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Official seal of Nagaland
Location of Nagaland in India
Location of Nagaland in India
Map of Nagaland
Map of Nagaland
Coordinates (Kohima): 25°40′N 94°07′E / 25.67°N 94.12°E / 25.67; 94.12Coordinates: 25°40′N 94°07′E / 25.67°N 94.12°E / 25.67; 94.12
Country  India
Established 1 December 1963
Capital Kohima
Largest city Dimapur
Districts 11
 • Governor Ashwani Kumar
 • Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio (Nagaland People's Front)
 • Legislature Unicameral (60 seats)
 • Parliamentary constituency 1
 • High Court Gauhati High Court – Kohima Bench
 • Total 16,579 km2 (6,401 sq mi)
Area rank 25th
Population (2011)
 • Total 1,980,602
 • Rank 24th
 • Density 119/km2 (310/sq mi)
Time zone IST (UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-NL
HDI Increase 0.770 (high)
HDI rank 4th (2005)
Literacy 80.11% (13th)
Official languages English

Nagaland /ˈnɑːɡəlænd/ 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, Myanmar to the east and Manipur to the south. The state capital is Kohima, and the largest city is Dimapur. It has an area of 16,579 km2 with a population of 1,980,602 as per the 2011 census, making it one of the smallest states of India. The state is mostly mountainous except those areas bordering Assam valley. Mount Saramati is the highest peak with a height of 3,840 metres and its range forms a natural barrier between Nagaland and Burma. It lies between the parallels of 98-degree and 96-degree East Longitude and 26.6-degree and 27.4-degree latitude north of the equator.

Nagaland was established on 1 December 1963 to be the 16th state of the Indian Union. It is divided into eleven districts: Kohima, Phek, Mokokchung, Wokha, Zunheboto, Tuensang, Mon, Dimapur, Kiphire, Longleng and Peren. Its native inhabitants are the Naga tribes. Agriculture is the most important economic activity and the principal crops include rice, corn, millets, pulses, tobacco, oilseeds, sugarcane, potatoes and fibres. Other significant economic activity includes forestry, tourism, insurance, real estate, and miscellaneous cottage industries. It is also known as the "falcon capital of the world".


The Nagas were originally referred to as Naka in Burmese language, which means 'people with pierced noses'.[1] The Naga tribes had socio-economic and political links with tribes in Assam and Burma (Myanmar); even today a large population of Naga's inhabit in Assam and the hill districts of Manipur. 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 all of the Naga Hills except Tuensang area by 1892. This geographical area was politically amalgamated into Assam. Missionaries played an important role in converting Nagaland's Naga tribes to Christianity.[2]

Not much is known about the history of Naga's before the Burmese invasion or before the Naga people were converted to Christianity.

Road to statehood[edit]

During World War I, the British recruited 900 Nagas and sent them to France to work as aides at the front. While in Europe, the Nagas, who had always been fractured by tribal differences, began to unify under the banner of nationalism. On their return to their homeland in 1918, they organized themselves in the light of oneness and political solution, and this eventually led to the formation of the Naga Nationalist Movement.[3]

After the independence of India in 1947, the area remained a part of the province of Assam. Nationalist activities arose amongst a section of the Nagas. Phizo-led Naga National Council and demanded a political union of their ancestral and native groups. The political movement damaged government and civil infrastructure, attacked government officials and civilians from other states of India. The union government sent the Indian Army in 1955, to restore order. In 1957, the newly established central Indian government began diplomatic talks with representatives of Naga tribes, and the Naga Hills district of Assam. The Tuensang frontier were united in a single political entity, Naga Hills Tuensang Area (NHTA),[4] this became a Union territory directly administered by the Central government with a large degree of autonomy. This was not satisfactory to the tribes, however, and soon agitation and violence increased across the state – including attacks on army and government institutions, as well as civil disobedience and non-payment of taxes. In July 1960, following discussion between the Prime Minister of India and the leaders of the Naga People Convention (NPC), a 16-point agreement was arrived at whereby the Government of India recognised the formation of Nagaland as a full-fledged state within the Union of India.[5]

