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Odisha (ŏdĭshˈə), formerly Orissa (ərĭsˈə, ō–), state (2001 provisional pop. 36,706,920), 60,162 sq mi (155,820 sq km), E India, on the Bay of Bengal. Bhubaneswar is the capital. The relatively unindented coastline (c.200 mi/320 km long) lacks good ports save for the deepwater facility at Paradwip. The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi River delta, is exceedingly fertile. Rainfall is heavy and regular, and two crops of rice (by far the most important food) are grown annually. In the south are the Eastern Ghats, which yield valuable timber. Supporting a major industrial zone in the north are deposits of iron, manganese, coal, and mica. A canal system links the Mahanadi River with the Hugli River in West Bengal. The temple-dotted cities of Konarak, Puri, and Bhubaneswar attract many tourists. The dense population, concentrated on the coastal alluvial plain, is Oriya-speaking. The interior, inhabited largely by Munda-speaking aborigines, is hilly and mountainous. Odisha is subject to intense cyclones; in 1999 one caused severe damage and some 10,000 deaths. A devastating cyclone in 2011 caused far fewer casualties after more than 500,000 people were evacuated to shelters.

In ancient times the region of Odisha was the center of the Kalinga kingdom, although it was temporarily conquered (c.250 B.C.) by Aśoka and held for almost a century by the Mauryas. With the gradual decline of Kalinga, several Hindu dynasties arose and built temples at Bhubaneswar, Puri, and Konarak. After long resistance to the Muslims, the region was overcome (1568) by Afghan invaders and passed to the Mughal empire.

After the fall of the Mughals, Odisha was divided between the Nawabs of Bengal and the Marathas. In 1803 it was conquered by the British. The coastal section, which was made (1912) part of Bihar and Orissa Province, became in 1936 the separate province of Orissa. In 1948 and 1949 the area of Orissa was almost doubled and the population was increased by a third with the addition of 24 former princely states. In 1950, Orissa became a constituent state of India. The English spelling of the state's name was officially changed to Odisha in 2011. Odisha is governed by a chief minister and cabinet responsible to an elected unicameral legislature and by a governor appointed by the president of India.

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



a state in India, in the eastern part of the Hindustan Peninsula. It has an area of 156,000 sq km and a population of 21.9 million (1971), most of whom are Oriya. About 8 percent of the people live in towns. The administrative center is Bhubaneswar.

Along the Bay of Bengal stretches a low-lying coastal plain, much of it occupied by the deltas of the Mahanadi, Brahmani, and Baitarani rivers. The slightly indented coast provides no good natural harbors. The Eastern Ghats, composed mainly of granite and gneiss, run parallel to the coast, rising to altitudes of 1,000–1,500 m. The eastern rim of the Deccan Plateau occupies a large part of the state. Orissa has a subequatorial monsoonal climate and receives up to 1,500 mm of precipitation annually. The mountain slopes are covered with dense deciduous monsoon forests, chiefly of sal and teak. Along the coast grow mangrove thickets. The plains have been almost completely plowed up.

Orissa is an agricultural state with a developing industry. About four-fifths of the population is employed in agriculture, which is oriented toward the raising of food crops. About four-fifths of the sown area is devoted to rice, and in the forested hilly regions the chief crops are legumes and millet. Orissa is the fourth leading producer of jute among the Indian states, and small amounts of cotton, oil-seed crops, and sugarcane are also grown. Since independence an irrigation system has been built in the Mahanadi river basin. There is fishing along the coast and on Lake Chilka.

Manganese, iron ore, and chromite are mined in Orissa. Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj, and Sundargarh are the leading mining centers. Many of the state’s manufacturing enterprises have been established since independence. Large industries include a government-owned ferrous metallurgy plant and a mineral fertilizer plant at Raurkela; an aluminum plant and factories producing cables and rolled steel at Hirakud; ferromanganese plants at Joda and Rayagada; cement factories at Rajgangpur and Bargarh; refractories at Rajgangpur and elsewhere; and several cotton mills. There are government-owned hydroelectric power plants at Hirakud and Machkund. Handicrafts include weaving and the fashioning of artistic objects from silver and stone.


Historical survey. Orissa as a historical region derives its name from the principal inhabitants of the region, the Oriya. In antiquity the area was part of the powerful Kalinga state. From 1038 to 1435 Orissa was subjugated by the Ganga dynasty and from 1435 to 1540 by the Gajapati kings. In 1568, Orissa was conquered by the Muslim rulers of Bengal, and in 1576 by the Mughals. From 1714 to 1747 it was under the control of the Bengal Nawabs, and later of the Marathas. After Orissa became a possession of the British East India Company (1803), a large revolt against the British colonialists broke out in the area (1817–18). In 1936 it was constituted a separate province. After India gained its independence in 1947, Orissa became a state.

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


a state of E India, on the Bay of Bengal: part of the province of Bihar and Orissa (1912--36); enlarged by the addition of 25 native states in 1949. Capital: Bhubaneswar. Pop.: 36 706 920 (2001). Area: 155 707 sq. km (60 119 sq. miles)
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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