Rajasthan

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Rajasthan

Rajasthan (rä´jəstän), state (2001 provisional pop. 56,473,122), 132,150 sq mi (342,269 sq km), NW India, bordered on the west by Pakistan. The capital is Jaipur; other large cities are Ajmer, Jodhpur, Bikaner, Kota, and Udaipur. In the west of the state is the Thar (Indian) Desert, which is sparsely inhabited by pastoral nomads; there are significant oil deposits in the west. In the east is part of the upland region of the Deccan, where, with the aid of irrigation, millet, wheat, and cotton are grown. The state's cultivated acreage has increased through irrigation projects, including the Indira Gandhi Canal, opened in 1984. The Aravalli Hills cross the state from the northeast to the southwest; they produce salt, lead, zinc, marble, coal, mica, phosphate, and gypsum. Handicrafts are Rajasthan's leading industry. Hindus comprise about 75% of the population, which also includes Muslims, Jains, and native peoples. Rajasthani and Hindi are the principal languages.

The state was formed in 1948 from several former principalities of Rajputana. Other small areas were added in 1949, 1950, and 1956. Rajasthan is one of the strongholds of the conservative Hindu Bharatiya Janata and Janata Dal political parties, which are supported by many former Rajput princes. The state has numerous famous Buddhist, Jain, and Mughal monuments. In 1974 the desert region of Rajasthan was the site of the underground explosion of India's first nuclear device. Rajasthan is governed by a chief minister and cabinet responsible to an elected unicameral legislature and by a governor appointed by India's president.

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