Gujarat


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Gujarat

Gujarat (go͝ojərätˈ), state (2001 provisional pop. 50,596,992), c.75,686 sq mi (196,077 sq km), W India, on the Arabian Sea. It is comprised of almost all of the Kathiawar peninsula, the desolate Rann of Kachchh, and the districts of Vadovara, Baruch, Surat, and the Dangs. Gujarat was constituted in 1960 from the Gujarati-speaking areas in the northern and western portions of the former state of Bombay. The population is concentrated in the cities of Ahmadabad, Surat, Vadodara (see under Baroda), Bhavnagar, Rajkot, and Jamnagar. The capital is the new, planned city of Gandhinagar. Gujarat is governed by a chief minister and cabinet responsible to a unicameral elected legislature and by a governor appointed by the president of India.

The state is well-watered, except for the arid Kachchh area in the north; rice, wheat, and cotton are grown. Salt, limestone, manganese, calcite, and bauxite are mined. Hydroelectric power is generated. Heavily industrialized, Gujarat produces textiles, electrical goods, automobiles, chemicals, and building materials; it is the center of the Indian cotton-textile industry. The coastal city of Alang has an immense yard for dismantling and scrapping old ships. Gir National Park, located in the state, is home to the last surviving Asiatic lions.

Archaeological discoveries have linked Gujarat with the Indus valley civilization (c.3300–1500 B.C.) and have suggested that it was a part of the Mauryan empire (c.320–185 B.C.). The Gujarat region was the center of Jainism under the Rajput Caulukya dynasty (11th–12th cent.), which fell (1298) to the Delhi Sultanate. In 1390, Gujarat became an independent sultanate. Its immense wealth invited attack, and in 1509 the Portuguese wrested from it the colony of Diu (see Daman and Diu). In 1572 the sultanate was annexed to the Mughal empire. The Marathas were powerful in the area in the first half of the 18th cent. The British East India Company took over control of the region in 1818. Under the British much of the region retained its local princely rulers. In 1947 the region was organized into the state of Bombay. Bombay state was divided into the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra in 1956. W Gujarat was devastated by a strong earthquake in 2001 that killed some 20,000 people, and the state was the scene (following a deadly attack on a train carrying Hindu pilgrims) of brutal anti-Muslim riots in which perhaps as many as 2,500 died, in 2002.

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gujarat

 

a state in India in the northwestern part of the peninsula of Hindustan. Gujarat is on the coast of the Arabian Sea and its gulfs of Cambay and Kutch, and it includes the plains of the Little Rann of Kutch and a large part of the Great Rann of Kutch and the peninsulas of Kutch and Kathiawar. It was formed in 1960 by separating from the state of Bombay the regions with a majority of Gujaratis in the population. Its area is 196,000 sq km and its population is 26.7 million (1971). Ninety per cent of the population is Hindu and 8.4 percent Muslim. The administrative center and largest city is Ahmadabad. (A new administrative center is being built in Gandhinagar, about 25 km from Ahmadabad.) The other big cities are Baroda, Surat, Rajkot, Bhaunagar, and Jamnagar.

Natural features. A large part of the state’s surface is a flat, low-lying plain made up of alluvial-marine sand and clay deposits; in the internal areas of the Kathiawar and Kutch peninsulas there are basalt plateaus (with predominant heights of 200–500 m). A sizable area of Gujarat (more than 20,000 sq km), mainly in the northwest, is occupied by swamps and salt marshes. The climate is subequatorial, with fluctuating humidity. The average January temperature is between 16° and 23° C, and the average July temperature is about 28° C. In most of Gujarat average annual precipitation is 500–1,000 mm; in the west it is 250–500 mm. The rivers in Gujarat are mainly in the southeast (the lower reaches of the rivers Tapti, Narmada, Mahi, and Sabarmati). The vegetation in the west is savanna; in the east there are tropical dry forests, thin xerophilous forests, and prickly shrubs.

P. A. SHELAPUTIN

Economy. Gujarat is an important cotton-growing region and one of the most industrially developed states in India. A total of 11 million to 13 million hectares (ha) are cultivated, and about 12 percent of this total is artificially irrigated (1.6 million ha in 1968). The main branch of agriculture is cotton growing, mainly in the area of Viramgam between the Narmada and Dhadar rivers, where the best varieties of cotton in India are grown. Gujarat accounts for more than one-fifth of the area of cotton growing (1.7 million ha) and more than one-quarter of the total Indian cotton output (250,000–300,000 tons a year), more than one-third of the peanut output (more than 2 million ha and 1.5 million tons). Food crops cultivated are rice (more than 500,000 ha, output 450,000–500,000 tons, mostly in the southern part of the state), durra (about 1.4 million ha, more than 400,000 tons; in the inland areas and in the north), corn, wheat, and almost everywhere legumes (4.5–5 million ha, 2:8–3.3 million tons). Cattle is bred (about 10 million head, including about 3 million buffaloes). In Kutch sheep (1.5 million) and goats (2.2 million) are bred. There is extraction of salt (2.7 million tons in 1968, that is, about 60 percent of the country’s output, in the Gulf of Kutch), manganese ore (5,700 tons), limestone, bauxites, and since 1960 oil. (There are oil fields in Anklesvar, in the Gulf of Cambay, and some fields have been prospected with the aid of the USSR.) The textile, especially cotton, industry is well developed in Ahmadabad, Surat, Baroda, Broach, and elsewhere. General and electrical machine building is developing in Baroda, Ahmadabad, and Bhaunagar, and the chemical industry (production of alkalis, acids, fertilizers, dyes, and petroleum refining) is growing in Porbandar, Okha, Baroda, and elsewhere. Other industries include cement-production and the dairy industry. The chief ports are Kandla (new port), Okha, Bedi, Bhaunagar, Veraval, Sikar, and Porbandar.

IU. M. VLADIMIROV.

History. In antiquity and the Middle Ages the territory of Gujarat was an important region for the production of cotton, dyes, and fabrics, and its port cities were lively trading centers. There were on the territory of Gujarat a number of feudal states, of which the most powerful were the Maitraka state (sixth and seventh centuries) and the Chalukya, or So-lanki, state (ninth to 12th centuries). From 1297 to 1396 the lands of Gujarat were under the rule of the sultanate of Delhi. The Delhi vicegerent, Muzaffar Khan, detached himself from Delhi and in 1406 declared himself shah (sultan) of Gujarat. The city of Ahmadabad became the capital of the Gujarati state he created. This state grew especially strong under Mahmud I Begara (15th and early 16th century). A defeat in the struggle against the Portuguese (early 16th century) and their blockade of Gujarati ports did great harm to Gujarat’s trade. In 1572 the ruler of the Mogul Empire, Akbar, conquered the sultanate of Gujarat and incorporated its territory into his own, a move that was hastened by feudal internal strife in the sultanate. In the mid-18th century the territory of Gujarat came under the power of Maratha princes from the Gaekwar dynasty. In the early 19th century a large portion of the territory of Gujarat was captured by English colonialists and incorporated into the province of Bombay. (Tiny vassal principalities remained on the Kathiawar peninsula.) After India attained independence in 1947, the territory of Gujarat was separated as an autonomous state in 1960, with its center in Ahmadabad.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Gujarat

, Gujerat
1. a state of W India: formed in 1960 from the N and W parts of Bombay State; one of India's most industrialized states. Capital: Gandhinagar. Pop.: 50 596 992 (2001). Area: 196 024 sq. km (75 268 sq. miles)
2. a region of W India, north of the Narmada River: generally includes the areas north of Bombay city where Gujarati is spoken
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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