India's northeast, a region of mystic splendours and rich cultural
heritage, spreads over an area of 262179sq. kms and consists of eight
States: Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland,
Tripura and Sikkim. It is stretched between 89.46 degree to 97.30
degree East longitude and 21.57 degree to 29.30 degree North latitude.
Located in the Northeastern most corner of India, this region has
4, 500 km long international border with five foreign countries namely
Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma (Myanmar), China and Nepal. The whole the
region is connected with the rest of the country by a tenuous 22 kilometre
land corridor through Siliguri in the eastern State of West Bengal
- a link that has come to be referred to as the 'Chicken's Neck'.
Comprising only 8 per cent of the country's geographical area, the
Northeast is home to a total of 39, 035, 582 people (2001 census),
which is 3.80 per cent of the country's population. It includes 20162752
males and 18872830 females with a density of 149 persons per sq km.,
which is much less than the national population density of 324. The
decadal growth of population of the NE State in absolute numbers is
7081811. There are 936 females per 1000 males in the region, which
is marginally better than the national ratio of 933. The total number
of children in the region is 6, 246, 327. Assam is the most highly
populated State in the North East with a population of 26, 638,407
and Sikkim the least with 540,493 people. Mizoram has the highest
literacy rate in the entire North East with a literacy rate of 88.
49 and Arunachal Pradesh is the least literate State with 54.74. Incidentally
Mizoram is the second most literate State in the country. Mizoram
also ranks highest among the Northeastern States in the human resource
development index. Sikkim has the highest incidence of poverty in
The entire region can be geographically divided into two parts: plains
and the hills. The majority of those living in the plains of the region
are Hindus and Muslims while a substantial proportion of the hill
tribes inhabiting the States of Meghalaya, Mizoram and Nagaland are
Christians. The most populous part of the region is the Brahmaputra
valley, which constitutes about 22 per cent of the region.
There are stark differences among the eight northeastern States with
respect to their resource endowments, levels of industrialization,
as well as infrastructural facilities. The economy of all these States
remains underdeveloped and primarily agrarian with very weak industrial
sectors and inflated service sectors. The industrial sector has mainly
developed around tea, oil, timber in Assam and mining saw mills and
plywood factories in other parts of the region.