Accordingly, the territory was placed under the Nagaland Transitional Provisions Regulation, 1961[6] which provided for an Interim body consisting of 45 members to be elected by various tribes according to the customs, traditions and usage of the respective tribes. Subsequently, Nagaland attained statehood with the enactment of the state of Nagaland Act in 1962[7] by the Parliament. The interim body was dissolved on 30 November 1963 and the state of Nagaland was formally inaugurated on 1 December 1963 and Kohima was declared as the state capital. After elections in January 1964, the first Nagaland Legislative Assembly was constituted on 11 February 1964.[8][9]

The cease-fire could have hardly survived since 1964 to the present without any progress toward a political settlement, if there were only two sides each dedicated to eliminate the other. Instead, the present situation may be better understood as a very complex set of relations between a number of "parties" who have differing objectives, strategies, and capabilities. As a result, a precarious "stability" has been maintained over for nearly fifty years while cease-fire violations occurring routinely and continuously.[10]

However, the struggle of nationalism has been endlessly fought on. On the 7th of August 2012, all 60 Members of the Legislative Assembly across the parties in Nagaland met the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to seek an early settlement of the complex Naga problem.[11]

Battle of Kohima[edit]

In 1944 during World War II the Battle of Kohima was the turning point of the Japanese U Go offensive into India. For the first time in south-east Asia the Japanese lost the initiative to the Allies which they then retained until the end of the war. This hand-to-hand battle and slaughter prevented the Japanese from gaining a high base from which they might next roll across the extensive flatlands of India like a juggernaut.[12] The battle was fought from 4 April to 22 June 1944 around the town of Kohima. It is often referred to as the Stalingrad of the East.[13][14]


Shangnyu Village, Mon district, Nagaland

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 12,601.70 feet (3,841.00 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. 20 percent of the total land area of the state is covered with wooded forest, rich in flora and fauna. The evergreen tropical and the sub tropical forests are found in strategic pockets in the state.[15]


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. The state enjoys a salubrious climate. Summer is the shortest season in the state that lasts for only a few months. The temperature during the summer season remains between 16 °C (61 °F) to 31 °C (88 °F). Winter makes an early arrival and bitter cold and dry weather strikes certain regions of the state. The maximum average temperature recorded in the winter season is 24 °C (75 °F). Strong north-west winds blow across the state during the months of February and March.[16]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Hornbill Bird
Blyth's Tragopan or the Grey-bellied Tragopan

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, rattan as well as timber and mahogany forests. While some forest areas have been cleared for jhum cultivation, many scrub forests, high grass, reeds; 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. Blyth's Tragopan, a vulnerable species of pheasant, is the state Bird of Nagaland. It is sighted in Mount Japfü and Dzükou Valley of Kohima district, Satoi range in Zunheboto district and Pfütsero in Phek district. Of the mere 2500 tragopans sighted in the world, Dzükou valley is the natural habitat of more than 1,000.[17]

Mithun (a semi domesticated Gaur) found only in the north-eastern states of India, is the state animal of Nagaland and has been adopted as the official seal of the Government of Nagaland. It is ritually the most valued species in the state. With a vision to conserve and protect this magnificent animal in the northeast, the National Research Centre on Mithun (NRCM) was established by the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) in 1988.[18]


The sixteen main tribes of Nagaland are Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Dimasa Kachari, Khiamniungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sumi, Yimchunger, Kuki and Zeliang. The Konyaks, Angamis, Aos, Lothas, and Sumis are the largest Naga tribes; there are several smaller tribes as well (see List of Naga tribes). Tribe and clan traditions and loyalties play an important part in the life of Nagas. Weaving is a traditional art handed down through generations in Nagaland. Each of the tribe has its own unique designs and colours, producing shawls, shoulder bags, decorative spears, table mats, wood carvings, and bamboo works. Among many tribes the design of the shawl denotes the social status of the wearer. Some of the more known shawls include Tsungkotepsu and Rongsu of the Ao tribe; Sutam, Ethasu, Longpensu of the Lothas; Supong of the Sangtams, Rongkhim and Tsungrem Khim of the Yimchungers; the Angami Lohe shawls with thick embroidered animal motifs etc.

