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Gujarat

CAPITAL GANDHI NAGAR
AREA IN Sq. km 196,000
PRINCIPAL LANGUAGE GUJARATI

Gujarat is situated in the west coast of India. The state is bounded by the Arabian sea on the west, Pakistan and Rajasthan in the north and north-east respectively, Madhya Pradesh in the south-east and Maharashtra in the south. The state covers an area of 196,024 sq km (75,685 sq mi).

The name 'Gujarat' is said to have been derived from the Prakrit Gujjar Ratta or Gujjar Rashtra - the land of Gujjars - a tribe that entered India with the Huns in ancient time and wandering through Punjab and Rajasthan, settled in western India.

History

Signs of civilization in the region that is now Gujarat date back to the period from 3000 to 1500 BC. The region was part of the Mauryan Empire in the 3rd century BC under King Ashoka. In 1818 the English East India Company took control of Gujarat, administering the state through local princely rulers. With the independence of India in 1947, Gujarat became part of the state of Bombay. In 1960 Bombay state was split up, and Gujarat was formed from the northern and western portions, which were predominantly Gujarati-speaking areas. Most of the remainder of Bombay state became Maharashtra state, with a small portion going to Karnataka state.

Society and culture

The diverse ethnic groups represented in the Gujarati population may be broadly categorized as Indic (i.e., northern-derived) or Dravidian (southern-derived). The former include the Nagar Brahman, Bhatia, Bhadela, Rabari, and Mina castes (the Parsis, originally from Persia, represent a much later northern influx); among the peoples of southern origin are the Bhangi, Koli, Dubla, Naikda, and Macchi-Kharwa tribes. The rest of the population, including the aboriginal Bhil tribe, exhibit mixed characteristics. Members of the Scheduled (formerly "untouchable") Castes and of the aboriginal tribes form nearly one-fifth of the state's population. There is one entirely tribal district of Dangs. Ahmadabad district has the highest proportion of Scheduled Castes. Gujarati and Hindi are the official languages of the state. About 70% of the population are Hindus ahead of minorities of Muslims and Jains. About one-third of the population is urban. The most urbanized part of the state is the Ahmadabad-Vadodara (Baroda) industrial belt. Major towns that were once capitals of princely states are Rajkot, Junagadh, Bhavnagar (Bhaunagar), and Jamnagar.

The folklore and folk culture of Gujarat are traced to the mythology of Lord Krishna. Dance forms and festivals in honour Krishna exist, Garba and Bhavai being two examples. Among the most durable and effective of the state's cultural institutions are the trade and craft guilds known as mahajans which often solves disputes, acted as channels of philanthropy, and encouraged the arts. Gujarat’s handicrafts are famous the world over

Economy and infrastructure

About two-thirds of the population is engaged in agriculture, the gross area cropped amounting to about half of the total land area. Wheat and millet are the staple food crops, with rice production being concentrated in the wetter areas. Sugarcane production is increasing, while cotton, tobacco, and oilseeds (especially peanuts [groundnuts]) are profitable cash crops. Gujarat produces about one-third of India's peanut crop and about one-third of the country's tobacco. Cash crops are characteristic of the state's agricultural economy.

One of India's most industrialized states, Gujarat maintains a variety of industries, the principal ones being general and electrical engineering and the manufacture of textiles, vegetable oils, chemicals, soda ash, and cement. New industries include the production of fertilizers and petrochemicals. Petroleum production began in 1960, and an oil refinery is located at Vadodara.

A thermal-power station is located at Dhuvaran. The state also receives power from the Tarapur nuclear facility in Maharashtra state. The long-delayed Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada River was projected to become the state's largest producer of hydroelectric power and to provide water for extensive irrigation.

Gujarat has a total railway lengh of 5268 kms and total road length of 72950 kms when survey last conducted for 31st march, 1999. Its National Highways constitute about 4.5 per cent of the total length of National Highways in India.

Coastal shipping routes link Gujarat's many ports. Kandla is a major international shipping terminal. There is air service both within the state and to major Indian cities outside Gujarat.

Tourist centres

Gujarat has 4 national parks and 11 sanctuaries. The game sanctuary at Gir     ( the world’s last habitat of the Asiatic lion), the sacred temples of Dwarka and Somnath, Palitana, the picturesque mountain city of Jain temples on about 2000 feet high Shetrunjaya hills, Udwada, the oldest place of the Fire temple of Parsees in India, the 5000-year old archaeological finds at Lothal, the 11th century Sun temples at Modhera, bird sanctuary at nal Sarovar, architectural monuments of Indo-Saracenic style at Ahmedabad and the national shrine of Gandhiji at Sabarmati, are a few of the varied attractions.