/nah"geuh land'/, n.
a state in NE India. 56,000; 6366 sq. mi. (16,488 sq. km). Cap.: Kohima.

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State (pop., 2001 prelim.: 1,988,636), northeastern India.

It borders Myanmar (Burma) and the states of Manipur, Assam, and Arunachal Pradesh and has an area of 6,401 sq mi (16,579 sq km). Its capital is Kohima. Except for a small area of plain, the entire state is covered with ranges of hills that are northward extensions of the Arakan Mountains system. Myanmar ruled the region from 1819 to 1826, when the British began annexing its hill areas. The Naga people accepted statehood within an independent India in 1963. There are more than 20 major Naga tribes and subtribes, with different dialects and customs. About two-thirds are Christian, and most others are Hindu or Muslim. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy. Crops include rice, millet, sugarcane, potatoes, and tobacco.

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      state of India. It lies in the hills and mountains of the northeastern part of the country. One of the smallest states of India, it has a total area of just 6,401 square miles (16,579 square kilometres). It is bordered by the states of Manipur on the south, Assam on the west and northwest, and Arunāchal Pradesh on the northeast. Myanmar (Burma) lies to the east. The capital is Kohīma.

Physical and human geography

The land
      Nearly all of Nāgāland is mountainous. In the north, the Nāga Hills rise abruptly from the Brahmaputra valley to about 2,000 feet (610 metres) and then increase in elevation toward the southeast to more than 6,000 feet. The mountains merge with the Pātkai Range along the Myanmar border, reaching a maximum height of 12,552 feet (3,826 metres) at Mount Saramati. The region is deeply dissected by rivers: the Doyang and Dikhu in the north, the Barāk in the southwest, and the tributaries of the Chindwin River (in Myanmar) in the southeast.

      Nāgāland has a monsoon climate. Annual rainfall averages between 70 and 100 inches (1,800 and 2,500 millimetres) and is concentrated in the months of the southwest monsoon (May to September). Average temperatures decrease with greater elevation; in the summer, temperatures range from 70° F (21° C) to 104° F (40° C), while in the winter, they rarely drop below 39° F (4° C), but frost is common over higher elevations. Humidity is generally high.

      Forests cover about one-sixth of Nāgāland. Below 4,000 feet are tropical and subtropical evergreen forests, containing palms, rattan, and bamboo, as well as valuable timber species, such as mahogany. Coniferous forests are found at higher elevations. Where clearing for jhūm (shifting cultivation) has taken place, secondary growth of high grass, reeds, and scrub jungle has sprung up.

      Rhinoceroses, elephants, tigers, leopards, bears, several kinds of monkey, sambar deer, buffalo, and wild oxen live in the lower hills. Porcupines, pangolins (scaly anteaters), wild dogs, foxes, civet cats, and mongooses also are found in the state. The long tail feathers of the great Indian hornbill are treasured for use in traditional ceremonial dress.

The people
      The Nāgas (Nāga), classified among the Indo-Asiatic peoples, form more than 20 tribes, as well as numerous subtribes, each having a specific geographic distribution. Though sharing many cultural traits, these tribes have maintained a high degree of isolation and lack cohesion as a single people. The Konyaks are the largest tribe, followed by the Āos, Tangkhuls, Semās, and Angāmis. Other tribes include the Lothās, Sangtams, Phoms, Changs, Khiemnungams, Yimchungres, Zeliangs, Chakhesangs (Chokri), and Rengmās.

      The Nāga tribes lack a common language; there are about 60 spoken dialects, all belonging to the Sino-Tibetan (Sino-Tibetan languages) language family. In some areas dialects vary even from village to village. Intertribal conversation generally is carried on through broken Assamese, and many Nāgas speak Hindi and English. English is the official language of the state.

      The traditional Nāga religion is animistic, though conceptions of a supreme creator and an afterlife exist. Nature is seen to be alive with invisible forces, minor deities, and spirits with which priests and medicine men mediate. In the 19th century, with the advent of British rule, Christianity was introduced, and Baptist missionaries became especially active in the region. As a result, the population now is predominantly Christian.

      Nāgāland is a rural state. More than four-fifths of the population lives in small, isolated villages. Built on the most prominent points along the ridges of the hills, these villages were once stockaded, with massive wooden gates approached by narrow, sunken paths. The villages are usually divided into khels, or quarters, each with its own headmen and administration. Dimāpur, Kohīma, Mokokchūng, and Tuensang are the only urban centres with more than 20,000 people.

The economy
      Agriculture employs about 90 percent of the population. Rice, corn (maize), small millets, pulses (legumes such as peas and beans), oilseeds, fibres, sugarcane, potato, and tobacco are the principal crops. Nāgāland, however, still has to depend on imports of food from neighbouring states. The widespread practice of jhūm has led to soil erosion and loss of soil fertility. Only the Angāmis and Chakhesangs of the southern district of Kohīma use terracing and irrigation techniques. Traditional implements include the light hoe, the dāo (a multipurpose heavy knife), and the sickle; except in the plains, the plow is not used. Forestry is also a primary source of income and employment.

      Chromium, nickel, cobalt, iron ore, and limestone are found in Nāgāland, but only low-grade coal deposits are mined at present. Boreholes drilled in the western district of Wokha have yielded oil, and seepages in the Dikhu valley, near Assam, suggest the presence of exploitable oil reserves.

