Odisha, also known as Orissa, is a largely populated State of India. It is the modern name of the ancient kingdom of Kalinga which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 269 BC. Thereafter it had the name Utkala. It is situated on the east coast of India by the Bay of Bengal. It is surrounded by the other Indian States—West Bengal to the north-east, Jharkhand to the north, Chhattisgarh to the west and north-west, and Andhra Pradesh to the south.
The modern State of Odisha/Orissa was established on 1 April 1936, as a province in British India, predominantly populated by Oriya-speaking people. This day (1 April) is, therefore, celebrated as Utkala Dibasa (foundation day of Odisha).
Odisha is the 9th largest State by area and 11th largest by population in India. It has a varied geographical feature. The Chhota Nagpur plateau occupies the western and northern portions of the State, while the eastern and southern coastal parts are fertile alluvial plains and the valleys of the Mahanadi, Brahmani and Baitarani rivers which fall into the Bay of Bengal.
The climate of Odisha is tropical. Odisha’s vast forest cover still offers an unspoiled landscape and protected yet natural habitat of wildlife. Chilika (Chilka), a brackish water coastal lake on the south of the mouth of the Mahanadi river on the Bay of Bengal, is the largest coastal lake in India and the second largest in the world. It is a favourite haunt for migratory birds from as far as the Caspian Sea, Lake Baikal, the Aral Sea and other remote parts of Russia, Central and South-east Asia, Ladakh and the Himalayas.
Odisha, as a State of Indian Republic, is governed through a system of representative democracy with the Chief Minister and the cabinet from the Legislative Assembly. The Governor is the titular head appointed by President of India. The Assembly is unicameral with 147 elected members including one nominated from the Anglo-Indian community. It runs for five years unless the Assembly is dissolved prior to the completion of the term. Local elected bodies known as Panchayats govern local affairs. The State contributes 21 seats to Lok Sabha and 10 seats to Rajya Sabha of the Indian Parliament. Bhubaneswar is the capital city of Odisha.
The economy of Odisha depends on both agricultural and industrial growth. The rice belt is mainly on the alluvial plains on the coastal part of the State. It has abundant natural resources too. It contains a fifth of India’s coal, a quarter of its iron ore, a third of its bauxite reserves and most of the chromite. Rourkela Steel Plant was the first integrated steel plant in the public sector in India, built in collaboration with Germany. It has developed unprecedented investments in steel, aluminium, power, refineries and ports. Paradip is the best deep water port in Odisha.
Odisha has a network of roads, railways, airports and seaports. Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha, is well connected by air, rail and road with the rest of India. Some highways are getting expanded to four lanes. However, flood and cyclone are the major hurdles in Odisha’s development as all the important districts are situated near the Bay of Bengal.
The population density of Odisha is 269 per km2. According to the 2011 census of India, the total population of Odisha is 41,947,358 of which 21,201, 678 (50.54%) are male and 20,745,680 (49.46%) are female or 978 females per 1,000 males. The literacy rate is 73% with 82% of males and 64% of females, according to the 2011 census. The proportion of people living below the poverty line in 1999-2000 was 47.15% which is nearly double the all-India average of 26.10%. The State has a birth rate of 23.2% and a death rate of 9.1% per year.
The dominant ethnic group in the State is the Oriya people, and Oriya is the official language. It is spoken as a native language by 73% of the population. Other linguistic minorities in the State are Bengali, Hindi, Telugu and Santhali. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes from 16.53% and 22.13% of the total population. Some of the important tribes are Santhal, Bonda, Munda, Oraon, Kora and Mahali.
The majority (over 94%) of people in the State of Odisha are Hindu. Christians in Odisha account for about 2.4%, while Muslims account for 2.1% of the population as per the census of 2001.
The Oriya literature may be subdivided into the age of Charya literature, age of Sarat Das, age of Panchasakha, age of Upendra Bhanja, age of Radhanath, age of Satyabadi, age of Marxism or Pragati Yuga, age of Romanticism or Sabuja Yuga and Post Independent age.
Odisha has a rich cultural heritage. Odissi dance and music are classical art forms. Odissi dance is the oldest surviving form in India on the basis of archaeological evidence. Being a part of the rich culture of Odisha, its music also is charming and of a wide variety. It is more than 2,500 years old and comprises of broadly five categories—Tribal music, Folk music, Light music, light-classical music and classical music. Anyone who is trying to understand the culture of Odisha must take into account its music which essentially forms a part of its legacy. The Konark Sun Temple is a UNESCO World Heritage. The Jagannath temple of Puri is the famous spot of pilgrimage.
Other cultural attractions include the patta citrus (palm leaf paintings), famous stone utensils, the sari of Odisha, and various tribal-influenced cultural specimens. The sand art is a unique type of art, developed at Puri sea beach, which has spread its name all over the world.
Tourism in Odisha has spread centring around the Jagannath Temple and Rath Jatra at Puri, the Lingaraj Temple at Bhubaneswar and the Sun Temple at Konark. The Chilika Lake, the Gopalpur sea beach, the Hatigumpha and Ranigumpha at Udaygiri and Khandagiri caves are other special attractions for tourism in Odisha.