/mun"i poor'/, n.
a state in NE India between Assam and Burma. 1,220,000; 8620 sq. mi. (22,326 sq. km). Cap.: Imphal.

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State (pop., 2001 prelim.: 2,388,634), northeastern India.

Occupying an area of 8,621 sq mi (22,327 sq km), it is bordered by Myanmar (Burma) and the states of Nagaland, Assam, and Mizoram; its capital is Imphal. Its two main physical features are the Manipur River valley and the western mountainous region. In 1762 and 1824 Manipur requested British assistance in repelling Burmese invasions. The British administered the area in the 1890s, but in 1907 a local government took over; a tribal uprising in 1917 led to a new government administered from Assam. In 1947 Manipur acceded to the Indian union; it was ruled as a union territory until it became a state in 1972. Agriculture and forestry are economic mainstays.

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      state of India. It is located in the northeastern part of the country. It has an area of 8,621 square miles (22,327 square kilometres), making it one of the smaller states of India. It is bordered by the states of Nāgāland to the north, Assam to the west, and Mizoram to the southwest and by Myanmar (Burma) to the south and east. The capital is Imphāl.

      The name Manipur means “Land of Gems.” Like other northeastern states, it is largely isolated from the rest of India. Its economy centres on agriculture and forestry, and there is lively activity in trade and cottage industries.

Physical and human geography

The land
 The state has two major physiographic regions, the Manipur River valley and a large surrounding tract of mountainous country. The valley, some 690 square miles, runs north-south and lies at an elevation of 2,600 feet. Its main physical feature is Logtāk Lake, covering about 40 square miles, which is the source of the Manipur River. The river flows southward through the valley into Myanmar, where it joins the Myittha River, a tributary of the Chindwin.

      The hill ranges, connected by spurs and ridges, run generally north-south. These ranges include the Nāga Hills to the north, the East Manipur Hills along the eastern Myanmar border, the Mizo and Chin hills to the south, and the West Manipur Hills to the west. Average elevations vary between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, although the hills in the north rise to more than 9,500 feet. In the west the Surma River, known as the Barāk River in Manipur, has cut a narrow, steep-sided valley through the West Manipur Hills as it flows to join the Meghna River in Bangladesh.

      The climate is temperate in the valley and cold in the hills. Rainfall is abundant, with about 65 inches (1,650 millimetres) of precipitation occurring annually.

      The hills are densely covered with mixed forests containing stands of bamboo and teak. Other trees include oak, magnolia, and chinquapin. The Luzon pine grows in the Nāga Hills. Among the state's notable plants are rhododendrons, primroses, and blue poppies. Animal life includes the Asiatic elephants, tigers, leopards, and wild buffalo. The rhinoceros is hunted for its horn, which, when ground, is valued as an aphrodisiac. The brow-antlered deer is in danger of extinction. Gaurs are the largest wild bison in the world; the mithan (or gayal), the domesticated form, is widely distributed in the state.

The people
      About two-thirds of the people are the Meithei, who occupy the Manipur valley and are largely Hindus. Meithei women conduct most of the trade in the valley and enjoy high social status. Indigenous hill tribes, such as the Nāgas (Nāga) in the north and the Kukis (Kuki) in the south, make up the rest of the population. Divided into numerous clans and sections, the people of these tribes speak languages of the Tibeto-Burman family and practice traditional animist religions. Some of the Nāgas have been converted to Christianity. More than 60 percent of the population speak Manipurī, which, along with English, is the official language of the state.

The economy
      Agriculture and forestry are the main sources of income. Rice is the major crop, and the rich soil also supports corn (maize), sugarcane, mustard, tobacco, fruit orchards, and pulses (such as peas and beans). Terracing is common in the hills, where the tribes plow the ground with hand hoes. Among some of the hill tribes, domestic animals are kept only for meat and are not milked or used for hauling. The Nāgas are known to use intoxicants to catch fish. Teak and bamboo are major forestry products.

