Mizoram is one of the states of Northeast India, with Aizawl as its capital city. The name is derived from “Mizo” (which is the name of the native inhabitants) and “Ram” (which means land) and thus, Mizoram means Land of the Mizos. In the northeast, it is the southern most landlocked state sharing borders with three of the Seven, now with the addition of Sikkim, Eight sister states, namely Tripura, Assam, Manipur. The state also shares a 722 kilometre border with the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Like several other northeastern states of India, Mizoram was previously part of Assam until 1972, when it was carved out as a Union Territory. It became the 23rd state of India, a step above Union Territory, on 20 February 1987, with Fifty-Third Amendment of Indian Constitution,1986.
Mizoram’s population was 1,091,014, according to a 2011 census. It is the 2nd least populous state in the country. Mizoram covers an area of approximately 21,087 square kilometres. About 91% of the state is forested.
About 95% of the current population is of diverse tribal origins who settled in the state, mostly from Southeast Asia, over waves of migration starting about the 16th century but mainly in the 18th century. This is the highest concentration of tribal people among all states of India, and they are currently protected under Indian constitution as a Scheduled Tribe. Mizoram is one of three states of India with a Christian majority (87%). Its people belong to various denominations, mostly Presbyterian in its north and Baptists in south.
Mizoram is a highly literate agrarian economy, but suffers from slash-and-burn jhum or shifting cultivation, and poor crop yields. In recent years, the jhum farming practices are steadily being replaced with a significant horticulture and bamboo products industry. The state’s gross state domestic product for 2012 was estimated at ₹6,991 crore (US$1.1 billion). About 20% of Mizoram’s population lives below poverty line, with 35% rural poverty. The state has about 871 kilometres of national highways, with NH-54 and NH-150 connecting it to Assam and Manipur respectively. It is also a growing transit point for trade with Myanmar and Bangladesh.
The origin of the Mizos, like those of many other tribes in the northeastern India, is shrouded in mystery. The people living in the Mizo Hills were generally referred to as the Cucis or Kukis by their neighbouring ethnic groups which was also a term adopted by the British writers. The claim that ‘The Kukis are the earliest known residents of the Mizo hills area,’ must be read in this light. The majority of the tribes classified as “Mizo” today most likely migrated to their present territories from the neighbouring countries in several waves, starting around 1500 CE.
Before the British Raj, the various Mizo clans lived in autonomous villages. The tribal chiefs enjoyed an eminent position in the gerontocratic Mizo society. The various clans and subclans practised slash-and-burn, locally called jhum cultivation – a form of subsistence agriculture. The chiefs were the absolute rulers of their respective clans’ territories (ram), although they remained under the nominal political jurisdictions of the Rajas of Manipur, Tripura and Burma. There were many instances of tribal raids and head-hunting led by the village chieftains. Head-hunting was a practice which involved ambushing, taking slaves and cutting off the heads of fighters from the enemy tribe, bringing it back, and displaying it at the entrance of the tribal village
Mizoram has the third highest total forest cover with 1,594,000 hectares (3,940,000 acres), and highest percentage area (90.68%) covered by forests, among the states of India, according to 2011 Forest Survey of India. Tropical Semi Evergreen, Tropical Moist Deciduous, Subtropical Broadleaved Hill and Subtropical Pine Forests are the common vegetation types found in Mizoram. Bamboo is common in the state, typically intermixed with other forest vegetation; about 9,245 km2 (44%) of state’s area is bamboo bearing. The state and central governments of India have cooperated to reserve and protect 67% of the land covered by forests, and additional 15% by management. Only 17% of the land is non-forested area for cultivation, industry, mining, housing and other commercial human activity. Satellite data suggests 91% of state’s geographical area is covered by forests.
Jhum cultivation, or slash-and-burn practice, were a historic tradition in Mizoram and a threat to its forest cover. This practice has reduced in recent decades from a government supported initiative to support horticultural crops such as pineapple and banana plantations.
Mizoram is host to numerous species of birds, wildlife and flora. About 640 species of birds have been identified in the state, many of which are endemic to Himalayan foothills and southeast Asia. Of the birds found in Mizoram forests, 27 are on worldwide threatened species list and 8 are on critically endangered list. Prominent birds spotted in Mizoram include those from the families of Phasianidae, Anatidae, Ciconiidae, Threskiornithidae, Ardeidae, Pelecanidae, Phalacrocoracidae, Falconidae, Accipitridae, Otididae, Rallidae, Heliornithidae, Turnicidae, Burhinidae, Charadriidae, Scolopacidae, Jacanidae, Laridae, Columbidae, Psittacidae, Cuculidae, Strigidae, Caprimulgidae, Apodidae, Alcedinidae, Meropidae, Bucerotidae, Ramphastidae, Picidae, Pittidae, Laniidae, Campephagidae, Dicruridae, Corvidae, Paridae, Hirundinidae, Cisticolidae, Pycnonotidae, Sylviidae, Timaliidae, Sittidae, Sturnidae, Turdidae, Dicaedae, Chloropseidae, Ploceidae, Motacillidae, Fringillidae, Nectariniidae and Muscicapidae. Each of these families have many species.
The state is also host to a variety of fauna, just like its sister northeastern Indian states. Mammal species observed in the Mizoram forests include slow loris (Nycticebus coucang), red serow; the state animal (Capricornis rubidus), goral (Nemorhaedus goral), tiger (Panthera tigris), leopard (Panthera pardus), clouded leopard (“Neofelis nebulosi”), leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis), and Asiatic black bear(Ursus thibetanus). Primates seen include stump-tailed macaque (Macaca arctoides), hoolock gibbon (Hylobates hoolock), Phayre’s leaf monkey (Trachypithecus phayrei) and capped langur (Trachypithecus pileatus). The state is also home to many reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates.
The state has two national parks and six wildlife sanctuaries – Blue Mountain (Phawngpui) National Park, Dampa Tiger Reserve (largest), Lengteng Wildlife Sanctuary, Murlen National Park, Ngengpui Wildlife Sanctuary, Tawi Wildlife Sanctuary, Khawnglung Wildlife Sanctuary, and Thorangtlang Wildlife Sanctuary.
Visitors to Mizoram are required to obtain an ‘inner line permit’ under the special permit before visiting. Domestic and international visitors face different requirements.
The state requires Inner Line Pass. This is available from the Liaison Officer, Government of Mizoram in Kolkata, Silchar, Shillong, Guwahati and New Delhi. Those arriving by air can obtain a 15-day visit pass at Lengpui airport, Aizawl by submitting photographs and paying the fee of ₹120 (US$1.90).
Almost all foreign nationals can also get visitor pass on arrival, and face the same requirements as domestic tourists. However, they additionally have to register themselves with state police within 24 hours of arrival, a formality that most resorts can provide. Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals having their origin in these countries are required to get the pass through the Indian consulate or from the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi, before they arrive in Mizoram.
Mizoram is a place with flora and fauna rich landscape and pleasant climate. The tourism ministry regulates the maintenance and upgrade of tourist lodges throughout the state.
The state is a bird watcher’s destination. For Mrs. Hume’s pheasant (Syrmaticus humiae), Mizoram is a stronghold. Wild water buffalo, Sumatran rhinoceros, elephants and other mammals have been spotted in the past.