Uttar Pradesh: A Profile

Located in the northern part of India, Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in the country, as well as the world's most populous sub-national entity. It shares an international border with Nepal to the north along with the Indian state of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh to the north-west, Haryana, Delhi and Rajasthan on the west, Madhya Pradesh on the south, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand on the south east and Bihar on the east.

Situated between 23o 52'N and 31o 28 N latitudes and 77o 3' and 84o 39'E longitudes, the state can be divided into three distinct hypsographical regions of: Himalayan region in the North, Gangetic plain in the centre, and the Vindya hills and plateau in the south. 

Geography and demography 

Uttar Pradesh can be divided into two distinct regions of Gangetic Plains and Vindhya Hills and plateau. The Gangetic region in the centre has highly fertile alluvial soils with flat topography broken by numerous ponds, lakes and rivers.

The smaller Vindhya Hills and Plateau region is in the south: it is characterised by hard rock strata and varied topography of hills, plains, valleys and plateau; limited availability of water makes the region relatively arid.

The climate is generally tropical monsoon, but variations exist due to difference in altitudes. Besides, the state can be divided in different regions like the Doab (including the upper Doab and the lower doab with the Brij bhumi in its centre), the Rohilkhand in the north, Awadh (the historic country of Koshal) in the centre, the northern parts of Bagelkhand and Bundelkhand in the south, and the south-western part called Purvanchal in the east.

The state’s demographics is undergoing dynamic change. It has a population of about 199,581,477 as per the 2011 census. If it were a separate country, UP would be the world's fifth most populous nation, next only to China, India, the United States of America and Indonesia. There is an average population density of 828 persons per km². The capital of Uttar Pradesh is Lucknow. Hindus and Muslims consider the state as a holy place.

The peripheral regions of Uttar Pradesh, are home to a number of tribal communities such as Agaria, Baiga, Bhar, Bhoksa, Bind, Chero, Gond, Kol and Korwa. Five of these tribal communities have been recoginised by the Government of India as disadvantaged scheduled tribes, viz. Tharus, Boksas, Bhotias, Jaunswaris and Rajis.

The Literacy rate of the state according to the 2011 Census is 69.70%. With the literacy rate for Males at 79.20%, while it is 59.30% for the Females. While this is still below the national average of 74.04% (82.14% for men, 65.16% for women) the rate of growth has been much higher in Uttar Pradesh as compared to the rest of India.

The state language is Hindi and Urdu has the status of being the second official language. While Hindi (Khari boli) is the official language, several regional Hindi dialects like Awadhi, Bagheli, Bhojpuri, Braj and Bundeli are spoken throughout the state. Bhojpuri is the second most-spoken language in the state, according to the language data in the 1991 Census of India. The language of Lucknow ("Lakhnavi Urdu") is a form of high literary Urdu. Ancient period

History and Culture

Uttar Pradesh’s known history goes back to 4000 years ago, when the Aryans first made it their home in 2000 BC. The Aryans first inhabited the Doab region and the Ghagra plains and called it the Madhya Desha (midland) or Aryavarta (the Aryan land) or Bharatvarsha (the kingdom of Bharat, an important Aryan king). Later, Aryans moved to other parts of the subcontinent, reaching as far as to Kerala in the south and also to Sri Lanka.

The ancient kingdom of Kosala in Ayodhya, where Lord Rama of the Ramayana reigned, was located here and Lord Krishna, revered as the eighth Avatara of Vishnu, was born in the city of Mathura. The Chaukhandi Stupa marks the spot where Lord Buddha met his first disciples. The Dhamek Stupa in Sarnath (Varanasi district) commemorates Buddha's first sermon.

In the latter part of ancient history, this area was divided between petty kingdoms or formed important parts of empires like Mauryas, Guptas and Kushan kings.

The Kannauj Empire originated from the heart of the Ganga Yamuna Doab and during the reign of Harshavardhana extended its territories from Afghanistan to Kashmir, Bengal and the Vindhyas. Even today many communities in various parts of India --- from Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Bengal boast of being descendants of migrants from Kannauj --- reflecting its glory in the past.

After the decline of the Rajput kings came the Muslims rulers and under their tutelege this region played a crucial role. During the Delhi Sultanate, much of the state formed part of the various rulers.

During the Mughal Empire, cities like Agra and Fatehapur Sikri got the distinction of becoming the capital city of Akbar the Great. The Mughals ruled almost the entire Indian subcontinent. Even when the empire disintegrated, this part, between the Doab region and Delhi, remained their last territory.

The city of Lucknow was established by the Muslim nawabs of Oudh in the 18th century. And other areas were occupied by different rulers like Rohilkhand by Afghans, Bundelkhand by the Marathas and Benaras by its own king, while Nepal controlled Kumaon-Garhwal (now in Uttrakhand).

