Mizo - Orientation



Identification. "Mizo," meaning "people of the high land, " is a generic term for the related peoples who speak the Duhlian dialect and live mainly in Mizoram, Manipur, and Tripura states of India. In the earliest literature they were called "Kuki" by the neighboring Bengalis. The British called them "Lushai." Since 1950 the word "Mizo" has been accepted by the people as more comprehensive than "Lushai"; the name of their area of concentration has changed from Lushai Hills to Mizoram, meaning "country of the Mizo."


Location. Mizoram lies between 24° and 22° N and 93° and 92° E. It is bounded by three Indian states—Manipur, Assam, and Tripura—and by the countries of Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh. Mizoram consists of a mass of hill ranges averaging from about 1,000 to 1,800 meters running from north and south, with a small plateau at Champai; most are covered by thin jungles. Rivers are hardly navigable. The climate of Mizoram has two seasons—the hot, rainy period from April to September and the cold, dry period from October to March.


Demography. According to the 1981 census the population of Mizoram was 493,757; the Scheduled Tribes constituted 93.55 percent of this number, which included Mizo, Lakher, Pawi, Chakma, Riang, and others. The Mizo are Currently about 80 percent of the population of Mizoram, but they are also found in neighboring states, for in the 1971 Census they numbered 512,833 in all of the northeastern states.


Linguistic Affiliation. The Mizo language belongs to the Tibeto-Burman Family of the Sino-Tibetan Branch; its Kuki-Chin Subgroup is comprised of the Meitei, Lushai, Thadou, Halem, and Chin subgroups. The Mizo have no script of their own. The Mizo alphabet was printed by Christian missionaries in 1898 in Roman script on the basis of phonetics.

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