UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Nagaland - People

The total population of Nagaland as per 2001 Census is 19.88 lakh, of which males form 10.42 lakh and females 9.47 lakh. Among the various districts, Tuensang has the largest population (4.14 lakh), followed by Kohima (3.14 lakh). The least populated district is Phek (1.48 lakh). Nagaland witnessed the highest growth rate in population over the last decade.

The literacy rate, which was 20.4 percent in 1961, increased to 42.57 percent in 1981, and further increased to 67.11 percent in 2001. A positive element here is the increase in the female literacy level, which was 13 percent in 1961 but steadily increased to 39.9 percent in 1981 and to 61.92 percent in 2001.

The population of Nagaland is entirely tribal. The Nagas belong to the Indo-Mongoloid family. The fourteen major Naga tribes are the Angami, Ao, Chakhesang, Chang, Khemungan, Konyak, Lotha, Phom, Pochury, Rengma, Sangtam, Sema, Yimchunger and Zeliang. The Chakhesangs were earlier known as Eastern Angamis and are a combination of the Chakri, Khezha and Sangtam sub-tribes. Now the Chakhesang tribe is spilt further; Pochury's who were earlier a part of it now claim a distinct entity. Each tribe has their own languages and cultural features. Literacy is 61.30 %. The population has shown a steady upward trend.

Nagaland is called so, because the people residing there are called Nagas. Its population is widely diverse, and has 16 tribes living in the state. The mostly Christian population of Nagaland draws its culture from many other neighboring regions. The state of Nagaland is one of the least populated states of India, and ranks 25th population wise, owing to its population of less than 20 lacs. The population of Nagaland is spread over an area of over 15000 kilometer square, with a population density of just over 100 in one kilometer square of area, as shown by the Nagaland census 2011. What really sets the state apart from others in India is the growth rate of population in Nagaland. Where, many other states have fallen prey to the population explosion, Nagaland has not only reduced the previous growth rate of above 60%, but it has also brought it to less than zero. This negative growth rate has greatly helped control the population in Nagaland. The growth rate is still above 60 in the urban areas, and far too less in the rural areas.

The gender ratio in Nagaland's population however is the least as compared to other north-eastern states. The sex ratio is greater in the rural population as compared to urban. Literacy in Nagaland has undergone an extremely positive improvement in the last decade. From the initial literacy of only 60%, it has risen to about 80% according to census 2011. Urban population is less as compared to the rural. The state has only one airport in its biggest city, Dimapur. The state capital of Nagaland is Kohima. It is one of the few states in India to have English as its official language. Due to the variation in its culture, about 20 languages are spoken in the state, Nagamese being the widely used one.

The hill tribes in the areas now known as Nagaland had no generic term applicable to the whole people. The word 'Naga' was given to these hill tribes by the plains people. This proved to be a great unifying force to the tribes now classified as Naga. Nagas are of sub-medium height, the facial index is very low, the nasal index corresponds to a medium nose, the hair is generally straight, the skin is brownish yellow. The eyes significantly do not show Mongolian form.

It could broadly be said that they are straight forward people, honest, hardworking, sturdy and with a high standard of integrity. They are lacking in humility and are inclined to equate a kind and sympathetic approach with weakness. The Nagas have a very strong sense of self respect and would not submit to anyone riding roughshod over their sentiments. The Angamis are politically the most conscious group. The Zeliang and Pochury tribes in Kohima district are comparatively simple and unsophisticated. The Tuensang tribes are un-spoilt children of nature. A striking characteristic of the Naga tribes is their hospitality and cheerfulness. To be greeted with a smiling face while traveling on the roads is a common experience. A visitor to Naga village is heartily received and entertained with a surfeit of rice-beer, which is generally served by the lady of the house or her young daughter with a warmth which is unforgettable.

The State consists of eleven Administrative Districts, inhabited by 16 major tribes along with other sub-tribes. Each tribe is distinct in character from the other in terms of customs, language and dress. It is a land of folklore passed down the generations through word of mouth. Here, music is an integral part of life; folk songs eulogizing ancestors, the brave deeds of warriors and traditional heroes; poetic love songs immortalizing ancient tragic love stories; Gospel songs that touch your soul (should you have a religious bend of mind) or the modern tunes rendered exquisitely to set feet a-tapping. Each of the 16 odd tribes and sub-tribes that dwell in this exotic hill State can easily be distinguished by the colorful and intricately designed costumes, jewellery and beads that they adorn. The present generations of Nagas have ventured into fashion designing in a big way, reproducing fabrics that represent the ancestral motifs blended with modern appeal. Indeed, it is a beautiful mix of the past with the present, a paradise for those who are into fashion designing. This is an affluent fashion station of the East.

Its people belong to the Indo-Mongoloid stock, whose ancestors lived off nature's abundant gifts, blessed with sturdy formidable dispositions. Above all, the people here are warmhearted and extremely hospitable.

Nagaland has a rich linguistic tradition with as many languages as there are tribes, each exclusive to itself. What is even more remarkable is that even within the language of a particular tribe, there are dialects mutually unintelligible. For instance, in some tribes like the Angami, every village has a slightly different variation even within the same dialect-this variance progressively increasing with the geographical distance. This makes inter-tribe and intra-tribe communication very difficult. In these circumstances, English has come to serve as the State language while Nagamese, a kind of pidgin Assamese, has become the common lingua. The languages of numerically dominantAo, Serna, Konyak and Angami Naga tribes are the major Naga languages spoken in the State. None of the Naga languages has a script of its own. Hindi, Bengali, Nepali and Assamese are the major scheduled languages.

All the tribes celebrate their distinct seasonal festivals with a pageantry of color and a feast of music. All the tribes have their own festivals which they hold dear. They regard their festivals sacrosanct and participation in celebration is compulsory. They celebrate their distinct seasonal festivals with a pageantry of colour and a feast of music.

Most of these festivals revolve round agriculture, it being the main-stay of Naga society. Over 85% population of Nagaland is directly dependent on agriculture and lives in a thousand and odd villages situated on high hill tops or slopes overlooking verdant valleys humming with murmuring streams. In this blissful setting Nagas enjoy the blessing of Nature with rare gusto striking the onlookers with awe and admiration. In most of the places agriculture consists of monocrop.

Although some religious and spiritual sentiments are interwoven into secular rites and rituals, the pre- dominant theme of the festivals is offering of prayers to a Supreme Being having different names in different Naga dialects. At these festivals, the spirit of Gods is propitiated with sacrifices by the Village Shaman for a bountiful harvest either before the sowing or on the eve of harvest.

The State is replete with festivities throughout the year, as all tribes celebrate their own festivals with a pageantry of colour, music and dance. A common feature is that the festivals revolve around agriculture, the mainstay of Naga economy. These festivals hark back to times prior to the advent of Christianity.

Although most of the Nagas have now become Christians, they still preserve the remnants of their early animist culture and ancient traditions. Historically, the Nagas have always been brave warriors. They consider the safety and security of their guests as an honour and prestige and will never allow any harm to be done to any of their guests/visitors.

Despite challenges such as insurgency and conflict, the indicators for health in Nagaland are impressive. The life expectancy at birth has been calculated at 73.4 years, way above the national average of 62.3 years, and much closer to the figures in developed countries. Infant mortality rate (IMR) at 42.2 per 1000 is also much better than the national average of 68 per 1000 live births. . The last decadal growth rate (19912001) at 64.4 percent, for instance, is the highest in the country, and 1015 times higher than in developed countries. This poses a great demographic challenge for planners and policy makers in the State.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 19-02-2018 14:42:33 ZULU