MEGHALAYA means "Abode of the Clouds," which is an appropriate name for one of the wettest regions on Earth. Cherrapunji, near the border with Bangladesh, receives an average rainfall of 11,430 millimeters (450 inches) each year—the second highest in the world. The town has recorded rainfalls of more than 20,000 millimeters (787 inches) in one year. Severe earthquakes are not uncommon.
About one-third of Meghalaya is covered in dense forest. It is home to an abundance of wildlife such as tigers, elephants, leopards, wild pigs, wolves, deer, snakes, peacocks, hornbills, and mynahs. The state has two national parks. Shillong, a popular hill station, is the capital of Meghalaya. The majority of the state’s people depend on agriculture for their living, and shifting cultivation is commonly practiced. Oranges and potatoes are grown as cash crops, and rice, maize, and vegetables are the main food crops. Meghalaya has rich mineral deposits, including mica, coal, and gypsum, which have only been minimally exploited. The state produces 95 per cent of India's sillimanite. Forest products include timber, bamboo, reed, cane, and medicinal herbs and plants.
The Khasi, Garo, and Jaintia hill tribes, the chief ethnic groups, each had their own kingdoms until the British annexed them in the 19th century. Meghalaya was an autonomous state within Assam State until 1972, when it became a full state of the Indian Union.