Meghalaya, 'the Abode of Clouds' is one of the North Eastern states of India. It was carved out of Assam to become an autonomous district on April 2, 1970 and was declared a full fledged state of the Indian Union on January 21, 1972. It lies between latitudes 25°02’ and 26°07’ N and longitudes 89°49’and 92°50’E, with a geographical area of 22,429 sq. Km and an elevation range from 60m to 1961m asl ( Laitkor Peak at 1961m is the highest).
The state is characterised by mountainous terrains with rolling grasslands interspersed by rivers, valleys and can be broadly divided into three natural sectors, the Central Plateau, the Southern slopes bordering Bangladesh and the Northern slopes bordering Assam.
The State has a 496km long international boundary with Bangladesh in the South and West. It is bordered by Assam in the north and East. The Eastern Part is bound by the Karbi Hill which is part of the Meghalaya plateau. On all sides of the state lies an extensive plain drained by the river Brahmaputra (in the North and West) and the river Surma and its tributaries (in the South).
The climate is of monsoon type with distinct warm-wet and cold dry periods. The period between May and October is wet. The dry period extends from November to February. The western and Southern parts of the state are warmer than the central upland where mean temperature stands at 20°C. Average maximum and minimum temperatures and annual rainfall in the state varies from 5°C to 32°C and 4000mm to 11,436mm, respectively. Cherrapunji and Mawsynram, located in the southern part are the rainiest spots of the world.
Meghalaya is predominantly a tribal state and inhabited by mainly 3 tribal communities, namely Khasis, Jaintias and Garos who account for 89% of the total population. There are however other tribes like the Kochs, the Hajong, the Rabhas, the Mikirs and others who are also the aboriginals of the state.
The Khasis inhabiting the eastern part of Meghalaya were immigrants somewhere from the Cambodian region and from the banks of the Mekong river. Their language is an Austro-Asiatic type of the far East.
The Garos inhabiting the western part of Meghalaya are the Tibeto-Burman stock that drifted into Eastern India and Burma across Tibet. Their language retains similarity with Tibetans. Khasi, Garo and Jaintia communities are matrilineal consisting of different exogamous clans. Woman holds the property in this State.