Northeast India

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Northeast India
पूर्वोत्तर भारत
উত্তৰ-পূব ভাৰত
Northeast india map.png
Country India
States and territories
Largest city Guwahati
Most populous cities (2011)
Area
 • Total 262,230 km2 (101,250 sq mi)
Population (2011 Census of India)
 • Total 45,772,188
 • Density 170/km2 (450/sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
Official languages
Northeast India

Northeast India (officially called North Eastern Region, NER) is the easternmost region of India. It comprises eight states – the contiguous Seven Sister States (Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura), and the Himalayan state of Sikkim. The Siliguri Corridor in West Bengal, with a width of 21 to 40 kilometres (13 to 25 mi),[1] connects the North Eastern Region with East India and separates Sikkim from the Seven Sister States. The region shares more than 4,500 kilometres (2,800 mi) of international border with Tibet in the north, Myanmar in the east, Bangladesh in the southwest and Bhutan to the northwest.[1] It comprises an area of 262,230 square kilometres (101,250 sq mi), or 8.0 percent of India, and is the largest salient (panhandle) in the world.

The states of North Eastern Region are officially recognised under the North Eastern Council (NEC),[2] constituted in 1971 as the acting agency for the development of the eight states, at the time of induction of NEC, the North Eastern Region comprised the Seven Sister States only. Sikkim was introduced as the eighth member in 2002.[3][4] Sikkim is the least populous and the second smallest state in India.

History[edit]

The traditional map of Kamarupa from first millennium sources
Assam annexation to British India in 1838.
Eastern Bengal and Assam in 1907

The earliest settlers may have been Austro-Asiatic speakers from Southeast Asia, followed by Tibeto-Burmese from China and by 500 B.C. Indo-Aryans speakers from Gangetic Plains.[5] Due to the bio- and crop diversity of the region, archaeological researchers believe that early settlers of Northeast India had domesticated several important plants.[6] Writers believe that the 100 BC writings of Chinese explorer, Zhang Qian indicate an early trade route via Northeast India,[7] the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mention a people called Sêsatai in the region,[8] who produced malabathron, so prized in the old world.[9]

In the early historical period (most of first millennium), Kamarupa straddled most of present-day Northeast India, besides Bhutan and Sylhet in Bangladesh. Xuanzang, a travelling Chinese Buddhist monk, visited Kamarupa in the 7th century. He described the people as "short in stature and black-looking", whose speech differed a little from mid-India and who were of simple but violent disposition, he wrote that the people in Kamarupa knew of Sichuan, which lay to the kingdom's east beyond a treacherous mountain.[10] For many of the tribal peoples, their primary identification is with subtribes and villages, which have distinct dialects and cultures.

The northeastern states were established during the British Raj of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when they became relatively isolated from traditional trading partners such as Bhutan and Myanmar.[11] Many of the peoples in present-day Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland converted to Christianity under the influence of British (Welsh) missionaries.

Formation of North Eastern states[edit]

In the early 19th century, both the Ahom and the Manipur kingdoms fell to a Burmese invasion, the ensuing First Anglo-Burmese War resulted in the entire region coming under British control. In the colonial period (1826–1947), North East India was made a part of Bengal Province from 1839 to 1873, when Assam became its own province.[12]

After Indian Independence from British Rule in 1947, the Northeastern region of British India consisted of Assam and the princely states of Manipur and Tripura. Subsequently, Nagaland in 1963, Meghalaya in 1972, Arunachal Pradesh in 1975 (capital changed to Itanagar) (formed on 20 February 1987) and Mizoram in 1987 were formed out of the large territory of Assam.[13] Manipur and Tripura remained as Union Territories of India between 1956 until 1972, when they attained fully-fledged statehood. Sikkim was integrated as the eighth North Eastern Council state in 2002.[3]

The city of Shillong served as the capital of the Assam province created during British Rule, it remained as the capital of undivided Assam until formation of the state of Meghalaya in 1972.[14] The capital of Assam was shifted to Dispur, a part of Guwahati, and Shillong was designated as the capital of Meghalaya.

State Historic Name Capital(s) Statehood
Arunachal Pradesh North-East Frontier Agency Itanagar 1987 (earlier a Union Territory of India, constituted in 1972)
Assam Pragjyotisha, Kamarupa Shillong (till 1969), Dispur 1947
Manipur Kangleipak[15] Imphal 1972 (earlier a Union Territory of India, constituted in 1956)
Meghalaya Khasi hills, Jaintia hills and Garo hills Shillong 1972
Mizoram Lushai hills Aizawl 1987 (earlier a Union Territory of India, constituted in 1972) [16]
Nagaland Naga hills Kohima 1963
Sikkim Sukhim Gangtok 1975
Tripura Tipperah [17] Agartala 1972 (earlier a Union Territory of India, constituted in 1956)

World War II[edit]

In 1944, the Japanese planned a daring attack on India. Traveling through Burma, its forces were stopped at Kohima and Imphal by British and Indian troops, this marked the furthest western expansion of the Japanese Empire; its defeat in this area presaged Allied victory .

Sino-Indian War (1962)[edit]

Arunachal Pradesh, a state in the Northeastern tip of India, is claimed by China as South Tibet.[citation needed] Sino-Indian relations degraded, resulting in the Sino-Indian War of 1962. The cause of the escalation into war is still disputed by both Chinese and Indian sources, during the war in 1962, the PRC (China) captured much of the NEFA (North-East Frontier Agency) created by India in 1954. But on 21 November 1962, China declared a unilateral ceasefire, and withdrew its troops 20 kilometres (12 mi) behind the McMahon Line. It returned Indian prisoners of war in 1963.[18]

Seven Sister States[edit]

The Seven Sister States[19] is a popular term for the contiguous states of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura prior to inclusion of the state of Sikkim into the North Eastern Region of India. The sobriquet 'Land of the Seven Sisters' was coined to coincide with the inauguration of the new states in January 1972 by Jyoti Prasad Saikia,[20] a journalist in Tripura, in the course of a radio talk show, he later compiled a book on the interdependence and commonness of the Seven Sister States, and named it the Land of Seven Sisters. It has been primarily because of this publication that the nickname has caught on.

