Maharashtra is a state in the Western region of India. It is bordered by the Arabian Sea to the west, Gujarat and the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli to the north-west, Madhya Pradesh to the north and northeast, Chhattisgarh to the east, Karnataka to the south, Andhra Pradesh to the south-east, and Goa to the south-west.
The State covers an area of 307,731 km² of the total geographical area of India. The Western Ghats are a hilly range running parallel to the coast, at an average elevation of 1,200 metres from the sea level. Kalsubai, a peak near Nasik City, is the highest elevated point in Maharashtra. To the west of these hills lie the Konkan coastal plains, 50-80 km in width. To the east of the Ghats lies the flat Deccan Plateau. The Western Ghats form one of the three watersheds of India, from which many South Indian rivers originate, notable among them being the Godavari River and Krishna River, which flow eastward into the Bay of Bengal.
In the 16th century, people of the area called the Marathas rose under the leadership of Chhatrapati Shivaji against the Mughals, who ruled a large part of India. By 1760, the Maratha Empire had reached its zenith with a territory of over 250 million acres or one-third of the Indian subcontinent. After the Third Anglo-Maratha War, the empire ended, and most of Maharashtra became part of Bombay State under the British rule. After Indian independence, Samyukta Maharashtra Samiti demanded unification of all Marathi-speaking regions under one State. At that time, Babasaheb Ambedkar was of opinion that linguistic reorganisation of States should be done on a ‘One State—One language’ principle and not on one language — One State principle. He submitted a memorandum to the Reorganisation Commission stating that a single government cannot administer such a huge state as United Maharashtra. The first State Reorganisation Committee created the current Maharashtra State on 1 May 1996, known as the Maharashtra Day. The Marathi-speaking areas of Bombay State, Decan States and Vidarbha united, under the agreement known as the Nagpur Act, to form the current State.
As per the 2011 census, the total population of Maharashtra is 112,372,972, making it the second-most populous state in India. The sex ratio is 922 male for per 1,000 female. The literacy rate is 82.9% in the State. Marathi is the official language. In Mumbai and suburban area, apart from the native Marathi, English, Gujarati and Urdu are also spoken. Urdu is mainly spoken in Muslim majority areas of Mumbai and its suburbs.
As for religion, Hindus form 82% of the State’s total population. Islam is the second-largest religion in the State. Buddhism is the third largest religion, while Jains, Christians, Sikhs and Zoroastrians are the minor communities.
Like all the States in India, the nominal head of the State of Maharashtra is the Governor, appointed by the Union Government. The post is mostly ceremonial. The Chief Minister is the head of the State Government and is vested with most of the executive powers. Maharashtra’s legislature is bicameral. The Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) is the lower house consisting of directly elected members. The Vidhan Parishad (Legislative Council) is the upper house, whose members are indirectly voted through an electoral college. Maharashtra is allocated 19 seats in the Rajya Sabha, and 48 seats in the Lok Sabha in India’s national parliament. The capital city of Maharashtra is Mumbai Maharashtra is the wealthiest state in India, contributing 15% of the country’s industrial output and 14% of its GDP. The State has three of the fifteen most important cities of India—Pune, Nagpur and the financial capital Mumbai. India’s largest stock exchange—Bombay Stock Exchange—the oldest in Asia, is also located in the city. Maharashtra has set up software parks in Pune, Navi Mumbai, Aurangabad, Nagpur and Nasik. Now Maharashtra is the second largest exporter of software products. Pune is another city of Maharashtra which is considered among the top 8 cities in India. It is the education and IT hub of India. Pune is also called “Oxford of the East for the quality of education provided by the University of Pune. Mumbai is home for the world’s largest film industry—Bollywood, Hindi film-making industry.
Mumbai has the largest road network in India at 267,452 kilometres. The State is also well-connected to other parts of the country with a railway network spanning 5,983 km between four Railways. Most of the State’s airfields are operated by the Airports Authority of India. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is among the busiest airports in India.