plains, high plateaus, fertile bottoms and rocky wastes, and is rendered picturesque by rivers and groves.
Natural Features.—The provinces may be divided into two tracts of upland and three of plain, consisting of the Vindhya and Satpura plateaus, and the Berar, Nagpur and Chhattisgarh plains. To the north the districts of Saugor and Damoh form the southern boundary of the Vindhyan escarpment. In this region the sandstone rocks are generally overlaid with heavy black soil formed from the decaying trap, which is principally devoted to the cultivation of the spring crops, wheat and grain, while rice and hill millets are sown in the lighter and more sandy soils. Next, the long and narrow valley of the Nerbudda from Jubbulpore to Hoshangabad is formed of deep alluvial deposits of extreme richness and excellently suited to the growth of wheat. To the south of the Nerbudda the Satpura range stretches across the province, containing the greater part of five districts, its crystalline and sandstone rocks rising in places through the superficial stratum of trap, and with large areas of shallow stony land still covered to a great extent with forest interspersed by black-soil valleys of great fertility. In the latter are grown wheat and other spring crops, while the lighter kinds of rice and the hill millets are all that the poorer land can bear. To the south of the Satpuras and extending along its base from west to east lie successively the Berar, Nagpur and Chhattisgarh plains. The surface soil of Berar is to a great extent a rich black vegetable mould; and where this surface soil does not exist, there are muram and trap with a shallow upper crust of inferior light soil. The Nagpur country, drained by the Wardha and Wainganga rivers, contains towards the west the shallow black soil in which autumn crops like cotton and the large millet, juar, which do not require excessive moisture, can be successfully cultivated. The eastern part of the Nagpur country and the Chhattisgarh plain, comprising the Mahanadi basin, form the great rice tract of the province, its heavy rainfall and hard yellowish soil rendering it excellently adapted for the growth of this crop.
Climate.—As regards climate the districts of the Central Provinces are generally divided into hot and cool ones. In the latter division are comprised the two Vindhyan districts of Saugor and Damoh, Jubbulpore at the head of the Nerbudda valley, and the four Satpura districts of Mandla, Seoni, Betul and Chhindwara, which enjoy, owing to their greater elevation, a distinctly lower average temperature than the rest of the province. The ordinary variation is from 3 to 4 degrees, the mean maximum reading in the shade in a cooler district being about 105° as against 108° in the hotter ones for the month of May, and 79° as against 83° for the month of December. In the cold weather the temperature in Nagpur and the other hot districts is about the same as in Calcutta and substantially higher than that of northern India. The climate of Berar differs very little from that of the Deccan generally, except that in the Payanghat valley the hot weather may be exceptionally severe. The rainfall of the province is considerably heavier than in northern India, and the result of this is a cooler and more pleasant atmosphere during the monsoon season. The average rainfall, before it was affected by the abnormal seasons which followed 1892, was 51 in., varying from 33 in. in Nimar to 65 in Balaghat. In the autumn months malarial fever is prevalent in all thickly forested tracts and also in the rice country; but on the whole the province is considered to be healthy, and as the rains break fairly regularly in June and produce an immediate fall in the temperature, severe heat is only experienced for a period of from two to three months.
Agriculture.—Broadly speaking, the northern districts of the province produce principally cold weather crops, such as wheat and grain, and the eastern ones principally rice. At the beginning of the decade 1891–1901 wheat was the staple product of the Vindhyan and Nerbudda valley districts, and was also grown extensively in all the Satpura districts except Nimar and in Wardha and Nagpur. Cotton and juar were produced principally in Nimar, Nagpur, Wardha and the southern portion of Chhindwara, and the latter also in Chanda. In the Satpura districts the inferior soil was and is principally devoted to hill millets. Rice is an important crop in Damoh, Jubbulpore, Mandla, Seoni and Chanda, and is the chief staple of Bhandara, Balaghat, and the two eastern districts of Raipur and Bilaspur. The staple crops of Berar are cotton and juar. The succession of bad seasons which marked the end of the decade affected the distribution of the principal crops, but with the advent of more prosperous seasons things tend to return to their old level.
Industries.—The only important industries are connected with cotton and coal. In 1904 the total number of factories was 391, almost entirely cotton presses and ginning factories, which received an immense impetus from the rise in cotton prices. In 1896 a brewery was established at Jubbulpore. Two coal-mines are worked in the Central Provinces, at Warora and Mopani, to each of which there is a branch line of railway. In 1903–1904 there was a total yield of 160,000 tons, valued at about £45,000. In connexion with the Warora colliery there is a fire-clay business. The Mopani colliery, which dates back to 1860, is worked by a joint-stock company.