Geography[edit]

Brahmaputra plain and Eastern Himalaya in Northeast India

The Northeast region can be physiographically categorised into the Eastern Himalaya, the Patkai and the Brahmaputra and the Barak valley plains. Northeast India (at the confluence of Indo-Malayan, Indo-Chinese, and Indian biogeographical realms) has a predominantly humid sub-tropical climate with hot, humid summers, severe monsoons, and mild winters. Along with the west coast of India, this region has some of the Indian sub-continent's last remaining rain forests, which support diverse flora and fauna and several crop species. Reserves of petroleum and natural gas in the region are estimated to constitute a fifth of India's total potential.

The region is covered by the mighty Brahmaputra-Barak river systems and their tributaries. Geographically, apart from the Brahmaputra, Barak and Imphal valleys and some flat lands in between the hills of Meghalaya and Tripura, the remaining two-thirds of the area is hilly terrain interspersed with valleys and plains; the altitude varies from almost sea-level to over 7,000 metres (23,000 ft) above MSL. The region's high rainfall, averaging around 10,000 millimetres (390 in) and above, creates problems of ecosystem, high seismic activity, and floods. The states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim have a montane climate with cold, snowy winters and mild summers.

Topography[edit]

Highest peaks[edit]

Mt. Kanchenjunga, Sikkim
Teesta River, Sikkim

Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain peak in the world rising to an altitude of 8,586 m (28,169 ft), lies in-between the state Sikkim and adjacent country Nepal.

Mountains and hills by state
Peak State Range/Region Height (m) Height (ft) Coordinates
Kangchenjunga (shared with Nepal) Sikkim Eastern Himalaya 8,586 28,169 27°42′11″N 88°08′53″E / 27.703°N 88.148°E / 27.703; 88.148
Kangto (shared with Tibet) Arunachal Pradesh Eastern Himalaya 7,090 23,261 27°51′54″N 92°31′59″E / 27.865°N 92.533°E / 27.865; 92.533
Mount Saramati (Shared with Myanmar) Nagaland Naga Hills 3,841 12,602 25°44′31″N 95°01′59″E / 25.742°N 95.033°E / 25.742; 95.033
Mount Iso (also known as Tenipu) Manipur Senapati District 2,994 9,823 25°31′52″N 94°05′06″E / 25.531°N 94.085°E / 25.531; 94.085
Phawngpui (Blue Mountain) Mizoram Saiha District 2,165 7,103 22°37′55″N 93°02′20″E / 22.632°N 93.039°E / 22.632; 93.039
Shillong Peak Meghalaya Khasi Hills 1,965 6,447 25°31′55″N 91°51′04″E / 25.532°N 91.851°E / 25.532; 91.851
Unnamed peak near Laike Assam Dima Hasao District 1,960 6,430 25°19′16″N 93°27′11″E / 25.321°N 93.453°E / 25.321; 93.453
Betalongchhip Tripura Jampui Hills 930 3,051 23°48′36″N 92°15′40″E / 23.810°N 92.261°E / 23.810; 92.261

Brahmaputra River Basin[edit]

Brahmaputra river basin

Tributaries of the Brahmaputra River in Northeast India:

Climate[edit]

Northeast India has a subtropical climate that is influenced by its relief and influences from the southwest and northeast monsoons,[21][22] the Himalayas to the north, the Meghalaya plateau to the south and the hills of Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur to the east influences the climate.[23] Since monsoon winds originating from the Bay of Bengal move northeast, these mountains force the moist winds upwards, causing them to cool adiabatically and condense into clouds, releasing heavy precipitation on these slopes,[23] it is the rainiest region in the country, with many places receiving an average annual precipitation of 2,000 mm (79 in), which is mostly concentrated in summer during the monsoon season.[23] Cherrapunji, located on the Meghalaya plateau is one of the rainiest place in the world with an annual precipitation of 11,777 mm (463.7 in).[23] Temperatures are moderate in the Brahmaputra and Barak valley river plains which decreases with altitude in the hilly areas,[23] at the highest altitudes, there is permanent snow cover.[23]

Temperature[edit]

Temperatures vary by altitude with the warmest places being in the Brahmaputra and Barak River plains and the coldest at the highest altitudes,[24] it is also influenced by proximity to the sea with the valleys and western areas being close to the sea, which moderates temperatures.[24] Generally, temperatures in the hilly and mountainous areas are generally lower than the plains which lie at a lower altitude.[25] Summer temperatures tend to be more uniform than winter temperatures due to high cloud cover and humidity.[26]

In the Brahmaputra and Barak valley river plains, mean winter temperatures vary between 16 to 17 °C (61 to 63 °F) while mean summer temperatures are around 28 °C (82 °F).[24] The highest summer temperatures occur in the West Tripura plain with Agartala, the capital of Tripura having mean maximum summer temperatures ranging between 33 to 35 °C (91 to 95 °F) in April.[27] The highest temperatures in summer occur before the arrival of monsoons and thus eastern areas have the highest temperatures in June and July where the monsoon arrives later than western areas;[27] in the Cachar Plain, located south of the Brahmaputra plain, temperatures are higher than the Brahmaputra plain although the temperature range is smaller owing to higher cloud cover and the monsoons that moderate night temperatures year round.[27][25]

