Madhya Pradesh literally “Central Province is a state in central India. Its capital is Bhopal, and the largest city is Indore. Nicknamed the “heart of India” due to its geographical location in India, Madhya Pradesh is the second largest state in the country by area. With over 75 million inhabitants, it is the sixth largest state in India by population. It borders the states of Uttar Pradesh to the northeast, Chhattisgarh to the southeast, Maharashtra to the south, Gujarat to the west, and Rajasthan to the northwest.
The area covered by the present-day Madhya Pradesh includes the area of the ancient Avanti mahajanapada, whose capital Ujjain (also known as Avanti) arose as a major city during the second wave of Indian urbanisation in the sixth century BCE. Subsequently, the region was ruled by the major dynasties of India, including the Mauryans, Gupta Empire, Harshavardhana, then Rajput kings of Paramara, Chandelas, Bundela, Tomaras, subsequently by the Mughals and later by the Marathas. By the early 18th century, the region was divided into several small kingdoms which were captured by the British and incorporated into Central Provinces and Berar and the Central India Agency. After India’s independence, Madhya Pradesh state was created with Nagpur as its capital: this state included the southern parts of the present-day Madhya Pradesh and north-eastern portion of today’s Maharashtra. In 1956, this state was reorganised and its parts were combined with the states of Madhya Bharat, Vindhya Pradesh and Bhopal to form the new Madhya Pradesh state with Bhopal as its capital; the Marathi-speaking Vidarbha region was removed and merged with the then Bombay State. This state was the largest in India by area until 2000, when its southeastern Chhattisgarh region was made a separate state.
Madhya Pradesh is home to a large tribal population, who have been largely cut off from the mainstream development. This makes Madhya Pradesh one of the least developed states in India, with an HDI (Human Development Index) value of 0.375 (2011), which is well below the national average. The state’s per-capita gross state domestic product (nominal GDP) is the fourth lowest in the country (2010–11). MP is also the lowest-ranked state on the India State Hunger Index. In recent years, the state’s GDP growth has been above the national average. Rich in mineral resources, MP has the largest reserves of diamond and copper in India. More than 30% of its area is under the forest cover. Its tourism industry has seen considerable growth, with the state topping the National Tourism Awards in the year 2010–11.