Gilgiti Shina is spoken in the lush valley of the Gilgit River. The waters that course through this valley come from beyond Punial in the upper reaches of the watershed below Shandur Pass and the mountains that separate Gilgit from Chitral. The language is spoken in almost the entire area of the river’s tributaries.
The largest number of Gilgiti Shina speakers lives around Gilgit town. It is the centre for trade and government for the northern areas of Pakistan — the province of Gilgit-Baltistan — and its bazaars are filled with people speaking all the languages of the region. Gilgit town is also a centre for education: high schools, degree colleges, and a post-graduate university attract students from the area. Radio Pakistan broadcasts from Gilgit; in addition to their Urdu transmissions, they also have several hours of programming each day in the Shina language, using the Gilgit dialect.
The Shina speakers come from a variety of clans and tribal backgrounds, but all are proud of their language. Shina is a very vital language with a strong heritage of oral literature, including folktales, legends history, poetry and song. There is increasing interest in reading and writing Shina and preserving their oral heritage in print.