Mizoram is the land of the Mizo peoples. It is one of the Seven Sister States in North Eastern India, sharing borders with the states of Tripura, Assam, Manipur and with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Mizoram became the 23rd state of India on 20 February 1987.
The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in the northeastern India, is shrouded in mystery. The generally accepted view is that they are of Mongolide descents and were part of a great wave of migration from China and later moved out to India to their present habitat. It is possible that the Mizos came from Sinlung or Chhinlungsan located on the banks of the Yalung River in China, first settled in the Shan State and moved on in the middle of the 16th century to Kabaw Valley, Khampat, Tahan and the Chin Hills. The earliest Mizos who migrated to India were known as Kukis. Mizo history in the 18th and 19th century is marked by many instances of tribal raids and head hunting led by the village chieftains. The Lushai Hills Autonomous District Council was formed in 1952 and it led to the abolition of chieftainship.The autonomy however only partially met the aspirations of the Mizo people so representatives of the District Council and the Mizo Union pleaded with the States Reorganization Commission (SRC) in 1954 for integrating the Mizo-dominated areas of Tripura and Manipur with the District Council in Assam. The tribal leaders in the northeast were unhappy with the final SRC recommendations and met in Aizawl in 1955 to form a new political party, Eastern India Tribal Union (EITU). This group raised their demand for a separate state comprising of all the hill districts of Assam. The demand for a separate Hill state by EITU was kept in abeyance.
Mizoram is a land of rolling hills, valleys, rivers and lakes. As many as 21 major hills ranges or peaks of different heights run through the length and breadth of the state, with plains scattered here and there. The average height of the hills to the west of the state are about 1,000 metres (3,281 feet). These gradually rise up to 1,300 metres (4,265 feet) to the east. Some areas, however, have higher ranges which go up to a height of over 2,000 metres (6,562 feet). Phawngpui Tlang also known as the Blue Mountain, situated in the south-eastern part of the state, is the highest peak in Mizoram at 2,210 metres (7,251 feet).
The biggest river in Mizoram is Chhimtuipui, also known as Kaladan. The Indian government has invested millions of rupees to set up inland water ways along this river to trade with Burma. The project is known as the Kaladan Multipurpose project. Although many more rivers and streams drain the hill ranges, the most important and useful rivers are the Tlawng, Tut, Tuirial and Tuivawl which flow through the northern territory and eventually join the Barak River in Cachar District.
The Palak lake, the biggest in Mizoram is situated in Saiha District which is part of southern Mizoram covering 30 hectares (74 acres). It is believed that the lake was created as a result of an earthquake or a flood. The local people believe that a village which was submerged still remains intact deep under the waters. The Tamdil lake is a natural lake situated 85 km (53 mi) from Aizawl. Legend has it that a huge mustard plant once stood in this place. When the plant was cut down, jets of water sprayed from the plant and created a pool of water, thus the lake was named Tamdil which means of ‘Lake of Mustard Plant’. Today the lake is an important tourist attraction and a holiday resort. The most significant lake in Mizo history Rih Dil is ironically located in Burma, a few kilometres from the India-Burma border.
Mizoram has a mild climate, comfortable in summer 20°C to 29°C (68°F to 84°F)and never freezing during winter, with temperatures from 11°C to 21°C (52°F to 70°F). The region is influenced by monsoons, raining heavily from May to September with little rain in the dry (cold) season. The average state rainfall is 254 cm (100 in.), per annum. In the capital, Aizawl rainfall is about 208 centimetres (82 in.) and and in Lunglei another major center about 350 centimetres (138 in.)
Mizoram lags behind economically within India with little development due to the geographical lack of markets and raw materials. Cottage industry and other small-scale industries play an important role in the economy. Forest products are being encouraged (see bamboo below) and the 9th Five Year Plan (1997–2002) gives priority to “agro-based industries.” Around 70% of the population is engaged in agriculture.
The Industry Department actively promotes the following:
Zoram Industrial Development Corporation. (ZIDCO)
Mizoram Khadi and Village Industry Board. (MKVIB)
Zoram Handloom and Handicraft Corporation Limited. (ZOHANCO)
Mizoram Food and Allied Industries Corporation Limited. (MIFCO)
Zoram Electronics Development Corporation. (ZENICS)
There are at least 20 identifiable species of bamboo indigenous to mizoram. Some 30% of the state is covered with wild bamboo forests, many of which are largely unexploited. Mizoram harvests 40% of India’s 80 million-ton annual bamboo crop. The current state administration wishes to increase revenue streams from bamboo and aside from uses as a substitute for timber, there is research underway to utilize bamboo more widely such as using bamboo chippings for paper mills, bamboo charcoal for fuel, fertiliser and the manufacture of pressed wall panels.
The agro-climatic conditions of Mizoram having both temperate and semi tropical climates with tropic and temperate zones,is conducive to a wide variety of crops. Mizoram has well-distributed rainfall of 1900 mm to 3000 mm (75 to 118 inches) spread over eight to ten months in the year and agriculture is the mainstay of the Mizos. More than 70% of the total population is engaged in some form of agriculture. Recently, Godrej Agrovet Limited has entered into a new venture wherein Oil Palm and Jatropha cultivation, for biofuels is being promoted. A low calorie sugar substitute, Stevia rebaudiana, known as ‘sweetleaf’, has also recently been grown to improve economical agricultural diversity.