Madhya Pradesh literally means ‘Central Province’, and is located in the geographic heart of India. It is a state in central India, which straddles the Narmada River running east and west between the Vindhya and Satpura ranges that makes a traditional boundary between the north and south of India. The State is politically bordered on the west by Gujarat, on the north-west by Rajasthan, on the north-east by Uttar Pradesh, on the east by Chhattisgarh, and on the south by Maharashtra.
Madhya Pradesh includes the area of the ancient Avanti and the then capital Ujjain in the sixth century BC. Subsequently, the region was ruled by the major dynasties of India, including the Mauryas, Satvahanas, Rashtrakutas, the Mughals and the Marathas. By the early 18th century, the region was divided into several small kingdoms which were captured by the British and incorporated into Central Province. After India’s independence, Madhya Pradesh was created as a State with Nagpur as its capital. It included the southern part of the present-day Madhya Pradesh and northeastern portion of today’s Maharashtra. In 1956, this State was reorganised with Bhopal as its capital.
Madhya Pradesh has a subtropical climate. Like most of north India, it has a hot dry summer (March-June), followed by monsoon rains (July- September), and a cool and relatively dry winter (October to February). The average rainfall is about 1,370 mm, and it decreases from west to east because the monsoon wind moves from west to east.
According to 2011 figures, the recorded forest area of the State is 94,689 km² constituting 30.72% of the geographical area of the State. Variability in climatic and edaphic conditions brings about a significant difference in the forest types of the State. The land drained by the rivers Yamuna and Sone is agriculturally rich.
The population of Madhya Pradesh consists of a number of ethnic groups, including indigenous tribal communities, and relatively more recent migrants from other States. The literacy rate is 70.60% as per 2011 census. And 92% people are Hindu, while others and Muslim, Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains, Madhya Pradesh has a Legislative Assembly of 230 seats, and sends 29 members to Lok Sabha and 11 to Rajya Sabha. The dominant political parties in the State are the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress.
The official language of the State is Hindi. In addition to standard Hindi, several regional variants are spoken, which are considered to be dialects of Hindi. Madhya Pradesh has a rich cultural heritage. Three sites in Madhya Pradesh have been declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO—the Khajuraho Monuments, the Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi, and the Mesolithic Rock Paintings of Bhimbekta. It is also noted for its classical and folk music including Hindustani classic music gharanas.
Having a large tribal population cut-off from the mainstream development, Madhya Pradesh is one of the least developed States in India with an HDI (Human Development Index) of 0375 (2011), which is below the national average. The State’s per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the fourth lowest in the country (2010-11). Madhya Pradesh is also the lowest-ranked State on the Indian State Hunger Index (ISHI). However, the State is rich in mineral resources with the largest reserves of diamond and copper in India.
As for transportation, bus and train services cover most of the State with 99,043 km long road network including 20 national highways and 4,948 km long rail network that criss-crosses the State. The Devi Ahalyabai Holker Airport at Indore is the busiest airport in Madhya Pradesh. Besides, Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal. Jabalpur Airport, Gwalior Airport and Khajuraho Airport have scheduled commercial passenger services.
As for sports, cricket, football, basketball, volleyball, badminton, table tennis and trekking are popular in the State.
The State’s tourism industry is growing, fuelled by wildlife tourism, and a number of spots of historical and religious significance. Among them, Sanchi and Khajuraho by foreign tourists. Besides the major sites, Bhimbetka, Bhojpur, and Ujjain are the other tourist destinations. Thus the tourism industry of the State has gained considerable growth, achieving the National Tourism Awards in 2010-2011.