Chhattisgarh, state (2001 provisional pop. 20,795,956), 52,200 sq mi (135,194 sq km), central India; created from SE Madhya Pradesh in 2000. Most of Chhattisgarh lies in the valley of the Mahanadi and Sheonath rivers; its eastern section occupies the Deccan plateau, with hills in the west and the Maikal Mts. in the north. The capital is Raipur ; other cities include Bastar and Bhilainagar , which houses the state's largest steel plant. The population is more than two thirds rural and consists of various ethnic groups, almost 45% of whom are non-Hindu tribes. Agriculture employs some 80% of the workforce in the relatively undeveloped state, with rice by far the largest crop; others include various cereal grains and legumes. Covering almost a half of Chhattisgarh's area, dense forests yield timber and other wood products, although present development is not substantial. The state is rich in natural resources, with abundant deposits of gold, diamonds, coal, uranium, bauxite, corundum, dolomite, iron, copper, limestone, tin, and other minerals. Long a part of Madhya Pradesh state, but historically (traced back to the 4th cent. AD) and culturally distinct from it, the region had been a hotbed of separatist activity since the early 1920s. In recent years, Chhattisgarh has been the site of attacks and other activity by the Maoist Naxalite movement.
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