Folk songs and dances are essential ingredients of the traditional Naga culture. The oral tradition is kept alive through the media of folk tales and songs. Naga folks songs are both romantic and historical, with songs narrating entire stories of famous ancestors and incidents. There are also seasonal songs which describe various activities done in a particular agricultural season. Tribal dances of the Nagas give an insight into the inborn Naga reticence of the people. War dances and other dances belonging to distinctive Naga tribes are a major art form in Nagaland.

The tribes of Nagaland celebrate their festivals with gusto and fervor. More than 60% of the population of Nagaland depends on agriculture and therefore most of their festivals revolve around agriculture. They consider their festivals sacred and so participation in these festivals is compulsory. Nagaland is known as the land of festivals as each tribe celebrates its own festival with dedication and passion. Some of the important festivals celebrated are: Tsukhenyie by the Chakhesangs in January, Mimkut by the Kukis in January, Bushu by the Kacharis in January, Sekrenyi by the Angamis in February, Aoling by the Konyaks in April, Moatsü by the Aos in May, Tuluni by the Sumis in July, Nyaknylum by the Changs in July, Mongmong by the Sangtams in September, Tsokum by the Khiamniungans in October, Tokhu Emong by the Lothas in November, Yemshe by the Pochuris in October and Ngada by the Rengma's in November.[19]

Hornbill Festival of Nagaland[edit]

Naga tribesmen at Kisama during the Hornbill Festival of Nagaland.

Hornbill Festival[20] was launched by the Government of Nagaland in December 2000 to encourage inter-tribal interaction and to promote cultural heritage of the state. Organized by the State Tourism Department and Art & Culture Department. Hornbill Festival showcases a mélange of cultural displays under one roof. This festival takes place between 1 to 7 December every year.

It is held at Naga Heritage Village, Kisama which is about 12 km from Kohima. All the tribes of Nagaland take part in this festival. The aim of the festival is to revive and protect the rich culture of Nagaland and display its history, culture and traditions.[21]

The Festival is named after the Hornbill bird, which is displayed in folklores in most of the states tribes. The week long festival unites one and all in Nagaland and people enjoy the colourful performances, crafts, sports, food fairs, games and ceremonies. Traditional arts which include paintings, wood carvings, and sculptures are also on display. Festival highlights include Traditional Naga Morungs Exhibition and sale of arts and crafts, food stalls, herbal medicine stalls, shows and sales, cultural medley – songs and dances, fashion shows, beauty contest, traditional archery, naga wrestling, indigenous games and musical concerts. Additional attractions include the Konyak fire eating demonstration, pork-fat eating competitions, the Hornbill Literature Festival (including the Hutton Lectures), Hornbill Global Film Fest, Hornbill Ball, Choral Panorama, North East India Drum Ensemble, Naga king chilli eating competition, Hornbill National Rock Contest,[22] Hornbill International Motor Rally and WW-II Vintage Car Rally.[23][24]


Religion in Nagaland
Religion Percent
Distribution of religions

Christianity is the predominant religion of Nagaland. The state's population is 1.988 million, out of which 90.02% are Christians.[25] The census of 2001 recorded the state's Christian population at 1,790,349, making it, with Meghalaya and Mizoram, one of the three Christian-majority states in India and the only state where Christians form 90% of the population. The state has a very high church attendance rate in both urban and rural areas. Huge churches dominate the skylines of Kohima, Dimapur, and Mokokchung.

Nagaland is known as "the only predominantly Baptist state in the world."[26] Among Christians, Baptists are the predominant group, constituting more than 75% of the state's population, thus making it more Baptist (on a percentage basis) than Mississippi in the southern United States, where 55% of the population is Baptist.[27][28] Roman Catholics, Revivalists, and Pentecostals are the other Christian denomination numbers. Catholics are found in significant numbers in parts of Wokha district and Kohima district as also in the urban areas of Kohima and Dimapur.

Hinduism and Islam practised by the non-Naga community are minority religions in the state, at 7.7% and 1.8% of the population respectively.

An ancient indigenous religion known as the Heraka is followed by 4,168 people belonging to the Zeliangrong tribe living in Nagaland.[29] Rani Gaidinliu was a freedom fighter who struggled for the revival of the traditional Naga religion of animism or Heraka. Today, 94% of the Kuki tribe people living in Nagaland are Christian.


