Andhra Pradesh, India
basic information

excerpted from the
Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000

Andhra Pradesh, state in southern India, bordered on the south by Tamil Nâdu state, on the west by Karnâtaka state, on the north and northwest by Mahârâshtra state, on the northeast by Madhya Pradesh and Orissa states, and on the east by the Bay of Bengal. Andhra Pradesh has an area of 275,045 sq km (106,195 sq mi).

The Eastern Ghats mountains run the length of the state. East of the mountains lies the coastal plain; to the west of the mountains is the upland Telangana Plateau. Andhra Pradesh is crossed by several rivers, most importantly the Godâvari and Krishna. The alluvial soils laid down by these rivers are highly fertile when irrigated and have made Andhra Pradesh one of India's leading agricultural areas. Average temperatures on the plateau range between 22° C (72° F) in December to 33° C (91° F) in May, the hottest month. The climate of the inland plateau area is generally cooler and drier than that of the coast, where temperatures can reach 42° C (108° F) during the summer months. Rain falls mainly during the monsoon months from July to October, and averages between 1400 mm (55 in) on the coast and 508 mm (20 in) inland. The monsoon brings damaging cyclones to the coastal plain. Andhra Pradesh had a population of 66,508,008 at the 1991 census, giving the state an average density of 242 persons per sq km (626 sq mi). Hyderâbâd is the state capital and largest city.

The two other main cities are Vishâkhapatnam, India's fourth largest port, and Vijayawâda. The state's name refers to the Andhra people, who have lived in the region for more than 2500 years, and who today comprise more than 85 percent of the population. They are Hindus and their language, Telugu, is the state's official language. A Muslim, Urdu-speaking minority lives in the upland plateau area, mostly in Hyderâbâd; there are Tamil and Kannada speakers in the south and southwest parts of the state. Andhra Pradesh has several museums, including the Salar Jung Museum, which features a varied collection of sculptures, paintings, and religious artifacts, and the Archaeological Museum, which features Buddhist and Hindu sculptures and other antiques; both museums are located in Hyderâbâd. Andhra Pradesh is also the home of many colleges and universities, including Andhra University (founded in 1926) in Waltair, Andhra Pradesh Agricultural University (1964) in Hyderâbâd, and Osmania University (1918), also in Hyderâbâd.

Agriculture is the most important sector of Andhra Pradesh's economy. About 70 percent of the population works in agriculture, and the state is one of India's main rice-producing areas. Other important crops are sugarcane, oilseeds, beans, and pulses (edible seeds from crops such as peas, lentils, and beans). Since Indian independence in 1947, the state government has worked to extend irrigation from the coast to the drier interior by building canals and dams. The Godâvari and Krishna rivers today irrigate 6 million hectares (14.8 million acres) of farmland. The Nagarjuna Sagar project on the Krishna River, completed in 1960, is one of the largest irrigation projects. It has 800 km (497 sq mi) of canals feeding an irrigated system that produces rice and other crops for industries processing agricultural products. Forested areas, which cover about 23 percent of Andhra Pradesh, yield timber products such as teak, eucalyptus, cashew, casuarina, softwoods, and bamboo. Andhra Pradesh is also one of India's most industrialized states. The industries, built up largely since 1947, include steel, shipbuilding, machine tool manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, heavy electrical machinery, fertilizers, cement, chemicals, sugar refining, and jute processing. Andhra Pradesh also has important mineral deposits, including coal, natural gas, asbestos, barites, copper, mica, and iron ore. The state is also the site of the Golconda mines, where the famous Koh-i-noor diamond (now one of the British crown jewels) was found. Tourism is of growing importance to the economy. Andhra Pradesh has an extensive road and rail network, a major port in Vishâkhapatnam, minor ports in several other cities, and airports at Hyderâbâd, Tirupathi, Vijayawâda, and Vishâkhapatnam.

Andhra Pradesh has a single-chamber Legislative Assembly of 295 seats. The state sends 60 members to the Indian national parliament: 18 to the Rajya Sabha (upper house) and 42 to the Lok Sabha (lower house). It has 23 local government administrative districts.

Sanskrit writings from the 7th century BC describe the Andhra people as Aryans from the north who migrated south of the Vindhya Range and mixed with non-Aryans. They are mentioned again at the time of the death of the great Mauryan King Ashoka, in 232 BC. This date has been held to be the beginning of the Andhra historical record. Various dynasties have ruled the area, including the Andhra (or Satavahana), Shakas, Ikshvakas, Eastern Chalukyas, Vijayanagar, the Qutb Shahis, and the nizams (princes) of Hyderâbâd. During the 17th century, the British acquired from the nizams first the coastal area (the province of Madras), and then the inland region of what is now Andhra Pradesh. Andhras were at the forefront of Indian nationalism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their demands for a separate state for Telugu speakers led to the formation of Andhra Pradesh in 1953 from parts of Madras and Hyderâbâd states; this led the way for the formation of language-based states throughout India in 1957.

