|Major cities (2011 Census of India)|
|• Total||262,230 km2 (101,250 sq mi)|
|Population (2011 Census of India)|
|• Density||174.550/km2 (452.082/sq mi)|
|Time zone||Indian Standard Time (UTC+5:30)|
Northeast India (officially North Eastern Region, NER) is the easternmost region of India representing both a geographic and political administrative division of the country. It comprises eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. The Siliguri Corridor in West Bengal, with a width of 21 to 40 kilometres (13 to 25 mi), connects the North Eastern Region with East India. The region shares an international border of 5,182 kilometres (3,220 mi) (about 99 percent of its total geographical boundary) with several neighbouring countries – 1,395 kilometres (867 mi) with Tibet Autonomous Region, China in the north, 1,640 kilometres (1,020 mi) with Myanmar in the east, 1,596 kilometres (992 mi) with Bangladesh in the south-west, 97 kilometres (60 mi) with Nepal in the west, and 455 kilometres (283 mi) with Bhutan in the north-west. It comprises an area of 262,230 square kilometres (101,250 sq mi), almost 8 percent of that of India, and is one of the largest salients (panhandles) in the world.
The states of North Eastern Region are officially recognised under the North Eastern Council (NEC), constituted in 1971 as the acting agency for the development of the north eastern states. Long after induction of NEC, Sikkim formed part of the North Eastern Region as the eighth state in 2002. India's Look-East connectivity projects connect Northeast India to China and ASEAN.
The earliest settlers may have been Austroasiatic languages and Tibeto-Burman languages speakers from Southeast Asia, followed by Tibeto-Burmese from China and by 500 B.C. Indo-Aryans speakers from Gangetic Plains. Due to the bio- and crop diversity of the region, archaeological researchers believe that early settlers of Northeast India had domesticated several important plants. Writers believe that the 100 BC writings of Chinese explorer, Zhang Qian indicate an early trade route via Northeast India. The Periplus of the Erythraean Sea mention a people called Sêsatai in the region, who produced malabathron, so prized in the old world.
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. 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. 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
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. In 1926,it became a part of Pakokku Hill Tracts Districts of British Burma except Assam, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh until 1948,January 4.
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. 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.
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. The capital of Assam was shifted to Dispur, a part of Guwahati, and Shillong was designated as the capital of Meghalaya.
|Arunachal Pradesh||North-East Frontier Agency||Itanagar||1987 (earlier a Union Territory of India, constituted in 1971)|
|Assam||Pragjyotisha, Kamarupa||Shillong (till 1969), Dispur||1947|
|Manipur||Kangleipak||Imphal||1971 (earlier a Union Territory of India, constituted in 1956)|
|Meghalaya||Khasi hills, Jaintia hills and Garo hills||Shillong||1971|
|Mizoram||Lushai hills||Aizawl||1987 (earlier a Union Territory of India, constituted in 1971)|
|Tripura||Tipperah||Agartala||1971 (earlier a Union Territory of India, constituted in 1956)|
Seven Sister States
The Seven Sister States 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, 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.
World War II
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)
Arunachal Pradesh, a state in the Northeastern tip of India, is claimed by China as South Tibet. 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.
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 subcontinent's last remaining rainforests, 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 flatlands 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 the ecosystem, high seismic activity, and floods. The states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim have a montane climate with cold, snowy winters and mild summers.
Aerial view of Shillong
Sela Pass, Tawang (Arunachal Pradesh)
Bhalukpong, Arunachal Pradesh
Loktak lake, Manipur
Majuli Island, Assam
|Peak||State||Range/Region||Height (m)||Height (ft)||Coordinates|
|Kangchenjunga (shared with Nepal)||Sikkim||Eastern Himalaya||8,586||28,169|
|Kangto (shared with Tibet)||Arunachal Pradesh||Eastern Himalaya||7,090||23,261|
|Mount Saramati (Shared with Myanmar)||Nagaland||Naga Hills||3,841||12,602|
|Mount Iso (also known as Tenipu)||Manipur||Senapati District||2,994||9,823|
|Phawngpui (Blue Mountain)||Mizoram||Saiha District||2,165||7,103|
|Shillong Peak||Meghalaya||Khasi Hills||1,965||6,447|
|Unnamed peak near Laike||Assam||Dima Hasao District||1,960||6,430|
Brahmaputra River Basin
Tributaries of the Brahmaputra River in Northeast India:
- Beki River
- Bhogdoi River
- Dhansiri River
- Dibang River
- Dihing River
- Kameng River
- Kopili River
- Lohit River
- Manas River
- Sankosh River
- Subansiri River
- Teesta River
Northeast India has a subtropical climate that is influenced by its relief and influences from the southwest and northeast monsoons. 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. 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.
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. 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). Temperatures are moderate in the Brahmaputra and Barak valley river plains which decreases with altitude in the hilly areas. At the highest altitudes, there is permanent snow cover.
High risk seismic zone
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. The 1950 Assam-Tibet earthquake is still the largest earthquake in India.
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 center 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 center 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 practiced 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:
- 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 harbor 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 world, next only to the Mediterranean Basin, with an area 2,206,000 square kilometres (852,000 sq mi) among the 25 identified.