Every tribe in Nagaland has its own unique language. Nagas speak more than 20 different dialects (major 16 tribes in Nagaland including Kuki and Dimasa) belonging to the Sino-Tibetan family of languages. The traditional languages do not have any script of their own. The Christian missionaries used Roman script for these languages.

In 1967, the Nagaland Assembly proclaimed English as the official language of Nagaland and it is the medium for education in Nagaland. Nagamese, a creole language form of Indo-Aryan Assamese, is the most widely spoken language locally, mostly in the towns. Every tribe has its own mother tongue but communicates with other tribes in Nagamese or English. As such Nagamese is the local lingua franca of the people of Nagaland. The "Kaccha Nagas" of Manipur communicate with each other in Meitei, the common language of the people of Manipur. However, English is predominantly the dominant language both spoken and written in Nagaland.


The population of Nagaland is nearly two million people excluding many Nagas residing in other states.The Naga people are famous for their intelligence, adaptation and wit. The population mostly consists of agriculturalist and industrialist. 75% of the population live in the rural areas. About one-third of this rural population can be considered to be below the poverty line.[citation needed] Among the people living in urban areas one-fifth of them are below the poverty line.[citation needed]


District map of Nagaland

The governor is the constitutional head of state, representative of the President of India. He possesses largely ceremonial responsibilities apart from law and order responsibilities. The Legislative Assembly of Nagaland (Vidhan Sabha) is the real executive and legislative body of the state. The 60-member Vidhan Sabha – all elected members of legislature – forms the government executive and is led by the Chief minister. Unlike most states in India, Nagaland has been granted a great degree of state autonomy, as well as special powers and autonomy for Naga tribes to conduct their own affairs. Each tribe has a hierarchy of councils at the village, range, and tribal levels dealing with local disputes.

DistrictsDistrict Headquarters

Urban centres[edit]

Greater cities and towns[edit]

Dimapur, Kohima, Mokokchung, Tuensang, Wokha, Mon, Zunheboto, Longleng, Kiphire

Urban agglomerations[edit]

There are four urban agglomeration areas with population of more than 40,000 in the state:

Rank Metropolitan/Agglomeration Area District 2001 Census
1 Dimapur-Chumukedima Dimapur District 230,106
2 Greater Kohima Kohima District 99,795
3 Mokokchung Metropolitan Area Mokokchung District 60,161
4 Greater Wokha Wokha District 43,089

Greater (non-district headquarters) towns[edit]

Tuli town,Mangkolemba, Naganimora, Changtongya, Tizit, Tseminyu, Bhandari, Akuluto, Pfutsero, Aboi, Tobu ,


Macro-economic trend[edit]

This is a chart of trend of gross state domestic product of Nagaland at market prices estimated by Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation with figures in millions of Indian rupees.[31]

1980 1,027
1985 2,730
1990 6,550
1995 18,140
2000 36,790

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. Nagaland also imports 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 Chakhesang 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. Nagaland's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $1.4 billion in current prices.


The railway network in the state is minimal. Broad gauge lines run 7.98 miles (12.84 km), National Highway roads 227.0 miles (365.3 km), and state roads 680.1 miles (1,094.5 km).


Railway: North East Frontier Railway

  • Broad gauge: 7.98 miles (12.84 km)
  • Total: 7.98 miles (12.84 km)

[Data Source: N. F. Railway, CME Office, Guwahati-781011]

Highways and towns served[edit]

National highways: 227.0 miles (365.3 km)

  • NH 61: Kohima, Wokha, Tseminyu, Wokha, Mokokchung, Changtongya, Tuli
  • NH 29: Dimapur-Kohima-Mao-Imphal (134.2 mi or 216.0 km)
  • NH 36: Dimapur-Doboka-Nagaon (105.6 mi or 169.9 km)
  • NH 150: Kohima-Jessami via Chakhabama-Pfutsero (74.6 mi or 120.1 km)
  • NH 155: Mokukchung-Jessami via Tuesang-Kiphire (206.9 mi or 333.0 km)

State highways: 680.1 miles (1,094.5 km)

