Puducherry (pōˌdŭchĕˈrē) [key], formerly Pondicherry pŏndĭchĕˈrē, –shĕˈrē or Pondichéry pôNdēshārēˈ, union territory (2001 provisional pop. 973,829), 183 sq mi (474 sq km), India. It comprises the noncontiguous enclaves of former French India: Puducherry (formerly Pondicherry or Pondichéry) and Karaikal (formerly Karikal) on the Coromandel Coast in Tamil Nadu state, Yanam (formerly Yanaon) in Andhra Pradesh state, and Mahe (formerly Mahé) on the Malabar Coast of Kerala state. The capital of the territory is Puducherry town (1991 pop. 401,437) in the Puducherry enclave.
The four enclaves and Chandannagar, a town near Kolkata (Calcutta), were remnants of French imperial ambition in India in the 17th and 18th cent. In 1949, Chandannagar was incorporated into West Bengal state. Under an agreement with France, India took over administration of the four enclaves on Nov. 1, 1954; a treaty ceding the settlements to India was signed in May, 1956, but it was not until Aug., 1962, that the formal transfer occurred. Despite some agitation to merge the enclaves with the states surrounding them, the territory remains under the administration of the central government of India. The enclaves on the Indian Ocean suffered destruction and loss of life from the Dec., 2004, tsunami. The territory was renamed from the colonial Pondicherry to the native Tamil Puducherry in 2006.
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