anipur, literally meaning the land of gems, is stretched between 23.80 degree to 25.68 degree North latitude and 93.03 degree to

94.78 degree East longitude, in the south-east corner of the northeastern region. Spread over an area of 22,327 square kilometers, Manipur comprises 8.52 per cent of the total area of the northeastern region and 0.67 per cent of Indian landmass. It is bounded on the north by Nagaland, on the east by Myanmar, on the south by the Chin Hills of Myanmar, and the Lushai Hills of Mizoram and Cachar Hills of Assam on the west. It shares a 352 kilometre long international boundary with Myanmar.

After India’s independence in 1947, the princely state of Manipur was merged with the Indian Union on October 15, 1949 and became a full-fledged state of India on 21 January 1972 after being upgraded from the status of a Union Territory. The state capital is located at Imphal.

Of the total area, about nine-tenths constitute the hills surrounding the remaining valley area. The State is divided into nine districts. Whereas the valley is divided into four districts, five districts constitute the hill area of the state. The forest cover accounts for 78.01 per cent of the State’s geographical area.

According to Census 2001, Manipur with a total population of 23,88,634 constitutes 0.23 per cent of the population of India and 6.12 per cent of the population in the Northeast. The State has a population density of 107 persons per square kilometre. Manipur is inhabited by three major ethnic groups - the Meiteis in the valley, and the Nagas and the Kuki-Chin tribes in the hills. The State is home to 33 recognized tribes. People are predominantly Mongoloid, and speak Tibeto-Burman languages. Manipuri language which is the mother-tongue of the Meitei people is the lingua-franca of the State. The literacy rate in the State is 59.89 per cent.

In Manipur, agriculture contributes a major share to the State Domestic Product and provides employment to about 57.38 per cent of the total population. The State has a vast area of forests, covering as much as 17.418 sq kms, which forms about 78 per cent of the total geographical area of the State. The per capita Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) in 2004-05 is Rupees 16299. The per capita Net State Domestic Product in 1999-2000 is Rupees 11370. The average annual growth rate between 1995-96 and 2004-05 has been 4.97 per cent. According to the Human Development Report 2001, Manipur ranks 9th in the human resource development index and 21st in the poverty index in India.

Underdevelopment, its alleged forcible merger with the Indian union and late grant of statehood has been seen as some of the reasons behind the rise of several insurgency movements in the State. Most of the tribes, inhabiting the hill areas of the State too have been represented by several outfits. In addition, the Naga insurgent outfits’ demand for the inclusion of the hill districts of Manipur in the present day Nagaland has also impacted on the prospects of peace in Manipur.