In the mountainous areas of Arunachal Pradesh, the Himalayan ranges in the northern border with India and China experience the lowest temperatures with heavy snow during winter and temperatures that drop below freezing.[25] Areas with altitudes exceeding 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) receive snowfall during winters and have cool summers.[25] Below 2,000 metres (6,562 ft) above sea level, winter temperatures reach up to 15 °C (59 °F) during the day with nights dropping to zero while summers are cool, with a mean maximum of 25 °C (77 °F) and a mean minimum of 15 °C (59 °F).[25] In the hilly areas of Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram, winters are cold while summers are cool.[26]

The plains in Manipur has colder winter minimums than what is warranted by its elevation owing to being surrounded by hills on all sides,[28] this is due to temperature inversions during winter nights when cold air descends from the hills into the valleys below and its geographic location which prevents winds that bring hot temperatures and humidity from coming into the Manipur plain.[28]

Rainfall[edit]

The southwest monsoon is responsible for bringing 90% of the annual rainfall to the region.[29] April to late October are the months where most of the rainfall in Northeast India occurs with June and July being the rainiest months.[29] Southern areas are the first to receive the monsoon (May or June) with the Brahmaputra valley and the mountainous north receiving later (later May or June);[29] in the hilly parts of Mizoram, the closer proximity to the Bay of Bengal causes it to experience early monsoons with June being the wettest season.[29]

High risk seismic zone[edit]

India Plate and other tectonic plates

The North Eastern Region of India is a mega-earthquake prone zone caused by active fault planes beneath formed by the convergence of three tectonic plates viz. India Plate, Eurasian Plate and Burma Plate. Historically the region has suffered from two great earthquakes (M > 8.0) – 1897 Assam earthquake and 1950 Assam-Tibet earthquake – and about 20 large earthquakes (8.0 > M > 7.0) since 1897.[30][31] The 1950 Assam-Tibet earthquake is still the largest earthquake in India.

Wildlife[edit]

Flora[edit]

WWF has identified the entire Eastern Himalayas as a priority Global 200 Ecoregion. Conservation International has upscaled the Eastern Himalaya hotspot to include all the eight states of Northeast India, along with the neighbouring countries of Bhutan, southern China and Myanmar.

The region has been identified by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research as a centre of rice germplasm. The National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), India, has highlighted the region as being rich in wild relatives of crop plants, it is the centre of origin of citrus fruits. Two primitive variety of maize, Sikkim Primitive 1 and 2, have been reported from Sikkim (Dhawan, 1964), although jhum cultivation, a traditional system of agriculture, is often cited as a reason for the loss of forest cover of the region, this primary agricultural economic activity practised by local tribes supported the cultivation of 35 varieties of crops. The region is rich in medicinal plants and many other rare and endangered taxa, its high endemism in both higher plants, vertebrates, and avian diversity has qualified it as a biodiversity hotspot.

The following figures highlight the biodiversity significance of the region:[32]

  • 51 forest types are found in the region, broadly classified into six major types — tropical moist deciduous forests, tropical semi evergreen forests, tropical wet evergreen forests, subtropical forests, temperate forests and alpine forests.
  • Out of the nine important vegetation types of India, six are found in the North Eastern Region.
  • These forests harbour 8,000 out of 15,000 species of flowering plants. In floral species richness, the highest diversity is reported from the states of Arunachal Pradesh (5000 species) and Sikkim (4500 species) amongst the North Eastern states.
  • According to the Indian Red Data Book, published by the Botanical Survey of India, 10 percent of the flowering plants in the country are endangered. Of the 1500 endangered floral species, 800 are reported from Northeast India.
  • Most of the North Eastern states have more than 60% of their area under forest cover, a minimum suggested coverage for the hill states in the country in order to protect from erosion.
  • Northeast India is a part of Indo-Burma hotspot. This hotspot is the second largest in the word, next only to the Mediterranean Basin, with an area 2,206,000 square kilometres (852,000 sq mi) among the 25 identified.[citation needed]

Fauna[edit]

The International Council for Bird Preservation, UK identified the Assam plains and the Eastern Himalaya as an Endemic Bird Area (EBA). The EBA has an area of 220,000 km2 following the Himalayan range in the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Nepal, Myanmar and the Indian states of Sikkim, northern West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, southern Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram. Because of a southward occurrence of this mountain range in comparison to other Himalayan ranges, this region has a distinctly different climate, with warmer mean temperatures and fewer days with frost, and much higher rainfall, this has resulted in the occurrence of a rich array of restricted-range bird species. More than two critically endangered species, three endangered species, and 14 vulnerable species of birds are in this EBA. Stattersfield et al. (1998) identified 22 restricted range species, out of which 19 are confined to this region and the remaining three are present in other endemic and secondary areas. Eleven of the 22 restricted-range species found in this region are considered as threatened (Birdlife International 2001), a number greater than in any other EBA of India.[citation needed]

WWF has identified the following priority ecoregions in North-East India:

Brahmaputra Valley Semi Evergreen Forests
Eastern Himalayan Broadleaved Forests
Eastern Himalayan Sub-alpine Coniferous Forests
India–Myanmar Pine Forests[citation needed]

National Parks[edit]