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.
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
|Animal||Mithun (Bos frontalis)||Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis)||Sangai (Rucervus eldii eldii)||Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)|
|Bird||Hornbill (Buceros bicornis)||White-winged duck (Asarcornis scutulata)||Mrs. Hume's pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae)||Hill myna (Gracula religiosa)|
|Flower||Foxtail orchid (Rhynchostylis retusa)||Foxtail orchid (Rhynchostylis retusa)||Siroi lily (Lilium mackliniae)||Lady's Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum insigne)|
|Tree||Hollong (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus)||Hollong (Dipterocarpus macrocarpus)||Uningthou (Phoebe hainesiana)||Gamhar (Gmelina arborea)|
|Animal||Himalayan serow (Capricornis thar)||Mithun (Bos frontalis)||Red panda (Ailurus fulgens)||Phayre's leaf monkey (Trachypithecus phayrei)|
|Bird||Mrs. Hume's pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae)||Blyth's tragopan (Tragopan blythii)||Blood pheasant (Ithaginis cruentus)||Green imperial pigeon (Ducula aenea)|
|Flower||Red Vanda (Renanthera imschootiana)||Tree rhododendron (Rhododendron arboreum)||Noble dendrobium (Dendrobium nobile)||Indian rose chestnut (Mesua ferrea)|
|Tree||Indian rose chestnut (Mesua ferrea)||Alder (Alnus nepalensis)||Rhododendron (Rhododendron niveum)||Agarwood (Aquillaria agallocha)|
The total population of Northeast India is 46 million with 68 percent of that living in Assam alone. Assam also has a higher population density of 397 persons per km² than the national average of 382 persons per km². The literacy rates in the states of the Northeastern region, except those in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, are higher than the national average of 74 percent. As per 2011 census, Meghalaya recorded the highest population growth of 27.8 percent among all the states of the region, higher than the national average at 17.64 percent; while Nagaland recorded the lowest in the entire country with a negative 0.5 percent.
Largest cities by population
According to 2011 Census of India, the largest cities in Northeast India are
UA: Urban Agglomeration
Northeast India constitutes a single linguistic region within the Indian national context, with about 220 languages in multiple language families (Indo-European, Trans-Himalayan/Sino-Tibetan, Kra–Dai, Austroasiatic, as well as some creole languages) that share a number of features that set them apart from most other areas of the Indian subcontinent.
|Arunachal Pradesh||Hindi, English|
|Assam||Assamese, Bengali (in the Barak Valley), Bodo (in Bodoland)|
|Meghalaya||Khasi, Garo, English|
|State||Hinduism||Islam||Christianity||Buddhism||Jainism||Sikhism||Other Religions||Religion Not Stated|
Northeast India has over 220 ethnic groups and equal number of dialects in which Bodo form the largest indigenous ethnic group. 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.
A Naga warrior in 1960
Shad suk Mynsiem, a Khasi festival
Aka tribe, Arunachal Pradesh
Women selling fruits in Senapati, Manipur
Princess of Sikkim in traditional royal dress
Tipra children in traditional attire grouping up for song presentation
|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, leaf vegetable||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||Bengali Cuisine, Tripuri cuisine|
Sattriya (from Assam) and Manipuri dance (from Manipur) have been listed as classical dances of India. Besides these, all tribes in 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.
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. 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||Cane and bamboo, cotton and wool weaving, wood carving, blacksmithy (hand tools, weapons, ornaments, dishes, sacred bells and smoking pipes)|
|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|
|Meghalaya||Nongkrem, Shad suk, Behdienkhlam, Wangala, Lahoo dance (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|
|Mizoram||Cheraw, Khuallam, Chheih-Lam, Chai, Rallu-Lam, Solakia, Sarlamkai, Par-lam, Sakei Lu Lam (For more see Music of Mizoram)||Traditional hand tools, weapons and textile work, bamboo and cane handicrafts|
|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)|
|Sikkim||Chu Faat dance, Lu Khangthamo, Gha To Kito, Rechungma, Maruni, Tamang Selo, Singhi Chaam, Yak Chaam, Khukuri dance, Rumtek Chaam (mask dance) (See also Music of Sikkim)||Thangka (showcasing Buddhist teachings on cotton canvas using vegetable dyes)||Handmade paper, carpet making, woollen textile, wood carving|
|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, string and wind musical instruments|
Sattriya dance (Assam)
Nyokum festival of Nyishi tribe (Arunachal Pradesh)
Dance of Angami tribe (Nagaland)
Students performing traditional dance at Jorethang (Sikkim)
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 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.
Tea garden in Darrang, Assam
Paddy fields in Manipur
Oil palm plantation in Mizoram
Local vegetables in Assam
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. 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. Living root bridges have also been observed in the state of Nagaland, near the Indo-Myanmar border.
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: IXB, ICAO: VEBD) remains the closest domestic airport to the state.
Railway in Northeast India is delineated as Northeast Frontier Railway zone of Indian Railways. The regional network is underdeveloped with the states of Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim remaining almost disconnected till date (11 June 2017). However, projects are underway to extend the network and connect all the capital cities in the region.
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