Manipur was a union territory from 1949 until 1972, when it became one of the smallest of India's states. Manipur was one of the headquarters for the Indian National Army, and the Indian national flag was first hoisted there in 1944. The state remains proud of its distinct identity.

            Geographically, Manipur is divided into hills that surround a central plain—the valley of the Manipur River. The valley is the most densely populated area of Manipur. The hills are cloaked with dense forests, which contain large stands of teak and bamboo, as well as oak, magnolia, and pine trees.

            Imphal, the capital of Manipur, is one of the oldest state capitals of India. More than 60 percent of Manipur's population belongs to the Meithei ethnic group. They are predominantly Vaishnavite Hindus and live in the central valley. Manipuri and English are the official languages. The indigenous dance style, which is highly decorative and graceful, is one of the six major forms of Indian classical dance.

            Agriculture and forestry dominate the economy. Rice is the principal crop; maize, sugarcane, pulses, and tropical and temperate fruits are also grown. Forest products include teak, bamboo, and pine. There is little modern industrial development, but cottage industries such as weaving flourish.