The state was extended in 1956 to include the majority of Telugu speakers in the Hyderâbâd area. In June 1991 P. V. Narasimha Rao, who was chief minister of Andhra Pradesh from 1971 to 1973, became the first national prime minister from southern India. International Film Festival of India, oldest motion-picture festival in Asia, and an important forum for international cinema. The country of India, which has the world's largest film industry, producing more films annually than even Hollywood, sponsored this annual noncompetitive film festival beginning in 1952. Every second year, the festival is held in Delhi, while in even-numbered years it rotates among the cities of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Calcutta, Hyderâbâd, and Chennai (formerly Madras). Each year, regardless of which city hosts the festival, a selection of films from the program travels to the other cities.

Although the International Film Festival of India was founded in 1952, nine years passed before the second festival took place (1961) and four years passed before each of the next two events (1965 and 1969). The festival was not held again until 1976 in Bombay. Since then, the festival, with its unique cycle of locations, has taken place every January. While the festival is best known for its extensive survey of Indian cinema (all films are subtitled in English) and its Third World Women's Film Program, each year it also features a selection of more than 100 films from around the world and exhaustive coverage of a particular national cinema. In addition, it offers retrospective showcases of films by master filmmakers from India and abroad; for example, the 1984 festival presented films by Swedish director Ingmar Bergman, Polish director Andrzej Wajda, Japanese director Nagisa Oshima, and German director Volker Schlöndorff. Never a major foreign tourist attraction, the festival nonetheless attracts thousands of local attendees and remains a favorite among filmmakers who understand the importance of festivals in marketing new work. It has become a crucial venue for American and European film promoters seeking to attract Indian and Southeast Asian buyers and distributors.

Ajanta Caves, group of about 30 caves carved out of the sides of a steep ravine in east central India, in Mahârâshtra State (formerly Hyderâbâd), near the village of Ajanta. The caves, discovered in 1819, are famous for their frescoes, and also contain a significant amount of sculptural work. The caves were painted between the 2nd century BC and the 7th century AD. These historic wall paintings trace the development of painting styles during that time. Most of the wall paintings are based on the Jatakas (stories of the former lives of Gautama, the Buddha), or on events in the life of the Buddha. The feeling of the kinship of all living things, which plays so large a part in Buddhism, is apparent in all the paintings. Their astonishing liveliness, their rich and subtle colors, and the consummate skill of their execution make them the supreme monument of Buddhist painting in India.

India's large diversity of languages contributed to internal political problems during the 1950s and early 1960s. Although Gandhi had reorganized the Congress movement in 1920 to reflect linguistic divisions, and though the nationalist movement had always promised a reorganization of provincial boundaries once independence was achieved, Nehru resisted a demand to bring together the Telugu-speaking areas of the former British province of Madras and Hyderâbâd state. He yielded only when the leader of the movement fasted to death, and severe riots broke out. A States Reorganization Commission was appointed, and in 1956 the interior boundaries of India were redrawn along linguistic lines. In 1960 much of the land making up Bombay state was divided into Mahârâshtra and Gujarât states, with the remainder going to Karnâtaka state. In 1966 most of Punjab was split into the states of Punjab and Haryâna after significant public protest. Aside from some minor border disputes, and with additional states formed mainly in northeast India, the reorganization generally strengthened India's unity.

The thorny problem of a national language for the country remained. The constitution specified that Hindi, spoken in many dialects by 40 percent of Indians, would become the official language in 1965, after a transition in which English, spoken by the educated elite of the country, would serve. Non-Hindi speakers, especially in the south Indian state of Madras (later renamed Tamil Nâdu), mobilized against central government efforts to impose Hindi. To settle the dispute, the government allowed continued use of English for states that wished to keep it.

During its first years as a republic India figured increasingly in international affairs, especially in deliberations and activities of the UN. Nehru became world famous as the leading spokesman for nonalignment, the idea that other countries should refuse to take sides in a mounting ideological and political struggle between the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and the United States known as the Cold War. Indian determination to avoid entanglement with either of these powers became increasingly apparent after the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-1953). Although the Indian government approved the UN Security Council resolution invoking military sanctions against North Korea, no Indian troops were committed to the cause, and Nehru dispatched notes on the situation to the United States and the Soviet Union, repeatedly trying to restore peace in Korea. In its initial attempts at mediation the Indian government suggested that admitting China to the UN was a prerequisite to a solution of the Korean crisis. Even after China intervened in the Korean War-and despite India's differences with China over Tibet, which China had invaded in 1950-India adhered to this view. However, it was rejected by a majority of the UN Security Council.