State of northeast India; area 155,782 sq km/60,148 sq mi; population (2001 est) 36,706,900. The capital is Bhubaneshwar. Industries include chemicals, paper, steel, aluminium smelting, and mineral extraction. Over 80% of the population make their living from agriculture, with rice as the dominant crop. Wheat, oilseed, jute, coconuts, and sugarcane are also grown. Oriya is the official language, and 90% of the population are Hindu.
Geography The state contains the coastal plain of Bay of Bengal, extending inland to the Eastern Ghats; the Mahanadi River valley and delta, containing the greatest population concentration; the shallow Chilka Lake with fisheries and game, set in the coastal swamps; and the upland areas of the Ghats and Chota Nagpur plateau, which contain minerals.
Features These include the temple of Jagannath or Juggernaut at Puri, the Hirakud dam on the Mahanadi River, which provides irrigation and power, Utkal University, and the Agricultural University at Bhubaneswar. Towns and cities include Cuttack and Raurkela.
Economy There are chemical, paper, and steel industries; aluminium is smelted at Hirakud using power from the dam. Minerals include chromite (95% of India's output), dolomite, graphite, iron (for the steel works at Raurkela), manganese, coal, bauxite, and limestone. Agricultural produce includes rice, wheat, oilseed, and sugar.
Ancient history Orissa was part of the kingdom of Kalinga from the 4th century BC; the Ganga dynasty (12th–15th century AD) built the Jagannath Temple at Puri, and was responsible for the most significant period for temple architecture. The Muslims conquered the region in 1592 and the Marathas in 1751.
History from 1800 Orissa was administered by the British 1803–1912 as a subdivision of Bengal; it joined with Bihar to become a province. In 1936 Orissa became a separate province, and in 1948–49 its area was almost doubled when 48 princely states merged with it before its designation as a state in 1950. In the 1960s a drought resulted in the death of 1 million people from famine; the Hirakud dam complex has helped to reduce the risk of another catastrophe.
Natural disasters About 10,000 people died in October 1999 when cyclones and floods caused damages of $2,500 million to Orissa.