Meghalaya

Meghalaya is a small state in north-eastern India. It is a hilly strip in the eastern part of the country about 300 km long (East-West) and 100 km wide, with a total area of about 22,429 sq km. The population numbered 2,175,000 in 2000. The state is bounded on the north by Assam, with the Brahmaputra River as the border between them, and on the south by Bangladesh. The capital is Shillong (population 260,000).

Meghalaya was originally part of Assam, and became a separate state on 21 January, 1972.

The climate of Meghalaya is moderate but humid, the average annual rainfall going as high as 1200 cm in some areas, making it the wettest state of India. The town of Cherrapunjee, south of capital Shillong holds the world record for most rain in a calendar month while the village of Mawsynram, near town of Cherrapunjee holds the distinction of seeing the heaviest yearly rains. About one third of the state is forested. The ranges of the Garo Hills in the west, Khasi Hills, and Jaintia Hills in the east are not especially high, with Shillong Peak the highest point at 1,965 m. Many caves are known to exist with unique limestone structures forming curious stalactites and stalagmites.

Tribal peoples make up about 85 percent of Meghalaya's population. The largest group, comprising almost fifty percent of the population, are the Khasis (who call themselves Hynniewtreps or belonging to seven celestial families, in their local language), followed by the Garos (who call themselves Achik in local language), which were among those known to the British as "hill tribes". Garos comprise about a third of the population. Other groups include the Jaintias and the Hajong (40,000). About fifteen percent of the population is defined as non-tribal; these include about 54,000 Bengalis and 49,000 Shaikhs. Meghalaya is one of three states in India to have a Christian majority; the other two (Nagaland and Mizoram) are also in the north-east of India. Most Khasis are Presbyterian or Roman Catholic, while the majority of the Garos are Baptist.

Although the state government has been promoting tourism, separatist groups (ULFA and NDFB) have been using the Garo Hills recently as a base of operations; the rugged forested terrain and the border with Bangladesh make the hills a good hideout.


Districts

  • East Garo Hills
  • East Khasi Hills
  • Jaintia Hills
  • Ri Bhoi
  • South Garo Hills
  • West Garo Hills
  • West Khasi Hills



Notable personalities

  • Adolf Lu Hitler Marak
  • Dr. D.D. Lapang
  • P.A. Sangma





Politics

Facts and figures

  • Area: 22,429 km²
  • Population: 2,175,000 (2000)
    • Ethnic groups:
      • Khasi: 49%
      • Garo: 34%
      • Bengali: 2.5%
      • Shaikh: 2.3%
      • Hajong: 1.8%
      • Other: 10.4%
    • Religion:
      • Christian: 64.6%
      • Animist: 16.7%
      • Hindu: 14.7%
      • Muslim: 4%
  • Capital: Shillong (population 260,000)

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