Nagaland is a state in the far north-eastern part of India. It borders the state of Assam to the west, Arunachal Pradesh and part of Assam to the north, Burma to the east and Manipur to the south. The state capital is Kohima, and the largest city is Dimapur. It is a largely mountainous state. Agriculture is the most important economic activity in Nagaland. Principal crops include rice, corn, millets, pulses, tobacco, oilseeds, sugarcane, potatoes and fibres. Other economy boosters are forestry, cottage industries, insurance, real estate and tourism.
The early history of the Nagas is the story of the customs and economic activities of the Naga tribes. The people were originally referred to as Naka in Burmese languages, which means ‘people with pierced ears’. The British broadly classified the tribes of Manipur into “Nagas” and “Kukis”. The Naga tribes had socio-economic and political links with tribes in Assam and Burma (Myanmar); even today a large population of Naga inhabits Assam. Following an invasion in 1816, the area, along with Assam, came under direct rule of Burma. This period was noted for oppressive rule and turmoil in Assam and Naga Hills. When the British East India Company took control of Assam in 1826, Britain steadily expanded its domain over modern Naga Hills. By 1892, all of the Naga Hills except the Tuensang area in the northeast was governed by the British. It was politically amalgamated into Assam. Missionaries played an important part in converting Nagaland’s Naga tribes to Christianity. Not much is known about the history before the Burmese invasion or before the Naga people were converted to Christianity.
Nagaland is largely a mountainous state. The Naga Hills rise from the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam to about 2,000 feet (610 m) and rise further to the southeast, as high as 6,000 feet (1,800 m). Mount Saramati at an elevation of 12,552 feet (3,826 m) is the state’s highest peak; this is where the Naga Hills merge with the Patkai Range in Burma. Rivers such as the Doyang and Diphu to the north, the Barak river in the southwest and the Chindwin river of Burma in the southeast, dissect the entire state.
Nagaland has a largely monsoon climate with high humidity levels. Annual rainfall averages around 70–100 inches (1,800–2,500 mm), concentrated in the months of May to September. Temperatures range from 70 °F (21 °C) to 104 °F (40 °C). In winter, temperatures do not generally drop below 39 °F (4 °C), but frost is common at high elevations.
Agriculture is the most important economic activity in Nagaland, with more than 90% of the population employed in agriculture. Crops include rice, corn, millets, pulses, tobacco, oilseeds, sugarcane, potatoes, and threads. However, Nagaland still depends on the import of food supplies from other states. The widespread practice of jhum, tilling, has led to soil erosion and loss of fertility, particularly in the eastern districts. Only the Angami and Chakesang tribes in the Kohima and Phek districts use terracing techniques. And most of the Aos, Lothas, and Zeliangs in Mokokchung, Wokha, and Peren districts respectively till in the many valleys of the district. Forestry is also an important source of income. Cottage industries such as weaving, woodwork, and pottery are also an important source of revenue. Tourism is important, but largely limited due to insurgency since the last five decades.
Flora and fauna
Nagaland is rich in flora and fauna. About one-sixth of Nagaland is under the cover of tropical and sub-tropical evergreen forests—including palms, bamboo, and rattan as well as timber and mahogany forests. While some forest areas have been cleared for jhum (cultivation), many scrub forests, high grass, reeds, and secondary dogs, pangolins, porcupines, elephants, leopards, bears, many species of monkeys, sambar, harts, oxen, and buffaloes thrive across the state’s forests. The Great Indian Hornbill is one of the most famous birds found in the state.