Tamil Nadu (formerly known as Madras) is a State in the southern-most part of the Indian peninsula. It is bound by the Eastern Ghats in the north, the Nilgiri and the Anamalai Hills on the west, by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Gulf of Mannar, the Palk Strait in the south-east and by the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea in the south. It is politically bordered by the union territory of Puducherry to the east and the States of Kerala to the west, Karnataka to the north-west and Andhra Pradesh to the north.
The region has been the home of the Tamil people since at least 500 BC. When India became independent in 1947, Madras Presidency under the British rule became Madras State. The State was subsequently split up along linguistic lines and in 1969, Madras State was renamed Tamil Nadu, meaning Tamil country. Its capital is Chennai.
The western, north-western and southern parts are hilly and rich in vegetation. The eastern parts are fertile coastal plains and the northern parts are a mix of hills and plains. The central and south-central regions are arid plains and receive less rainfall than the other regions. Tamil Nadu is mostly dependent on monsoon rains, and thereby prone to droughts when the monsoons fail. The climate of the State ranges from dry sub-humid to semi-arid. The State has three distinct periods of rainfall: south-west monsoon from June to September, north-east monsoon from October to December, and the dry season from January to May.
Tamil Nadu is the seventh most populous state in India. As of 2011 census, the State’s population is 72,138,958 and sex ratio is 987 female for 1,000 males. About 44% of the people live in urban areas, the highest ratio among the large States in India. The literacy rate is 80.3% (2011 census). As for religion, about 89% of the population are Hindus; Christians and Muslims together form 11% and Jains make up 0.13% of the population. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes comprise 19% and 1%, respectively.
The State comprises 234 Legislative Assembly constituencies and 40 seats at Lok Sabha. The term of the government is five years, as is elsewhere in India. There have been several splits in both DMK and AIADMK, but since 1967 one of there two parties have held power in the State. In 2011, the AIADMK alliance came to power headed by the Chief Minister. J. Jayalalitha. Tamil Nadu has been a pioneering State of E-governance initiatives in India.
Tamil is the State language of Tamil Nadu. English is also in common usage as an official language of India. When India adopted national standards, Tamil was the very first language to be recognised as a classical language of India. Minority languages include Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Urdu, Gujarati, Saurashtra, Marathi and Hindi. Most Tamil literary works are in verse form, with prose becoming more common in later periods.
Pongal, a four-day harvest festival, is one of the most widely celebrated festivals throughout Tamil Nadu. Tamils have a large number of folk dances The most celebrated of these dances are Bharatanatyam and Karakattam.
The economy of Tamil Nadu is based on both agriculture and industry. Tamil Nadu has historically been an agricultural state and is a leading producer of agricultural products, especially rice, in India. The Cauvery delta region is known as the Rice Bowl of South India. The Stae is the largest producer of bananas, the second-largest producer of mango, natural rubber, coconut, groundnut, and the third-largest producer of coffee, tea and Sugarcane.
Tamil Nadu is one of the highly industrialised states in India. Its major investments are in the automobile industry over many decades by manufacturing cars, railway coaches, tractors, motorcycles, etc. Textile mills and engineering industries are present around the city of Coimbatore. Tamil Nadu has the third largest established power generating capacity in the country. The Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant is in Tamil Nadu.
Besides good roadways, Tamil Nadu has a well-developed rail network as part of the Southern Railway. Moreover, Tamil Nadu has 3 international airports, a customs airport and 2 domestic airports. The State has also 3 major seaports located at Chennai, Ennore and Tuticorin.
The most popular game in Tamil Nadu is cricket. The M. A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai is an international cricket arena. Tennis is also a popular sport with notable international players like Vijay Amritraj and Mahesh Bhupathi. The State boasts of eight Grand Masters and numerous International Masters in Chess including five-time World Chess Champion Viswanathan Anand. However, kabaddi is recognised as the State Game.
Tamil Nadu is a favourite place for the tourists for its temple heritage and sea beaches. Thousands of the tourists visit the Meenakshi temple at Madurai, Sri Ranganathaswamy temple and Srirangan, Tirupati temple, etc. every year. There is the famous Rockfort Temple at Rameshwaram, whose Temple walkways corridor is the longest (1.2 km) of all Indian temples in the world.
Kanyakumari, the southernmost tip of peninsular India and the meeting point of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea is famous for its sunrise, and for Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Kanyakumari temple.