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State Profile

Geography

Gujarat is situated between 20o1' and 24o7' north latitudes and 68o4' and 74o4'east longitudes on the west coast of India. It is bounded on the west by the Arabian sea, on the north-west by Pakistan, on the north by Rajasthan, on the east by Madhya Pradesh and on the south and south-east by Maharashtra.

The state of Gujarat occupies the northern extremity of the western sea-board of India. It has the longest coast line 1290 km among Indian states. The state comprises three geographical regions.

  • The peninsula, traditionally known as Saurashtra. It is essentially a hilly tract sprinkled with low mountains.
  • Kutch on the north-east is barren and rocky and contains the famous Rann (desert) of Kutch, the big Rann in the north and the little Rann in the east.
  • The mainland extending from the Rann of Kutch and the Aravalli Hills to the river Damanganga is on the whole a level plain of alluvial soil.

History

Gujarat forms an area that housed the regions of the Indus Valley civilization and Harappan sites. Around 50 Harappan sites are found in Gujarat. Lothal, Rangpur, Amri, Lakhabaval, Rozdi etc. are some of these sites. This makes it an important territory that reveals the history of India. The Dravidian tribes were said to be the original inhabitants of this region. Even before the Aryan occupation of Gujarat, it is said to have had trade contracts with Sumer, the Persian Gulf in about 1000-750BC. Rock edicts in the Girnar hills indicate that Ashoka extended his domain into Gujarat. It was during the Mauryan rule that this region witnessed the influence of Buddhism. The Mauryans also promoted trade and helped in spread of its culture. In about 150BC the Bactarian Greeks under Meander is said to have instilled their rule. Till 40AD they are said to have had trade contracts with Rome. From about AD130-390 the Scythians ruled it. After 300AD the Guptas established their reign which lasted till 460AD. The Vallabhi established their sway in between (500-700AD). After the death of Harshvardhana, the Gujjars controlled it till 746AD. The Solankis ruled over Gujarat till 1143. Gujarat attained its greatest territorial extent under the Solanki dynasty, from the 9th century. Muhammud of Ghazni attacked Somnath in Gujarat leading to the downfall of the Solankis. The conquest of Ala-ud-din Khilji king of Delhi in 1288 also influenced the conditions in Gujarat. The Sultans of Delhi had their sway over Gujarat from 1298-1392AD. Ahmad Shah I, the first independent Muslim ruler of Gujarat founded Ahmadabad in 1411. Then the Mughals ruled for about 2 centuries till the Marathas terminated their rule in the mid 18th century. It was during the18th century that Gujarat was divided among number of chiefs. From 1803-1827 the British set up their administration. The British East India company first head quarters in India was at Surat. It was later moved to Bombay. Finally on May1, 1960, the state of Gujarat was formed from the north and west portions of Bombay state, the remainder being renamed the state of Maharashtra.

The state of Gujarat has an area of 196,024 sq. km. and a population of 60.38 million. There are 25 districts, 170 blocks and 18539 villages. The State has population density of 258 per sq. km. (as against the national average of 312). The decadal growth rate of the state is 22.66% (against 21.54% for the country) and the population of the state continues to grow at a much faster rate than the national rate.

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