      Manufacturing is limited to several well-established cottage industries. The designed cloth produced on handlooms is in demand throughout India and outside the country. Other industries include sericulture, manufacture of bamboo and cane articles, soapmaking, carpentry, and tanning. An industrial complex, including an electronics plant, has been established at Imphāl (Imphal).

      Manipur remains somewhat isolated from the rest of India, and communications within the state are poor. A national highway passes through the state from Tamu on the Myanmar border in the south via Imphāl to Dimāpur (in Nāgāland) in the north; this highway also connects Imphāl with the Northeast Frontier Railway near Dimāpur. There are air links from Imphāl to Guwāhāti and Silchar in Assam and to Calcutta in West Bengal.

Administration and social conditions
      The governor, appointed by the president of India, is the constitutional head of the state. The governor functions on the advice of the elected chief minister and the Council of Ministers. Manipur has a unicameral legislature, consisting of a Legislative Assembly (Vidhān Sabhā) of 60 members. The state shares a common High Court with Assam. Manipur is divided into eight administrative districts: Bishnupur, Chandel, Churāchāndpur, Imphāl, Senapati, Tamenglong, Thoubāl, and Ukhrul.

      About half of the population is literate; the state has a university at Imphāl and more than 30 colleges. Major health problems include tuberculosis, leprosy, venereal disease, and filariasis. The state continues to have an inadequate number of health facilities.

Cultural life
      Polo and hockey are popular sports. Manipur has given birth to an indigenous form of classical dance known as manipurī. Unlike in other Indian dance forms, hand movements are used decoratively rather than as pantomime, bells are not accentuated, and both men and women perform communally. The dance dramas, interpreted by a narrator, are a part of religious life. Themes are generally taken from the life of Krishna, the pastoral god of Hinduism. Long an isolated art form, manipurī was introduced to the rest of India by the poet Rabindranath Tagore in 1917.

      Although ancient hoes of ground stone reportedly have been found in the region, the earliest recorded history goes back only to AD 900. The beginning of Manipur's more recent history dates from 1762, when the raja Jai Singh concluded a treaty with the British (British Empire) to repel an invasion from Myanmar. Further communication was minimal until 1824, when the British were again requested to expel the Myanmar. Disputed successions were a continual source of political turmoil until Chura Chand, a five-year-old member of the ruling family, was nominated raja in 1891. For the next eight years the administration was conducted under British supervision; slavery and forced labour were abolished, and roads were constructed.

      In 1907 the government was assumed by the raja and the durbar, or council, whose vice president was a member of the Indian civil service. Subsequently, the administration was transferred to the raja, and the vice president of the durbar became its president. After an uprising of the Kuki hill tribes in 1917, a new system of government was adopted; the region was divided into three subdivisions, each headed by an officer from the neighbouring government of Assam.

      With the accession of Manipur to India in 1947, the political agency exercised by Assam was abolished. Two years later, Manipur became a union territory governed by a chief commissioner and an elected territorial council. In 1969 the office of chief commissioner was replaced by that of lieutenant governor, whose status was changed to governor when Manipur became a constituent state of the Indian Union on July 21, 1972.

Barbara A. Standley Deryck O. Lodrick

Additional Reading
Overviews are found in R.K. Jhalajit Singh, Manipur (1975); and Rabindra Pratap Singh, Geography of Manipur (1982). S.A. Ansari, Some Aspects of the Geography of Manipur (1985), is a collection of essays on the physical environment, regions, and the economy. Social and political history are discussed in Bimal J. Dev and Dilip K. Lahiri, Manipur: Culture and Politics (1986); and Chander Sheikhar Panchani, Manipur: Religion, Culture, and Society (1987). S.A. Ansari, Socio-economic Development in Tribal Area of Manipur: A Case Study of the Chirus of Nungsai Chiru (1986), explores change among a tribal group; while Gulab Khan Gori, Changing Phase of Tribal Area of Manipur (1984), examines general aspects of development there.

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Universalium. 2010.

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