Balti is spoken in the Northern Areas (Gilgit-Baltistan) of Pakistan and adjoining parts of Ladakh, India. It is closely related to those languages found in Tibet. Though the population of Baltistan is a mixture of different ethnic groups, those whose ancestors originally came from Tibet form the principal ethnic group.

A Tibetan script was used for Balti until the 16th century when it was replaced with the Persian script, but a Persian alphabet that corresponded well to the Balti language was never developed. Since this Tibetan language is isolated from Tibet, newly invented and introduced concepts are not added to the language in uniquely Tibetan vocabulary, but instead in the Urdu and English vocabulary that has become more common in the region since the formation of the country of Pakistan. This isolation from other related languages also puts a lot of pressure on the Balti community to shift to more dominant languages such as Urdu.

Balti has several genres of folk and classical literature. While there are some proverbs and epic stories within the oral tradition, the existing literature is all poetry.