National park Location State Area (km2) Importance Vegetation
Namdapha National Park Changlang district Arunachal Pradesh 1,985 Largest protected area in Eastern Himalaya Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests, montane forests
Manas National Park Barpeta district Assam 950 UNESCO World Heritage Site Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Kaziranga National Park Golaghat and Nagaon districts Assam [33] 882 UNESCO World Heritage Site Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests, Terai-Duar savanna and grasslands
Khangchendzonga National Park North Sikkim district Sikkim 850 UNESCO Mixed World Heritage Site and highest altitude wildlife protected area in India Sub-tropical to Alpine, Krummholz (stunted forest)[34]
Mouling National Park Upper Siang, West Siang and East Siang districts Arunachal Pradesh 483 Tropical to Temperate forests
Dibru-Saikhowa National Park Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts Assam 350 Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests|
Balphakram National Park South Garo Hills district Meghalaya 220 Sub-tropical evergreen deciduous forests
Intangki National Park Peren district Nagaland 202 Temperate evergreen forests
Nameri National Park Sonitpur district Assam 200 Brahmaputra Valley semi-evergreen forests
Murlen National Park Champhai district Mizoram 100 Montane sub-tropical semi-evergreen forest[35]
Orang National Park Darrang and Sonitpur Assam 79 Eastern seasonal swamp forests, Eastern Himalayan moist mixed deciduous forests, eastern wet alluvial grasslands[36]
Phawngpui National Park Lawngtlai district Mizoram 50 Temperate forests[37]
Nokrek National Park West Garo Hills district Meghalaya 48 Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests
Sirohi National Park Ukhrul district Manipur 41 Mizoram-Manipur-Kachin rainforest
Keibul Lamjao National Park Bishnupur district Manipur 40 World's only floating National park Phumdi (floating marshes)
Bison (Rajbari) National Park South Tripura district Tripura 32 Tropical semi-evergreen and moist deciduous forests
Clouded Leopard National Park Sepahijala district Tripura 5 Tropical and subtropical moist broadleaf forests

Demographics[edit]

The total population of Northeast India is 46 million. 68 percent of the total population live in Assam alone.

State Population Males Females Sex Ratio Literacy % Rural Population Urban Population Area (km²) Density (/km²)
Arunachal Pradesh 1,383,727 713,912 669,815 938 65.38 870,087 227,881 83,743 17
Assam 31,205,576 15,939,443 15,266,133 958 72.19 23,216,288 3,439,240 78,438 397
Manipur 2,570,390 1,290,171 1,280,219 992 79.21 1,590,820 575,968 22,327 122
Meghalaya 2,966,889 1,491,832 1,475,057 989 74.43 1,864,711 454,111 22,429 132
Mizoram 1,097,206 555,339 541,867 976 91.33 447,567 441,006 21,081 52
Nagaland 1,978,502 1,024,649 953,853 931 79.55 1,647,249 342,787 16,579 119
Sikkim 610,577 323,070 287,507 890 81.42 480,981 59,870 7,096 86
Tripura 3,673,917 1,874,376 1,799,541 960 87.22 2,653,453 545,750 10,486 350

Largest cities[edit]

According to 2011 Census of India, the largest cities in Northeast India are

Rank City Type State Population Rank City Type State Population
1 Guwahati UA Assam 1,260,419 9 Jorhat UA Assam 153,249
2 Agartala City Tripura 522,613 10 Nagaon UA Assam 147,137
3 Imphal UA Manipur 414,288 11 Tinsukia UA Assam 125,637
4 Dimapur City Nagaland 379,769 12 Dhubri UA Assam 109,234
5 Shillong UA Meghalaya 354,325 13 Tezpur UA Assam 100,477
6 Aizawl City Mizoram 291,822 14 Kohima UA Nagaland 100,000
7 Silchar UA Assam 228,985 15 Gangtok City Sikkim 98,658
8 Dibrugarh UA Assam 154,019 16 Itanagar City Arunachal Pradesh 95,650

UA: Urban Agglomeration[38]

Languages[edit]

Northeast India constitutes a single linguistic region with about 220 languages in multiple language families (Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan, Tai–Kadai, Austroasiatic)[39] that share common structural features.[40] Assamese, an Indo-Aryan language spoken mostly in the Brahmaputra Valley, developed as a lingua franca for many speech communities. Assamese-based pidgin/creoles have developed in Nagaland (Nagamese) and Arunachal (Nefamese),[41] though their use has been on a decline in recent times. The Austro-Asiatic family is represented by the Khasi, Jaintia and War languages of Meghalaya. A small number of Tai–Kadai languages (Ahom, Tai Phake, Khamti, etc.) are also spoken. Sino-Tibetan is represented by a number of languages that differ significantly from each other,[42] some of which are: Bodo, Rabha, Karbi, Mising, Tiwa, Deori, Biate etc. (Assam); Garo, Biate (Meghalaya) Ao, Angami, Sema, Lotha, Konyak etc.(Nagaland); Mizo, Hmar, Chakma (Mizoram); Hrusso, Tanee, Nisi, Adi, Abor, Nocte, Apatani, Misimi etc. (Arunachal). Meitei is the official language in Manipur, the dominant language of the Imphal Valley; while Naga languages such as Poumai, Mao, Maram, Rongmei (Kabui) and Tangkul, and Kuki languages such as Thadou, Hmar and Paite predominate in individual hill areas of the state.

Among other Indo-Aryan languages, Bengali is spoken in South Assam in the Barak Valley. Besides the Sino-Tibetan Tripuri language, Bengali is a majority language in Tripura. Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language, is dominant in Sikkim, besides the Sino-Tibetan languages Limbu, Bhutia and Lepcha. Bengali was the official language of Colonial Assam for about forty years from the 1830s.

