Brief Geographical account of Gujarat
Gujarat State is located between 20°N and 24°N along the Arabian Sea coast in western India. The State covers about 6% of the total area of India.
Topographically, Gujarat can be divided into four parts: (i) The Hilly regions of north, east and south. (ii) Saurashtra plateau made up of Deccan lava. Mt. Girnar is the highest hill of Gujarat, and the Gir forest is the only home of lion in Asia. (iii) Alluvial plains extending from Surat to a little beyond Ahmedabad, and (iv) arid coastal plains with the shallow Rann of Kutch.
The climate of Gujarat is of dry tropical monsoon type. Variation of rainfall from regions to regions is great. Rainfall at the extreme south-west is over 200 cm. It decreases north, westward Kutch receives less than 40 cm. Poor-scrub and grasses cover about 8% of the total area of the State.
More than 71% of the population of Gujarat depends upon agriculture, but only 54% of the total area of the State is cultivated. Food grain crops are grown is only 40% of the cultivated tracts. As rainfall is less than 100 cm. in most parts of the State, and only 16% cultivated land is irrigated, millet is the principal food grain followed by wheat and rice.
Groundnut, cotton and tobacco are the important cash crops. Gujarat stands first in the production of groundnut and cotton and contributed about a quarter of the total Indian Production. Cotton is grown as a rained kharif crop over black lava soil where rainfall varies between 60 and 100 cm.
Groundnut is grown as a kharif crop on light soil mainly in Kathaiwar where rainfall is about 50 to 75 cm.
Gujarat ranks second to Andhra Pradesh in tobacco production. It is concentrated in the alluvial soil of Kheda district. Castor, sesamum, vegetables, and fruits, grow well on a fertile goradu soil (partly loss) of the plains.
In Kutch, north-west Kathiawar and north Gujarat where rainfall is very little and uncertain for agriculture, goats, sheep and cattle are reared. At Anand (Kheda district) there is a modern dairy industry run on co-operative basis. Coastal fishing is not as important as the Gujaratis are mostly vegetarians.
Gujarat is fairly rich in minerals. Petroleum and natural gas are the most important. Gujarat contributes 45% of petroleum and 44 % of natural gas production in India. The oil and gas fields run in a belt between Ankleswar and Cambay. Crude from Ankleswar and Kalol Navagram oil field near Ahmedabad is carried through pipe lines to Koyali (near Baroda) for refining.
High grade bauxite is mined in Jamnagar chiefly for export. Feldsper occurs as Amba Dungar (Baroda District). It is the largest field in the world. Gujarat is the leading salt producing State of India. Salt is obtained by evaporation of sea-water along the Kutch Kathiawar coast. Some salt is sent to Dharangadhra, Mithapur, and Porbandar for the manufacture of caustic soda, soda ash and a few other chemicals.
Limestone is quarried at a number of places close to the southern coast of Saurastra. It is used in the manufacture of cement and building material. A beautiful building material, the yellow Porbandar stone is exported.
Gujarat has made great industrial progress during the last two decades. Now, besides the old textile industries, petrochemical, chemical, electronics, cement, paper, fertilizer, engineering industry have developed considerably. However, cotton textile is still the leading industry.
Ahmedabad with 72 textile mills out of 114 in the State is the premier cotton textile centre of India. Baroda, Prauch, Surat, Navasari, Khambhat, Kalol, Bhavnagar are the other centers. Engineering industry is developing fast in Ahmedabad Surandranagar, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, and Baroda.
Mithapur, Baroda, Dhrangadhra, Valsad, Porbandar, and Ahmedabad are important centers of chemical industry. Petrochemical industry has developed near Koyali refinery.
Gandhinagar near Ahmedabad is the new capital of Gujarat. Ahmedabad the old capital is the largest town. Surat, Baroda, Bharuch, Bhavanagar, Rajkot and Jamnagar are other important towns. Kandla and Okha are the chief ports of Gujarat.