      Until the early 1970s, only cottage industries (e.g., weaving, woodwork, basketry, and pottery) existed in the state. Lack of raw materials, financial resources, and power, as well as poor transport and communications, all hindered industrial growth. Dimāpur, the state's leading industrial centre, now has a sugar mill and distillery, a brick factory, and a television assembly plant. Other industries in the state include a khandsari (molasses) mill, rice mills, fruit-canning plants, a paper and pulp factory, a plywood factory, and cabinet and furniture factories.

      Power generation depends mainly on diesel plants, though hydroelectric output has increased. More than 50 percent of Nāgāland's power is generated in Assam.

      Nāgāland depends mostly on roads for transportation. A national highway runs from Dimāpur to Kohīma and then on to Imphāl in Manipur. Another main road links Mokokchūng with Amguri in Assam. A short stretch of the Northeast Frontier Railway passing through Dimāpur from Assam is the only rail link with the rest of India. Air service is available from Dimāpur to Guwāhāti in Assam and to Calcutta in West Bengal.

Administration and social conditions
      Nāgāland is governed by a Council of Ministers, headed by a chief minister, which is responsible to the 60-member Legislative Assembly (Vidhān Sabhā). The constitutional head of state is the governor, appointed by the president of India. The state is divided into seven districts: Kohīma, Mokokchūng, Mon, Phek, Wokha, Zunheboto, and Tuensang.

      Unlike in other Indian states, Nāgāland has granted a large degree of autonomy to its various tribal communities. Each tribe has a hierarchy of councils (at the village, range, and tribal levels) to deal with disputes involving breaches of customary laws and usages. Appeals of such cases are made to the Nāga Tribunal. Special administrative provisions were made for the Tuensang district, which was put under a regional council elected by all the tribes within the district's boundaries.

Education and welfare
      About half of Nāgāland's population is literate, which is higher than the national average. In addition to its numerous primary and secondary schools, the state has a number of colleges for higher education, as well as a campus of the North-Eastern Hill University at Kohīma.

      The state has placed considerable emphasis on public health. It has programs for treating tuberculosis and malaria and for improving drinking water supplies.

Cultural life
      Tribal organization varies from the autocratic āngs (chiefs) of the Konyaks and hereditary chieftainships of the Semās and Changs to the democratic structures of the Angāmis, Āos, Lothās, and Rengmās. A prominent village institution is the morung (a communal house or dormitory for young unmarried men), where skulls and other trophies of war formerly were hung. The pillars are still carved with striking representations of tigers, hornbills, and human and other figures. Women hold a relatively high and honourable position in Nāga society. They work in the fields on equal terms with men and have considerable influence in the tribal councils. A central feature of Nāga life is the Feast of Merit, a series of ceremonies culminating with the sacrifice of a mithan. Each tribe has its gennas, or festivals, and Nāga dance, music, song, and folklore all express an exuberant concern for life.

      Nāgāland has no early written history, although medieval chronicles of the neighbouring Ahom kingdom of Assam tell of the Nāga tribes, their economy, and their customs. The 1816 Myanmar invasion of Assam led to oppressive Myanmar rule from 1819 until the establishment of British rule over Assam in 1826. The advent of British administration, which by 1892 encompassed the whole of Nāga territory (except the rugged Tuensang area in the northeast), ended the practices of headhunting and intervillage raids and brought relative peace to the region.

      After India became independent in 1947, the Nāga territory initially remained a part of Assam. A strong nationalist movement, however, began seeking a political union of the Nāga tribes, and extremists demanded outright secession from the Indian Union. This movement led to a number of violent incidents, and in 1955 the Indian army was called in to restore order. In 1957, after an agreement was reached between Nāga leaders and the Indian government, the Nāga Hills district of Assam and the Tuensang frontier division to the northeast were brought together under a single unit directly administered by the Indian government. Despite the agreement, unrest continued in the form of noncooperation with the Indian government, nonpayment of taxes, sabotage, and attacks on the army. A further accord reached at the Nāga People's Convention meeting of July 1960 resolved that Nāgāland should become a constituent state of the Indian Union. Nāgāland achieved statehood in 1963, and a democratically elected government took office in 1964.

      Rebel activity continued, however, increasingly assuming the form of banditry and often motivated more by tribal rivalry and personal vendetta than by political aspiration. Ceasefires and negotiations did little to stop the insurgency, and in March 1975 direct presidential rule was imposed on the state. Although leaders of the underground agreed in November 1975 to lay down their arms and accept the Indian Constitution, a small group of hard-core extremists continued to agitate for Nāga independence.

Minodhar Barthakur Deryck O. Lodrick

Additional Reading
Verrier Elwin, Nagaland (1961); Prakash Singh, Nagaland, 3rd ed., rev. (1981); and Murkot Ramunny, The World of Nagas (1988), are overviews. Majid Husain, Nagaland: Habitat, Society, and Shifting Cultivation (1988), discusses the human geography of the area. On the people, see Julian Jacobs, The Nagas: Hill Peoples of Northeast India (1990). Swabera Islam Saleh, Nagaland's Economy in Transition Since 1964 (1989), examines economic developments. Hokishe Sema, Emergence of Nagaland (1986), is authored by a former chief minister of the state. B.B. Ghosh, History of Nagaland (1982), provides a brief historical survey of the region. M. Horam, Naga Insurgency: The Last Thirty Years (1988), is a personal account of the Naga Underground Movement.Deryck O. Lodrick

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Universalium. 2010.

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