|The Himalayan region comprises the countries of Nepal and Bhutan as well as Tibet and parts of western China, eastern and northern India, northern Pakistan, and northeastern Afghanistan. "Himalaya" is a Sanskrit term meaning "abode of snows," yet the large area encompassed by the Himalayas is one of geographic and climatic contrasts: high-altitude snow- and ice-covered mountains give way to vast plateaus and deserts sprinkled with fertile valleys. The population is also very diverse, belonging to a number of ethnic and linguistic groups. Binding the Himalayas together culturally and art historically, however, is Buddhism, the predominant religion, although Islam and Hinduism are also practiced, particularly in India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. The Asia Society collection of Himalayan art contains a number of recognized masterpieces and includes objects from Kashmir (located in northern India), Nepal, and Tibet.