State in east central India; area 276,814 sq km/106,878 sq mi; population (2001 est) 75,727,500. The main cities and towns are Hyderabad (capital), Secunderabad, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Kakinda, Guntur, and Nellore. The state is situated on coastal plains with extensive river valleys (Krishna and Godavari) reaching into the Eastern Ghats; smaller rivers are the Pennar and Cheyyar; the Deccan plateau lies inland. During the second half of the 20th century, with government support and a massive increase in hydroelectric and thermal power production, the state became highly industrialized, with industries including iron and steel, oil refining, shipbuilding, chemicals, and fertilizers. The main agricultural products are rice, millet, sugar cane, tobacco, groundnuts, sorghum, and cotton. The languages spoken are Telugu, Urdu, and Tamil.
The state was formed in 1953 from the Telugu-speaking areas of Madras, and enlarged on a similar linguistic basis in 1956 with parts of the former Hyderabad state.
Complexes such as the Godavari Delta, Nagarjunasagar, Pochampad, and Tungabhadra provide irrigation for rice and sugar cane which are grown in the delta regions, with millet and sorghum on the drier upland areas, and forested areas cultivated by a shifting population about 1 million strong. Multi-purpose irrigation and hydroelectric-power projects include Pochampad, Bhaira Vanitippa, and Upper Penneru, and hydroelectric power generation has aided large-scale industrial expansion. The major manufacturing centres are at Hyderabad, where technological industries such as the manufacture of aeronautical equipment, machine tools, and electrical goods have grown up; and the port of Vishakhapatnam, which has the largest shipyard in India, as well as heavy engineering, iron and steel production, oil refining, and fertilizer production. The Vijayawada-Guntur region has a variety of industries, including chemicals, textiles, cement, fertilizers, processed foods, plastics, and tobacco products. Coal from the lower Godavari valley, and iron ore extracted in the far north, are the state's main mineral resources. Mica is mined near Nellore.
Early history In the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, a powerful Andhra kingdom covered much of the Deccan. Later it was ruled by Hindu and Muslim emperors, followed by the Nizams of Hyderabad.
Culture Many Andhras speak Telugu, a Dravidian language, and have a distinct culture, notably in art, dancing, and literature.
Economy Over half of the workforce is employed in agriculture, although the state has a fast-growing industrial sector. The waters of the rivers Krishna and Godavari are increasingly used in irrigation and power generation schemes.
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