Official languages[edit]

State Official Languages[43]
Arunachal Pradesh Hindi, English
Assam Assamese, Bengali (in the Barak Valley), Bodo (in Bodoland)
Manipur Meiteilon
Meghalaya Khasi, Pnar, Garo, Hindi, English
Mizoram Mizo, English
Nagaland English[44]
Sikkim Nepali, English
Tripura Bengali, Kokborok

Etymology of state names[edit]

Name of state Origin Literal meaning
Arunachal Pradesh Sanskrit Land of the rising sun
Assam Native Terrain/Ahom people[45]
Manipur Sanskrit Land abundant with jewels, adopted in the 18th century
Meghalaya Sanskrit Abode of the clouds, coined by Shiba P. Chatterjee
Mizoram Native Mizo language Land of the Mizo people
Nagaland English Land of the Naga people
Sikkim Limbu Language New House – Derived from the word "Sukhim", "Su" meaning new and "Khim" meaning house
Tripura Native Kokborok Sanskrit version of native names: Tripra, Tuipura, Twipra, Tippera etc.

Endangered languages[edit]

Given the diverse population in the region with only a few widely spoken ones recognised as the official languages by both the state and central governments, a large number of languages from the North Eastern Region of India have become vulnerable. Without proper teaching and preservation efforts, the already underdeveloped literature of the endangered languages are on the verge of extinction. Additionally, the younger generation are rapidly adopting the widely spoken languages to secure employment and livelihood.[46]

Religions[edit]

Religion in Northeast India (2011)

  Hinduism (54.02%)
  Islam (25.05%)
  Christianity (17.24%)
  Buddhism (1.37%)
  Jainism (0.07%)
  Sikhism (0.07%)
  Other religions (1.97%)
  Not Stated (0.19%)
Religious population in North Eastern Region, according to 2011 Census of India[47]
State Hinduism Islam Christianity Buddhism Jainism Sikhism Other Religions Religion Not Stated
Arunachal Pradesh 401,876 27,045 418,732 162,815 771 3,287 362,553 6,648
Assam 19,180,759 10,679,345 1,165,867 54,993 25,949 20,672 27,118 50,873
Manipur 1,181,876 239,836 1,179,043 7,084 1,692 1,527 233,767 10,969
Meghalaya 342,078 130,399 2,213,027 9,864 627 3,045 258,271 9,578
Mizoram 30,136 14,832 956,331 93,411 376 286 808 1,026
Nagaland 173,054 48,963 1,739,651 6,759 2,655 1,890 3,214 2,316
Sikkim 352,662 9,867 60,522 167,216 314 1,868 16,300 1,828
Tripura 3,063,903 316,042 159,882 125,385 860 1,070 1,514 5,261
Total 24,726,344 11,466,329 7,893,055 627,527 33,244 33,645 903,545 88,499

Ethnic Groups[edit]

Northeast India has over 220 ethnic groups and equal number of dialects in which Bodo form the largest indegenous ethnic group[citation needed]. The hills states in the region like Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland are predominantly inhabited by tribal people with a degree of diversity even within the tribal groups. The region's population results from ancient and continuous flows of migrations from Tibet, Indo-Gangetic India, the Himalayas, present Bangladesh and Myanmar.[48]

Major Communities[edit]


Culture[edit]

State Symbols[edit]

Arunachal Pradesh Assam Manipur Meghalaya
Animal Mithun (Bos frontalis) Wild Bos frontalis Upparabeeranahalli.jpg Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) Rhinoceros unicornis, Kaziranga (2006).jpg Sangai (Rucervus eldii eldii) Cervus eldii4.jpg Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) Clouded leopard.jpg
Bird Hornbill (Buceros bicornis) Great-Hornbill.jpg White-winged duck (Asarcornis scutulata) White-winged.wood.duck.arp.jpg Mrs. Hume's pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae) Syrmaticus humiae.jpg Hill myna (Gracula religiosa) Gracula religiosa Deothang Bhutan 1.jpg
Flower Foxtail orchid (Rhynchostylis retusa) Rhynchostylis retusa.JPG Foxtail orchid (Rhynchostylis retusa) Rhynchostylis retusa.JPG Siroi lily (Lilium mackliniae) Siroi Lily.jpg Lady’s Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum insigne) Paphiopedilum insigne Orchi 01.jpg
Tree Hollong (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus) Dipterocarpus macrocarpus Hollong young leafIMG 1920 05.jpg Hollong (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus) Dipterocarpus macrocarpus Hollong young leafIMG 1920 05.jpg Uningthou (Phoebe hainesiana) Phoebe hainesiana north Bengal AJTJ.JPG Gamhar (Gmelina arborea) Kamari (Nepalese- कामरी) (3394494165).jpg
Emblem Seal of Arunachal Pradesh Seal of Assam Seal of Assam.png Seal of Manipur Seal of Meghalaya Seal of Meghalaya.svg
Mizoram Nagaland Sikkim Tripura
Animal Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar) Himalayan Serow Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary East Sikkim Sikkim India 13.02.2016.jpg Mithun (Bos frontalis) Wild Bos frontalis Upparabeeranahalli.jpg Red panda (Ailurus fulgens) RedPandaFullBody.JPG Phayre's leaf monkey (Trachypithecus phayrei) Phayre's Langur, Trachypithecus phayrei in Phu Khieo Wildlife Sanctuary (21134240148).jpg
Bird Mrs. Hume's pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae) Syrmaticus humiae.jpg Blyth's tragopan (Tragopan blythii) Tragopan blythii01.jpg Blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus) Blood Pheasant.jpg Green imperial pigeon (Ducula aenea) DuculaAenea.JPG
Flower Red Vanda (Renanthera imschootiana) Renanthera imschootiana 01.jpg Tree rhododendron (Rhododendron arboreum) Manaslu-Circuit Rhododendron.jpg Noble dendrobium (Dendrobium nobile) Dendrobium nobile - flower view 01.jpg Indian rose chestnut (Mesua ferrea) Flowers of Mesua ferrea Kaziranga TR AJTJ P1010329.JPG
Tree Indian rose chestnut (Mesua ferrea) MesuaFerrea IronWood.jpg Alder (Alnus nepalensis) Alnus nepalensis.JPG Rhododendron (Rhododendron niveum) Rhododendron niveum AJT Johnsingh P1020212.JPG Agarwood (Aquillaria agallocha)
Emblem Seal of Mizoram Seal of Mizoram.svg Seal of Nagaland Kham-sum-ongdu Seal of Sikkim color.png Seal of Tripura Seal of Tripura.svg

