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Arunachal Pradesh

CAPITAL

ITANAGAR

AREA IN 1000 Sq. km

84

PRINCIPAL LANGUAGES

MONPA, MIJI, AKA, SHERDUPKEN

Arunachal Pradesh, bordered on the south by Assam state, on the west by Bhutan, on the north and northeast by China, and on the east by Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) is a sparsely populated mountainous area in the extreme northeastern part of the subcontinent. Arunachal Pradesh (Sanskrit for "Land of the Rising Sun") has an area of 83,743 sq km.

Most of Arunachal Pradesh is mountainous. Its terrain consists of lofty, haphazardly aligned ridges that separate deep valleys and rise to the peaks of the Great Himalayas. The state's main rivers are the Brahmaputra known in Arunachal Pradesh as the Siang, and its tributaries, the Tirap, the Lohit (ZayŁ Qu), the Subansiri, and the Bhareli. The climate of the foothills is subtropical; in the mountains, temperatures decrease rapidly with altitude. Rainfall averages between 2000 and 4000 mm (80 and 160 in) a year

Arunachal Pradesh has a single-chamber Legislative Assembly, which has 60 seats. The state sends three members to the Indian national parliament: one to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and two to the Lok Sabha (lower house). Local government is based on 12 administrative districts

History

The region that is now Arunachal Pradesh is mentioned in the Puranas (Sanskrit writings about the beginning of time), but little else is known of the state's early history. Part of Arunachal Pradesh was annexed by the Ahom kings of Assam in the 16th century. In 1826 Assam became part of British India, but efforts to bring Arunachal Pradesh under British administration did not begin until the 1880s. In 1912 the region became an administrative unit within Assam, called the North Eastern Frontier Tract (NEFT); in 1954 the NEFT became the North East Frontier Agency. Its northern boundary with Tibet has been disputed since 1913, when China rejected British proposals that the border should follow the crest of the Himalayas. This proposed border, known as the McMahon line, has served as the de facto boundary since. After the independence of India in 1947, China made claims to practically the whole area covered by the districts of East and West Kameng, Lower and Upper Subansiri, East and West Siang, and Lohit, arguing that the McMahon Line had never been accepted by China and was the result of British "aggression." Following this dispute, Chinese troops crossed the McMahon Line on August 26, 1959, and captured an Indian outpost at Longju, a few miles south of the line. They abandoned this in 1961 but in October 1962 crossed the line, this time in force. After first striking toward the Tanglha ridge and Tawang near the Bhutan border, the Chinese later extended their attack along the whole frontier. Deep inroads were made at a number of points. Later the Chinese agreed to withdraw approximately to the McMahon Line and in 1963 returned Indian prisoners of war

The region became the union territory of Arunachal Pradesh in 1972, and India's 24th state in December 1986.

Society and Culture

Most of the population of Arunachal Pradesh is of Asiatic origin and shows physical affinities with the peoples of Tibet and the Myanmar hill region. There are dozens of tribes and subtribes, each with a specific geographic distribution. In western Arunachal Pradesh the main tribes are the Nissi (Nishi or Dafla), Sulung, Sherdukpen, Aka, Monpa, Apa Tani, and Hill Miri. The Adi, the largest tribal group in the state, occupy the central region. The Mishmi occupy the northeastern hills, and the Wancho, Nocte, and Tangsa inhabit the southeastern district of Tirap.These tribal groups speak about 50 distinct languages and dialects, belonging mostly to the Tibeto-Burmese branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. They are often mutually unintelligible and, thus, Assamese, Hindi, and English are used as lingua francas in the region. As a rule, the tribes do not intermarry, and each follows distinct social, cultural, and religious practices. The most common religious practice is animism, in which deities of nature and various spirits are worshiped. Ritual sacrifice is also common, and the mithun (a domesticated gaur, or wild ox) is especially revered as a sacrificial animal. Hindu beliefs and practices have penetrated the region, especially among populations near the Assam lowlands. Tibetan Buddhism is found among groups near the Tibetan border, and some tribes along the Myanmar border practice the Southeast Asian form of this religion, Hinayana Buddhism.


Economy and Infrastructure

Arunachal Pradesh is well endowed with an abundant forest cover, mineral, and hydel power resources. the principal crops are rice. Maize, millet, wheat, pulses (edible seeds gathered from pea and bean crops), potatoes, sugarcane, fruit, and oilseeds are also important. Many areas depend on shifting cultivation (also known as slash-and-burn agriculture), in which trees and grasses are burned from an area so a crop may be planted for several seasons and then shifted to a new area. Industry is small scale and includes timber, rice, and oil mills; soap and candle making; sericulture (raising silkworms for the production of raw silk); and handicrafts. The economic potential of Arunachal Pradesh's forests and rivers, and of its coal, oil, and other mineral deposits has yet to be exploited, partly because rough terrain makes transportation difficult.Coal reserves of the state comprising of the Namchik-Namphuk coal mine in Tirap district, are estimated at 90 million tonnes and the crude oil reserves are estimated to be 1.5 million tonnes. Deposits of dolomite, limestone, graphite, quartzite, kyanite, mica, iron and copper are also reported to be found here.

The state's rugged terrain makes transport and communications extremely difficult. With few surfaced roads and no railways in Arunachal Pradesh, links with the rest of India are limited.

Tourist Centres

Places of tourist interest in the state include Bomdila, Tawang and the nearby Buddhist monastery, which happens to be the largest in India. Itanagar is famous for its excavated ruins of the historical Ita Fort, and the attractive Gyaker Sinyi or the Ganga Lake. Malinithan and Bhismaknagar are the two important archaeological sites in the state, and Parashuram Kund is a prominent pilgrimage site. Namdapha Wildlife sanctuary in the Changlang district is home to the rare Hoolock gibbon.