Meghalaya, "the abode of clouds", became a full-fledged State on January 21, 1972. It is bounded on the north and on the east by the state of Assam. On the south and west is Bangladesh. Meghalaya lies between 20° l' N and 26° 5'N latitude and 85° 49'E and 92°52'E longitude.
The total area of the State is 22,429 square Kilometres with a population of 23,18,822 (2001 census). The population density per square kilometre is 103. They are predominantly inhabited by the tribal communities namely the Khasis, the Jaintias and the Garos, who are the descendants of very ancient people having distinctive traits and ethnic origins.The principal languages in Meghalaya are Khasi and Garo with English as the official language of the State. Khasi and Garo languages and literature have developed mainly because of the initiative of the Christian Missionaries. The State has a unicameral legislature.


The Khasi Hills and Jaintia Hills which form the central and eastern part of Meghalaya is an imposing plateau with rolling grassland, hills and river valleys. The southern face of the plateau is marked by deep gorges and abrupt slopes. Waterfalls rush down steep slopes and carve deep valleys through which swift-flowing rivers descend to the plains.At the foot of these slopes, a narrow strip of plain land runs along the international border with Bangladesh.

The northern section of the plateau has an undulating topography with a series of hills rising to almost the same height, extending northward to slope gradually, merging with the plains of Assam. The accordant summit of these hills varies from 170m to 820m.Nongpoh village lying half way on the Guwahati-Shillong Road stands on a flat top of 70m high on this hill section.

The height of the central plateau of the Khasi Hills hovers around 1500m with the Shillong Peak (1965m), the highest point in the plateau, overlooking Shillong Town. The Garo Hills which form the western part of Meghalaya are lower in elevation. The greater part of the Garo Hills range in height from 450m to 600m and drop steeply to the Brahmaputra valley on the north and to the plains of Bangladesh on the south. Nokrek Peak (1412m), east of Tura Town, is the highest peak in western Meghalaya.

A number of rivers, none of them navigable, drain this mountainous State. In the Garo Hills, the Manda, the Damring and the Janjiram, flow towards the north while the Ringge and the Ganol flow in the westerly direction. Those that flow to the south are the Simsang, which is the biggest river in Garo Hills, and the Bhogai.

In the Khasi and Jaintia Hills, the rivers that flow in a northerly direction include the Khri, the Umtrew, the Umiam, the Umkhen besides the Kopli on the border between Jaintia -Hills and North Cachar Hills. The Kynshi, the Umiam Mawphlang and the Umngot flow to the south into Bangladesh.

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