Northeast India cuisines[edit]

State Staple diet Popular dishes Related article
Arunachal Pradesh Rice, fish, meat, leaf vegetables Thukpa, momo, apong (rice beer) Cuisine of Arunachal Pradesh
Assam Rice, fish, meat, green leafy vegetables Assam tea, khar, tenga, pura, pitha, tamul (betel nut) – paan, rice beer Assamese cuisine
Manipur Rice, fish, local vegetables Eromba, u-morok, singju, ngari (fermented fish), kangshoi Cuisine of Manipur
Meghalaya Rice, spiced meat, fish Jadoh, ki kpu, minil, nakham (dried fish), momo, bamboo shoot Cuisine of Meghalaya
Mizoram Rice, fish, meat Bai, bekang (fermented soya beans), sa-um (fermented pork), sawhchiar
Nagaland Rice, meat, stewed or steamed vegetables fermented bamboo shoot, smoked pork and beef, axone, bhut jolokia Naga cuisine
Sikkim Rice, meat, dairy products Thukpa, momo, sha Phaley, gundruk, sinki, sel roti Sikkimese cuisine
Tripura Rice, fish, meat Fish stew, bamboo shoot, fermented fish Tripuri cuisine

Arts[edit]

Sattriya (from Assam) and Manipuri dance (from Manipur) have been listed as classical dances of India. Besides these, all tribes in the Northeast India have their own folk dances associated with their religion and festivals, the tribal heritage in the region is rich with the practice of hunting, land cultivation and indigenous crafts. The rich culture is vibrant and visible with the traditional attires of each community.[citation needed]

All states in Northeast India share the handicrafts of bamboo and cane, wood carving, making traditional weapons and musical instruments, pottery and handloom weaving. Traditional tribal attires are made of thick fabrics primarily with cotton.[49] Assam silk is a famous industry in the region.

State Traditional Performing Arts Traditional Visual Arts Traditional Crafts
Arunachal Pradesh Wancho dances, Idu Mishmi dance, Digaru Mishmi Buiya dance, Khampti dance, Ponung dance, Sadinuktso[50] Cane and bamboo, cotton and wool weaving, wood carving, blacksmithy (hand tools, weapons, ornaments, dishes, sacred bells and smoking pipes)[50][51]
Assam Sattriya, Bagurumba, Bihu dance, Bhaona (For more see Music of Assam) Hastividyarnava (For more see Fine Arts of Assam) Cane and bamboo, bell metal and brass, silk, toy and mask making, pottery and terracotta, jewellery, musical instruments making, boat making, paints
Manipur Manipuri dance (Ras Lila), Kartal Cholam, Manjira Cholom, Khuba Kishei, Pung Cholam, Lai-Haraoba Cotton textile, bamboo crafts (hats, baskets), pottery[51][49]
Meghalaya Nongkrem, Shad suk, Behdienkhlam, Wangala, Lahoo dance [52][51] (For more see Music of Meghalaya) Making hand tools and weapons, musical instruments (drums), cane and bamboo work, weaving traditional attires, jewellery making (gold, coral, glass), wall engravings, wood carving[51][53]
Mizoram Cheraw, Khuallam, Chheih-Lam, Chai, Rallu-Lam, Solakia, Sarlamkai, Par-lam, Sakei Lu Lam[54] (For more see Music of Mizoram) Traditional hand tools, weapons and textile work, bamboo and cane handicrafts[55][51]
Nagaland Zeliang dance, war dance, Nruirolians (cock dance) (For more see Music of Nagaland) Cane and bamboo crafts, traditional hand tools, weapons and textile work, wood carving, pottery, ornaments for traditional attire, musical instruments (drum and trumpet)[51]
Sikkim Chu Faat dance, Lu Khangthamo, Gha To Kito, Rechungma, Maruni, Tamang Selo, Singhi Chaam, Yak Chaam, Khukuri dance, Rumtek Chaam (mask dance)[56][57][58] (See also Music of Sikkim) Thangka (showcasing Buddhist teachings on cotton canvas using vegetable dyes)[57] Handmade paper, carpet making, woollen textile, wood carving[57]
Tripura Goria dance, Jhum dance, Lebang dance, Mamita dance, Mosak sulmani dance, Hojagiri dance, Bizhu dance, Wangala, Hai-hak dance, Sangrai dance, Owa dance Cane and bamboo, weaving and handloom, sitalpati (mat making), wood carving,[51] string and wind musical instruments

Administration[edit]

States and sub-divisions[edit]

State Code Capital Districts Sub-division Type Number of Subdivisions
Arunachal Pradesh AR Itanagar 20 Circle 149
Assam AS Dispur 33 Sub-division 78
Manipur MN Imphal 9 Sub-division 38
Meghalaya ML Shillong 11 Community Development Block 39
Mizoram MZ Aizawl 8 Community Development Block 22
Nagaland NL Kohima 11 Circle 33
Sikkim SK Gangtok 4 Sub-division 9
Tripura TR Agartala 8 Mahakuma 23
Autonomous Administrative Divisions in North Eastern States
State Autonomous Division Establishment
Assam Bodoland Territorial Council February 2003
Dima Hasao district February 1970
Karbi Anglong district
Mising Autonomous Council 1995
Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council 1995
Manipur Sadar Hills Autonomous District Council
Meghalaya Garo Hills Autonomous District Council
Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council July 2012
Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council
Mizoram Chakma Autonomous District Council April 1972
Lai Autonomous District Council April 1972
Mara Autonomous District Council May 1971
Tripura Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council January 1982