Trade.—The trade of the Central Provinces is conducted mainly by rail with Bombay and with Calcutta. The chief imports are cotton piece goods, cotton twist, salt, sugar, provisions, railway materials, raw cotton, metals, coal, tobacco, spices and kerosene oil. The chief exports are raw cotton, rice, wheat, oil-seeds, hides and lac. The exports of wheat are liable to extreme fluctuations, especially during famine periods.
Railways.—Until recently, the only railway in the Central Provinces was the Great Indian Peninsula, with two branches, one terminating at Nagpur, the other at Jubbulpore, whence it was continued by the East Indian system to Allahabad. The Bengal-Nagpur line has now opened up the eastern portion of the country, bringing it into direct connexion with Calcutta; and a new branch of the Indian Midland, from Saugor through Damoh, has been partly constructed as a famine work. Large portions, however, in the hilly centre and in the south-east, are still remote from railways.
Administration.—The administration of the province is conducted by a chief commissioner on behalf of the governor-general of India in council, assisted by members of the Indian civil service, provincial civil service, subordinate civil service, district and assistant superintendents of police, and officers specially recruited for various departments. The form of the administration of Berar was in 1903 entirely reorganized. Under the original settlement concluded by the treaties of 1853 and 1860 the revenues of the province were assigned primarily for the maintenance of the Hyderabad contingent, such surplus as accrued from year to year being made over to the nizam, while the province itself was administered in trust by the government of India through the resident at Hyderabad. In November 1902 a fresh settlement was arranged and Berar was leased in perpetuity to the British government in return for an annual rental of 25 lakhs. It remained under the administration of the resident until the 1st of October 1903, from which date it was amalgamated with the Central Provinces for administrative purposes. As the immediate result of this change the offices of heads of departments in Berar, except the judicial commissionership and the conservatorship of forests, were amalgamated with the corresponding appointments in the Central Provinces, and Berar is now treated as one of the divisions of that province for purposes of revenue administration, with a divisional commissioner as its immediate head.
Population.—The population of the Central Provinces and Berar as now defined according to the census of 1901 was 10,847,325, and is of very diverse ethical construction, having been recruited by immigration from the countries surrounding it on all sides. There are six main divisions of the people: the Dravidian tribes, who formerly held the country; Hindi-speaking immigrants from the north and north-west into Saugor, Damoh, the Nerbudda valley and the open country of Mandla and Seoni; Rajasthani-speaking immigrants from Central India into Nimar, Betul and parts of Hoshangabad, Narsinghpur and Chhindwara; Marathi-speaking immigrants from Bombay into Berar, the Mahratta districts and the southern tahsil of Betul; the Telugu castes in the Sironcha and Chanda tahsil of Chanda and the south of Bastar; and the Hindu immigrants into Chhattisgarh, who are supposed to have arrived many centuries ago when the Haihaya dynasty of Ratanpur rose into power.
Language.—Owing to the diversity of race, the diversity of language is equally great. Thirty languages and a hundred and six dialects are found in the Central Provinces alone, and twenty-eight languages and sixty-eight dialects in Berar. The chief of these languages are Western Hindi, Eastern Hindi, Rajasthani, Marathi, Oriya, Telugu and Dravidian dialects. Of these last the chief dialects are Gondi, Oraon or Kurukh, Kandhi and Kanarese, of which Gondi is by far the most important. There are also the Munda languages, of which the chief are Korku, Kharia and Munda or Kol. The chief languages of Berar are Marathi, Urdu, Gondi, Banjari, Hindi, Marwari, Telugu, Korku and Gujarati.
History.—The authentic history of the greater part of the country embraced in the Central Provinces does not begin till the 16th century A.D. By the people of northern India the country was known as Gondwana, after the savage tribes of Gonds by whom it was inhabited. The Mussulman invaders of the Deccan passed it by, not caring to enter its mountain fastnesses and impenetrable forests; though occasional inscriptions show that parts of it had fallen from time to time under the dominion of one or other of the great kingdoms of the north, e.g. of Asoka, of the Guptas of Maghada, or of the ancient Hindu kingdom of Vidarbha (Berar); and inscriptions and numerous discoveries of coins prove that, during the middle ages, the open spaces were occupied by a series of Rajput dynasties. Of these the most important was that of the Haihayas of Ratanpur, a family which, settled from time immemorial in the Nerbudda valley, had towards the close of the 10th century succeeded the Pandava dynasty of Maha Kosala (Chhattisgarh) and ruled, though from the 16th century onwards over greatly diminished territories, until its overthrow by the Mahrattas in 1745. The second ruler of this dynasty, Ratnaraja, was the founder of Ratanpur.
The inscriptional records cease abruptly in the 12th century, and no more is known of the country until the rise of the Gond