From the later half of the 18th century, the British finally won the last Mughal territory -- the Doab, as also Bundelkhand, Kumaon and Banaras divisions. Delhi, Ajmer and Jaipur were also included in this territory. They called it the north western provinces (of Agra). Its capital shifted twice between Agra and Allahabad. In 1920, the capital was shifted from Allahabad to Lucknow.

The state continued to play a significant role in Indian culture and politics and has played an important role in modern Indian history during the Independence Movement. The city of Allahabad was home to leaders like Motilal Nehru, Purushottam Das Tandon, and Lal Bahadur Shastri, besides being home to five Prime Ministers: Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Vishwanath Pratap Singh and Rajiv Gandhi.

The first Chief Minister, Govind Ballabh Pant, renamed the state as Uttar Pradesh after independence. Pant also became Home Minister in the Nehru-led Union government. After Pant, Dr. Sampoornanand, a university professor and classicist, became the state’s CM and remained in office till 1957.

Sucheta Kripalani became India's first woman Chief Minister in October 1963 and continued till March 1967. Other political leaders who later became CMs were Charan Singh (formed the first non-Congress government and ruled for over a year), Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, Narain Dutt Tewari, VP Singh, etc.

Uttar Pradesh attracts a large number of both national and international visitors. Two regions in the state where a majority of the tourists go are Agra, and the holy cities like Varanasi, Ayodhya, Mathura, and Allahabad. Two sacred rivers, Ganga and Yamuna, are all located in the state, which hosts a Kumbha Mela every 12 years, where over 10 million Hindus congregate — the largest gathering of human beings in the world.

About 13 km from Varanasi is the important town of Sarnath, where Gautama Buddha gave his first sermon after his enlightenment. It is an important pilgrimage site for the Buddhists. Sarnath is also proud of having the Ashoka Pillar and the Lion Capital, important archaeological artifacts with national significance.


Uttar Pradesh is the second largest state-economy in India contributing 8.34% to India's total GDP. In the 11th five year plan (2007–12), Uttar Pradesh has registered 7.28% GDP growth rate against the target of 6.10% and is part of 5 states that exceeded the targets of growth rates. Rising GDP growth rate of UP is the result of current majority government which made significant changes in economic policy as UP had failed to attain even a GDP growth rate of 5% since Independence.

Uttar Pradesh is home to largest number of Small Scale industrial units in the country, with 12% of over 2.3 million units. With a solid GDP of US$20 billion, Kanpur is the largest economic hub of Uttar Pradesh - followed by Lucknow - that is why Kanpur is assigned the status of economic capital of Uttar Pradesh and is the only city of the State listed in the 'Top 10 Indian cities'.

Uttar Pradesh's Gross State Domestic product for 2004 is $1.2 trillion in current prices. After division of the state, it produces about 92% of the output of the old state. It has the distinction of being the second largest econmy in the country after Maharashtra. It is one of the eight states in India that have been chosen for FDI. In the fiscal year 2005-2006 it received an investment of $124.67 billion.

The state’s economic activity: Manufacturing 20%; Services 37%; Agriculture 43%; while the investor profile comprises: Government 49.3%; Foreign 9.9%; Indian 40.8%.

Government and Politics

Uttar Pradesh has a Governor and a bicameral Legislature. The State Assembly has 403 electoral constituencies. The Lower House is called Vidhan Sabha and the Upper House, Vidhan Parishad. The state has also a High Court at Allahabad with its bench in Lucknow.

To aid and advise the Governor in conduct of the business of the government, there is a Council of Ministers headed by the Chief Minister. The Uttar Pradesh Vidhan Sabha has a total of 404 members including one Anglo-Indian member who is nominated by the Governor. The Upper House or the Vidhan Parishad is a permanent House. Members are elected or nominated for six years and one-sixth of them retire every second year. It has 108 members, 12 of them are nominated by the Governor. Thirty-nine members are elected each by the Vidhan Sabha and Local bodies and nine each by the teachers and graduates.

Uttar Pradesh has the distinction of sending 80 MPs, who play a key role in formation of the government at the Centre.

In the Uttar Pradesh Elections, 2007, Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party achieved unexpected majority status. This is the first time, since 1991 victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a majority, that a single party has gained absolute majority; the last two decades having been mostly dominated by various coalitions among the Samajwadi Party, Bharatiya Janata Party, and the Bahujan Samaj Party.

After the split of Uttarakhand in 2000, numerous groups have proposed that the state of Uttar Pradesh be further split into smaller states. In November 2011, Chief Minister Mayawati announced to table the proposal to divide UP into four smaller states in the winter session of the state assembly starting November 21. Her cabinet approved the proposal, and thereafter the state assembly approved the proposal to split the state into four smaller states. The four parts will be Paschim Pradesh, Awadh Pradesh, Bundelkhand and Poorvanchal. The proposed new states are currently western UP, central UP, southwestern UP and eastern UP, respectively.