  • Chakabama–Mokokchung via Chazuba and Zunheboto
  • Kohima–Meluri via Chakhabama
  • Mokokchung–Mariani
  • Mokokchung–Tuensang
  • Namtola–Mon
  • Tuensang–Mon–Naginimora
  • Tuensang–Kiphire–Meluri
  • Wokha–Merapani Road

[Source: Office of The Chief Engineer, P.W.D., Kohima, Nagaland]


  • Dimapur airport, 43.5 miles (70.0 km) from Kohima is the sole airport in the State with scheduled commercial services to Kolkata and Dibrugarh.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Inato Yekheto Shikhu (2007). A re-discovery and re-building of Naga cultural values. Daya Books. p. 4. ISBN 978-81-89233-55-6. 
  2. ^ Tezenlo Thong, “‘Thy Kingdom Come': The Impact of Colonization and Proselytization on Religion among the Nagas,” Journal of Asian and African Studies, no. 45, 6: 595–609
  3. ^ The Naga Story – Then and Now
  4. ^ Template:Name="Nagaland Legislative Assembly"
  5. ^ The 16-point Agreement arrived at between the Government of India and the Naga People’s Convention, July 1960
  6. ^ Suresh K. Sharma (2006). Documents on North-East India: Nagaland. Mittal Publications. pp. 225–228. ISBN 9788183240956. 
  7. ^ The State Of Nagaland Act, 1962
  8. ^ "Naga Hills Tuensang Area Act, 1957". 
  9. ^ Ovung, Albert. "The Birth of Ceasefire in Nagaland". 
  10. ^ The Birth of Cease-Fire Politics in Nagaland .Ceasefire Between Indian Government and The Nagas
  11. ^ "All MLAs ready to sacrifice positions for Naga peace". 8 August 2012. 
  12. ^ Bert Sim, Mosstodloch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland: Pipe Major of the Gordon Highlanders at Kohima: his home is named "Kohima." – RJWilliams, Slingerlands, NY/USA
  13. ^ Dougherty, Martin J. Land Warfare. Thunder Bay Press. p. 159. 
  14. ^ Dennis, Peter; Lyman, Robert (2010). Kohima 1944: The Battle That Saved India. Osprey. 
  15. ^ Geography of Nagaland
  16. ^ Climate of Nagaland
  17. ^ Nagaland struggles to save state bird – The Telegraph Calcutta Monday, 5 July 2010
  18. ^ NRCM Nagaland
  19. ^ Naga Festivals
  20. ^ Hornbill Festival official website
  21. ^ Hornbill Festival
  22. ^ Hornbill National Rock Contest official website
  23. ^ 2 crore 7-day Hornbill Festival to enthrall Retrieved 3 December 2011
  24. ^ Hornbill International Motor Rally starts Retrieved 3 December 2011
  25. ^ Indian Census
  26. ^ Olson, C. Gordon. What in the World Is God Doing. Global Gospel Publishers: Cedar Knolls, NJ. 2003.
  27. ^ American Religious Identification Survey
  28. ^ Mississippi Denominational Groups, 2000 Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  29. ^ Heraka
  30. ^ "Census Population" (PDF). Census of India. Ministry of Finance India. Retrieved 18 December 2008. 
  31. ^ Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation estimates

Further reading[edit]

  • Alban von Stockhausen. 2014. Imag(in)ing the Nagas: The Pictorial Ethnography of Hans-Eberhard Kauffmann and Christoph von Fürer-Haimendorf. Arnoldsche, Stuttgart, ISBN 978-3-89790-412-5.
  • Stirn, Aglaja & Peter van Ham. The Hidden world of the Naga: Living Traditions in Northeast India. London: Prestel.
  • Oppitz, Michael, Thomas Kaiser, Alban von Stockhausen & Marion Wettstein. 2008. Naga Identities: Changing Local Cultures in the Northeast of India. Gent: Snoeck Publishers.
  • Kunz, Richard & Vibha Joshi. 2008. Naga – A Forgotten Mountain Region Rediscovered. Basel: Merian.
  • Glancey, Jonathan. 2011. Nagaland: a Journey to India's Forgotten Frontier. London: Faber
  • Hattaway, Paul. 2006. 'From Head Hunters To Church Planters'. Authentic Publishing
  • Hutton, J. 1986. 'Report on Naga Hills' Delhi: Mittal Publication.

External links[edit]