Tripura is a state in North East India. The third-smallest state in the country, it covers and is bordered by Bangladesh to the north, south, and west; the Indian states of Assam and Mizoram lie to its east. Five mountain ranges run north to south, with intervening valleys, while to the west Agartala, the capital, is located on a plain. The state has a tropical savanna climate, with seasonal heavy rains from the south west monsoon. Forests cover more than half of the area, in which Bamboo and cane forests are common. Tripura has the highest number of primate species found in any Indian state.
The area of modern Tripura was part of an independent Tripuri kingdom that ruled for several centuries. It was a princely state during British rule, and joined the newly-independent India in 1949. Ethnic strife between the indigenous people and Bengali population has led to tension and scattered violence since its integration into the country, but the establishment of an autonomous tribal administrative agency and other strategies have soothed such conflicts. The state is peaceful as of 2012.
Tripura lies in a geographically disadvantageous location in India, as only one major highway connects it with the rest of the country. This hinders the economic prospects of the state. Poverty and unemployment continue to plague Tripura, which has a limited infrastructure. Most residents are involved in agriculture and allied activities, although the service sector is the largest contributor to the state's gross domestic product.
Indigenous communities, known in India as Scheduled tribes, constitute about 30 per cent of the population. The Kokborok-speaking Tripuri people form the major group among 19 tribes and many other subtribes; Bengali people form the ethno-linguistic majority. Mainstream Indian cultural elements, especially from Bengali culture, coexist with traditional practices of the ethnic groups, such as various dances to celebrate religious occasions, weddings and festivities; the worship of regional deities; and the use of locally-crafted musical instruments.
Although there is not enough evidence of a Paleolithic phase in Tripura, Upper Paleolithic tools made of fossil wood have been found in the Haora and Khowai valleys. The Indian epic, the Mahabharata; ancient religious texts, the Puranas; and the Edicts of Ashoka, stone pillar inscriptions of the emperor Ashoka dating from the third century BCE—all mention Tripura. An ancient name of Tripura is Kirat Desh (English: "The land of Kirat"), probably referring to the Kirata Kingdoms or the more generic term Kirata; however, it remains undecided if the extent of modern Tripura is coterminous with Kirat Desh. The Twipra Kingdom ruled the region for centuries, but the start of the kingdom is not documented. The Rajmala, a chronicle of Tripuri kings which was first penned in the 15th century, provides a list of 179 kings, from antiquity up to Krishna Kishore Manikya (1830–1850), although the reliability of the Rajmala has been doubted.
The boundaries of the kingdom changed over the centuries. At various points in time, the borders reached south to the jungles of the Sundarbans, on the Bay of Bengal; east to Burma; and north to the boundary of the Kamarupa kingdom in Assam. A reliable history of the kingdom, or the residents of Tripura, is missing due to the lack of any documentation or other form of evidence. There were several Muslim invasions of the region from the 13th century onwards, which finally culminated in Mughal dominance of the plains in 1733, although their rule never extended to the hill regions. The Mughals did, however, influence the appointment of the Tripuri kings. Tripura became a princely state during British rule in India. The kings had an estate in British India, known as Tippera district or Chakla Roshnabad, now the Comilla district of Bangladesh, in addition to the independent area known as Hill Tippera, the present-day state. Udaipur, in the south of Tripura, was the capital of the kingdom, until Krishna Manikya moved the capital to Old Agartala in the 18th century. It was subsequently moved to the new city of Agartala in the 19th century. Bir Chandra Manikya (1862–1896) modelled his administration on the pattern of British India, and enacted various reforms including the formation of Agartala Municipal Corporation.
Following the independence of India in 1947, Tippera district—the estate in the plains of British India—became a part of East Pakistan, and Hill Tippera remained under a regency council until 1949. The Maharani Regent of Tripura signed the Tripura Merger Agreement on 9 September 1949, as a result of which Tripura became a Part C state of India. It became a Union Territory, without a legislature, in November 1956 and an elected ministry was installed in July 1963. Tripura was heavily affected by the geographic partition that coincided with the independence of India. The majority of the population now comprises Bengalis, many of whom arrived as refugees from East Pakistan following partition. The partition of India also resulted in major economic and infrastructural setbacks for the state, as road transport between the state and the major cities of India had to follow a more circuitous route. The road distance between Kolkata and Agartala prior to partition was less than , which increased to , as the route now avoided East Pakistan. The geo-political isolation was aggravated by an absence of rail transport.
Some parts of the state were shelled by the Pakistan Army during Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. Following the war, the Indian government reorganised the north east region to ensure effective control of the international borders—three new states came into existence on 21 January 1972, with Meghalaya, Manipur and Tripura attaining statehood. Migration of, and settlement by, Hindu Bengalis increased at the time of the Bangladesh Liberation War. Prior to India's independence, the majority of the population were indigenous; now they became minority. Ethnic strife between the tribes and the predominantly immigrant Bengali community led to scattered violence, and an insurgency spanning decades. This gradually abated following the establishment of a tribal autonomous district council and the use of strategic counter-insurgency operations, aided by the overall socio-economic progress of the state. Tripura remains peaceful, as of 2012.