Government[edit]

The northeastern states, having 3.8% of India's total population, are allotted 25 out of a total of 543 seats in the Lok Sabha. This is 4.6% of the total number of seats.[citation needed]

State Chief Minister (2015 – )[59] Governor (2015 – )[60] High Court Chief Justice
Arunachal Pradesh Pema Khandu Shri Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya Guwahati High Court (Itanagar Bench) Justice Ajit Singh
Assam Sarbananda Sonowal Professor Jagdish Mukhi Guwahati High Court Justice Ajit Singh
Manipur Nongthombam Biren Singh Najma Heptulla Manipur High Court Justice N. Kotiswar Singh
Meghalaya Mukul Sangma Banwarilal Purohit Meghalaya High Court Justice Dinesh Maheshwari
Mizoram Lal Thanhawla Lt. General (Retd.) Nirbhay Sharma Guwahati High Court (Aizawl Bench) Justice Ajit Singh
Nagaland T. R. Zeliang Shri Padmanabha Balakrishna Acharya Guwahati High Court (Kohima Bench) Justice Ajit Singh
Sikkim Pawan Kumar Chamling Shri Shriniwas Dadasaheb Patil Sikkim High Court Justice Satish K. Agnihotri
Tripura Manik Sarkar Shri Tathagata Roy Tripura High Court Justice Tinlianthang Vaiphei

21st century separatist unrest[edit]

In 1947 Indian independence and partition resulted in the North East becoming a landlocked region, this exacerbated the isolation that has been recognised, but not studied. East Pakistan controlled access to the Indian Ocean.[61] The mountainous terrain has hampered the construction of road and railways connections in the region.[citation needed]

The militant groups have formed an alliance to fight against the governments of India, Bhutan, and Myanmar, and now use the term "Western Southeast Asia" (WESEA) to refer to the region,[62] the separatist groups include the Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL), People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (PREPAK), People's Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak-Pro (PREPAK-Pro), Revolutionary People's Front (RPF) and United National Liberation Front (UNLF) of Manipur, Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) of Meghalaya, Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO), which operates in Assam and North Bengal, National Democratic Front of Bodoland and ULFA of Assam and the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT).[63]

Malom Massacre[edit]

Some political groups have argued for creating states independent of India, on 2 November 2000, in Malom, a town in the Imphal Valley of Manipur, ten civilians were shot and killed while waiting at a bus stop. The incident, known as the "Malom Massacre",[64][65] was allegedly committed by the Assam Rifles, one of the Indian Paramilitary forces operating in the state.[66][67] This incident resulted in continuing unrest in the area.

Economy[edit]

The Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region (MDoNER) is the deciding body under Government of India for socio-economic development in the region. The North Eastern Council under MDoNER serves as the regional governing body for Northeast India, the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation Ltd. (NEDFi) is a Public Limited Company providing assistance to micro, small, medium and large enterprises within the north eastern region (NER). Other organisations under MDoNER include North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited (NERAMAC), Sikkim Mining Corporation Limited (SMC) and North Eastern Handlooms and Handicrafts Development Corporation (NEHHDC).

Industries[edit]

Agriculture[edit]

The economy is agrarian. Little land is available for settled agriculture. Along with settled agriculture, jhum (slash-and-burn) cultivation is still practised by a few indigenous groups of people, the inaccessible terrain and internal disturbances has made rapid industrialisation difficult in the region.[citation needed]

Tourism[edit]

Living Root Bridges

Northeast India is also the home of many Living root bridges; in Meghalaya, these can be found in the southern Khasi and Jaintia Hills.[68][69][70] They are still widespread in the region, though as a practice they are fading out, with many examples having been destroyed in floods or replaced by more standard structures in recent years.[71] Living root bridges have also been observed in the state of Nagaland, near the Indo-Myanmar border.[72]

Transportation[edit]

Air[edit]

Inside Guwahati airport (Assam)
Agartala airport (Tripura)

States in the North Eastern Region are well connected by air-transport conducting regular flights to all major cities in the country, the states also own several small airstrips for military and private purposes which may be accessed using Pawan Hans helicopter services. The region currently has two international airpots viz. Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport and Bir Tikendrajit International Airport conducting flights to Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and Bhutan. While the airport in Sikkim is under-construction, Bagdogra Airport (IATA: IXBICAO: VEBD) remains the closest domestic airport to the state.

Public airports operational in Northeast India
State Airport City IATA Code
Arunachal Pradesh Itanagar Airport (Under construction) Itanagar
Assam Dibrugarh Airport Dibrugarh DIB
Jorhat Airport Jorhat JRH
Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport Guwahati GAU
Lilabari Airport Lakhimpur IXI
Rupsi Airport Dhubri RUP
Silchar Airport Silchar IXS
Tezpur Airport Tezpur TEZ
Manipur Bir Tikendrajit International Airport Imphal IMF
Meghalaya Baljek Airport Tura VETU (ICAO)
Shillong Airport Shillong SHL
Mizoram Lengpui Airport Aizawl AJL
Nagaland Dimapur Airport Dimapur DMU
Sikkim Pakyong Airport (Under construction) Gangtok VEPY (ICAO)
Tripura Agartala Airport Agartala IXA

Railway[edit]

The northeast India railway network is managed by the Northeast Frontier Railway zone of Indian Railways. The railway network in the region is poor with the states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim remaining almost disconnected till date (11 June 2017). Projects are underway to extend the network and connect all the capital cities in the region.[73]

