Until the Partition of Punjab in 1947, the British Punjab Province encompassed the present-day Indian states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, and Delhi, and the Pakistani provinces of Punjab and Islamabad Capital Territory. It bordered the Balochistan and Pashtunistan regions to the west, Kashmir to the north, the Hindi Belt to the east, and Rajasthan and Sindh to the south.
The people of the Punjab today are called Punjabis, and their principal language is Punjabi. The main religions of the Punjab region are Islam, Sikhism, and Hinduism. Other religious groups are Christianity, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, and Ravidassia. The Punjab region has been inhabited by the Indus Valley Civilisation, Indo-Aryan peoples, and Indo-Scythians, and has seen numerous invasions by the Persians, Greeks, Kushans, Ghaznavids, Timurids, Mughals, Pashtuns, British, and others. Historic foreign invasions mainly targeted the most productive central region of the Punjab known as the Majha region, which is also the bedrock of Punjabi culture and traditions.
The region was originally called Sapta Sindhu, the Vedic land of the seven rivers flowing into the ocean. The Classical Sanskrit name for the region, as mentioned in the Ramayana and Mahabharata for example, was Panchanada which means "Land of the Five Rivers", and was translated to Persian as Punjab after the Muslim conquests. The later name of the region, Punjab, is a compound of two Persian words, Panj (five) and āb (water), introduced to the region by the Turko-Persian conquerors of India, and more formally popularised during the Mughal Empire. Punjab thus means "The Land of Five Waters", referring to the rivers Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas. All are tributaries of the Indus River, the Chenab being the largest.
There are two main definitions of the Punjab region: the 1947 definition and the older 1846–1849 definition. A third definition incorporates both the 1947 and the older definitions but also includes northern Rajasthan on a linguistic basis and ancient river movements.
The 1947 definition defines the Punjab region with reference to the dissolution of British India whereby the then British Punjab Province was partitioned between India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, the region now includes the Punjab province and Islamabad Capital Territory. In India, it includes the Punjab state, Chandigarh, Haryana, and Himachal Pradesh.