The tectonic movements are still on with the evidences of 7 mm rise in Nanga Parbat, frequent earthquakes and massive landslides through the history of the region. Hot springs in Karakorum erupting through probably the recent faults and fractures provide another face of the active geology of the Range. The groups of mountains in the Karakorum Range are termed as Mustaghseven in number- namely, Batura, Hisper, Panamah, Baltoro, Siachen, Rimo and Saser where most of the mountains are above 6000m high. Karakorum II (Choghori – K2) is the highest peak of the Karakorum Range along with other four of the world's 8000 m, 133 peaks above 7000m and hundreds more above 6000m. The Karakorum is characterized by steep and jagged high peaks, immense glaciers stretching for miles, lush high valleys and deep narrow gorges. The Karakorum contains largest ice mass outside poles in the form of world's longest glacier system including 40 large and many small glaciers. The famous glaciers of Karakorum are Siachen, Batura, Baltoro, Biafo, Hisper, Balafond, Gondgoro, Godwin Austin, Chogholungma, Chogolunsa, Chomaig, Gasheburum, Sarpolago, Braod peak Glacier, Weyin, Wirjerab, Bozgil and Khurdopin. While famous peaks of the Karakorum Range include K-2, Hidden Peak, Broad Peak, Gashaburum I - IV, Kiangshish, Mashaburum, Batura, Spatnik, Rakhaposhi etc.
The history of Gilgit-Baltistan is traced back to 5th millennium BC inhabited by the Rock Art people who thought to have started the tradition of rock carving are believed to worship mountains. After words the Megalith Builders came to the area from Chitral and Sawat who used to worship a ceremonial carved stone and they also started agricultural activities and livestock herding here. According to historians, during the 4th century BC, Dardis lived in the present day Gilgit- Baltistan and depended on mining and trading gold, which led to the establishment of a trade route with Central Asia and China. Some rock inscriptions around Chilas entail that the Scythians ruled the area between 1 BC and 1 AD. Khushans and Assassins got the reign after Dardis and then came the Huns who ruled through several Burusho and Sheen rulers, called rajas. With the decline of Huns, the Rajas became independent and established seven small states. Turbulence continued and the area once again came under the rule of Dogras of Kashmir in mid-18th century and by the end of 19th century the British added it to their empire through a lease agreement with Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir; naming it Gilgit Agency.
The long history of Gilgit-Baltistan indicates its cultural richness ranging from centuries old Buddhist carvings to Tibetan art buildings and free style polo to sword dance popular even today across the region. At one end, this region attracted conquerors from Persia and Central Asia and on the other hand, Buddhist monks used the silk route to enter China. This made the area a meeting place for rulers, pilgrims, traders and explorers resulting in a blend of cultures and rich heritage. Megalithic stones, Buddhist Stupas, rock carvings and inscriptions vividly narrate the stories the area's turbulent history. Central part of the Karakorum mountain range cover Gilgit, Hunza-Nagar, Skardu and Ganche districts of Gilgit-Baltistan where each district exhibits a different ethnic diversity. Baltistan as the name shows, is the land of Balti folks, basically Tibitans. Majority of the population is Balti but four other ethnic groups with Aryan decendence make 7% of the population.
The mountainous Gilgit-Baltistan has more than half of its land located above 4500 meters asl with over a hundred peaks above 7000 meter high and the largest ice mass outside the poles. Water from these glaciers feed one of nine major rivers of the world; Indus River, lifeline of the country. Indus originates from Mount Kalash in Chinese Tibet, enters Pakistan through Kharmang valley in Skardu, travels 3000 km downstream and flows into the Arabian Sea. Scenic high altitude lakes along the Indus not only add to its beauty but also increase its ecological value. Barren mountains are rich in minerals and gemstones like aquamarine, ruby, emerald, tourmaline, topaz and quartz etc.
With the construction of Karakorum Highway in 1979, trade and tourism developed tremendously. Hydro power electricity is provided to almost all valleys while domestic fuel energy is still largely dependent on fire wood. All the seven districts are accessible via carpeted roads but the remote valleys can be traversed by jeeps only. Modern communication facilities are limited to district headquarters and adjacent villages but telephone service is available even in remotest villages. Cell phones can be used on KKH from Chillas upto Shandoor, Babusar, Chillim, Qurumbar and Khunjerab pass.
The four Aryan ethnic groups are Sheen, Yashkun, Kameen and Dom who are thought to be the sub groups of the Dards, speaking Shina language also live in some valleys of Baltistan. Gilgit district being the headquarters of Gilgit-Baltistan has a great diversity in terms of ethnicity as people of different ethnic groups from almost all valleys of GB are settled in Gilgit city and in its surrounding valleys. Ethnicity in the district is conferred on the basis of language and in that way the major groups are Sheena speakers (Sheen, Yashkun, Dom, Kameen), Burushaski speakers (from Hunza, Nagar & Yashin), Khowar speakers (from Gupis and Chitral), Wakhi speakers (from Qurumbar & Gojal), Gojri speakers (Gujjars) and Pushtu speakers (Pathans). Majority of the valleys of Gilgit district falling in the CKNP buffer zone of CKNP are inhabited by Shina and Burushaski speakers. Nagar valleys dwells Burushaski and Shina speakers whereas Shimshal valley of Gojal is the home of Wakhi people who have Central Asian origin. Although the first person inhabiting Shimshal has migrated from Hunza but the language of Shimshal is entirely different from Burushaski; the language of Hunza valley. The origin of Wakhi is from Central Asia with many words of Persian but Brushaski language has no relation with any language of the region and its origin is still an enigma.
CKNP supports a great variety of flora and fauna, including 12 species of mammals, 23 species of reptiles, 6 species of amphibians, 17 species of native fish and a wide array of floral species, which is yet not identified and recorded.