Look East Policy[edit]

In the 21st century, there has been recognition among policy makers and economists of the region that the main stumbling block for economic development of the Northeastern region is the disadvantageous geographical location,[74] it was argued that globalisation propagates deterritorialisation and a borderless world which is often associated with economic integration. With 98 percent of its borders with China, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal, Northeast India appears to have a better scope for development in the era of globalisation,[75] as a result, a new policy developed among intellectuals and politicians that one direction the Northeastern region must be looking to as a new way of development lies with political integration with the rest of India and economic integration with the rest of Asia, with East and Southeast Asia in particular, as the policy of economic integration with the rest of India did not yield much dividends. With the development of this new policy the Government of India directed its Look East policy towards developing the Northeastern region, this policy is reflected in the Year End Review 2004 of the Ministry of External Affairs, which stated that: "India’s Look East Policy has now been given a new dimension by the UPA Government. India is now looking towards a partnership with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ASEAN countries, both within BIMSTEC and the India-ASEAN Summit dialogue as integrally linked to economic and security interests, particularly for India’s East and North East region."[76]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Citations[edit]

  1. ^ a b "North East India international border". Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "North Eastern Council". Archived from the original on 15 April 2012. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Integration of Sikkim in North Eastern Council". Times of India. 10 December 2002. Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
  4. ^ "Evaluation of NEC funded projects in Sikkim" (PDF). NEC. 
  5. ^ "The first group of migrants to settle in this part of the country is perhaps the Austro-Asiatic language speaking people who came here from South-East Asia a few millennia before Christ. The second group of migrants came to Assam from the north, north-east and east, they are mostly the Tibeto-Burman language speaking people. From about the fifth century before Christ, there started a trickle of migration of the people speaking Indo-Aryan language from the Gangetic plain." (Taher 2011, p. 12)
  6. ^ Hazarika, M. 2006 "Neolithic Culture of Northeast India: A Recent Perspective on the Origins of Pottery and Agriculture." Ancient Asia, 1, doi:10.5334/aa.06104
  7. ^ "Chang K'ien had clearly realized the existence of a trade route between Sichuan and India via Yunnan and Burma or Assam" (Lahiri 1991, pp. 11–12)
  8. ^ Besatae in the Schoff translation and also sometimes used by Ptolemy, they are a people similar to Kirradai and they lived in the region between "Assam and Sichuan" (Casson 1989, pp. 214–242)
  9. ^ (Casson 1989, pp. 51–53)
  10. ^ (Watters 1905, p. 186)
  11. ^ Baruah, Sanjib (2004), Between South and Southeast Asia Northeast India and Look East Policy, Ceniseas Paper 4, Guwahati
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  13. ^ "Formation of North Eastern states from Assam". Retrieved 25 March 2012. 
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  21. ^ Dikshit 2014, p. 150.
  22. ^ Dikshit 2014, p. 151.
  23. ^ a b c d e f Dikshit 2014, p. 152.
  24. ^ a b c Dikshit 2014, p. 153.
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  26. ^ a b Dikshit 2014, p. 158.
  27. ^ a b c Dikshit 2014, p. 155.
  28. ^ a b Dikshit 2014, p. 157.
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  34. ^ "Khangchendzonga National Park". 
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  36. ^ "Orang Tiger Reserve". 
  37. ^ "Forest types of Mizoram". 
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  39. ^ (Moral 1997, p. 43)
  40. ^ (Moral 1997, p. 42)
  41. ^ (Moral 1997, pp. 43–44)
  42. ^ Blench, R. & Post, M. W. (2013). Rethinking Sino-Tibetan phylogeny from the perspective of Northeast Indian languages
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  44. ^ "Nagaland State Profile". 
  45. ^ "Ahoms also gave Assam and its language their name (Ahom and the modern ɒχɒm 'Assam' come from an attested earlier form asam, acam, probably from a Burmese corruption of the word Shan/Shyam, cf. Siam: Kakati 1962; 1–4)." (Masica 1993, p. 50)
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  47. ^ "Population By Religious Community". 
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  54. ^ "Mizoram handicrafts". 
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  58. ^ http://india.gov.in/my-governmentra/whos-who/chief-ministers
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  60. ^ Seventh Kamal Kumari Memorial Lecture.
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  62. ^ "NE rebels call general strike on I-Day". The Sangai Express. Archived from the original on 9 September 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2014. 
  63. ^ Anjuman Ara Begum (3 November 2010). "AFSPA and Unsolved massacres in Manipur". Twocircles.net. Retrieved 21 October 2012. 
  64. ^ Imphal Free Press. "Malom Massacre horror relived 13 years later". Archived from the original on 12 November 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2013. 
  65. ^ Nilanjana S. Roy (8 February 2011). "Torchbearers for Victims in a Violent Land". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  66. ^ Rahul Pathak (6 August 2004). "Why Malom is a big reason for Manipur anger against Army Act". The Indian Express. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
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  69. ^ "The Living-Root Bridge: The Symbol Of Benevolence". Riluk. 2016-10-10. Retrieved 2017-09-11. 
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  73. ^ Sachdeva, Gulshan. Economy of the North-East: Policy, Present Conditions and Future Possibilities. New Delhi: Konark Publishers, 2000, p. 145.
  74. ^ Thongkholal Haokip, India’s Northeast Policy: Continuity and Change, Man and Society – A Journal of North-East Studies, Vol. VII, Winter 2010, pp. 86–99.
  75. ^ Year End Review 2004, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. New Delhi.

Sources cited[edit]

Official Sites[edit]

Northeast India travel guide from Wikivoyage