The history of Orissa has a place of distinction in the Indian folklore. The famous Battle of Kalinga was fought near the city of Bhubaneswar in 260 BC. The battle transformed Emperor Ashoka into a philanthropist and patronizer of the Buddhist faith. Many battles took place during this time period, and the next rulers of the Orissan area were the Kesari, a Hindu people, and then the Ganga. Then in the 16th century the Mughals brought Orissa in its empire followed by the Marathas. The British rule entered the political scene and took control of the state in 1803 with the rest of India. Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism flourished in Orissa.
As of 1991, the time that the last recorded census was taken, there were approximately 31, 660, 000 people living in the state of Orissa. Fewer than 14% of all citizens of Orissa live in cities. This number illustrates the great number of people who live in the country and work on farms. The ratio of males to females is about 1: 9.7. About one half of all the people living in Orissa can read, a high number for a relatively rural state. The most common language spoken in Orissa is Oriya. The average individual income, annually, is 3,963 Rupees.
Over 76% of the people are dependent on agriculture. Out of the gross cropped area of 87.46 lakh hectares are 87.79 lakh hectares are irrigated. Rice, pulses, oil-seeds, jute, mesta, sugarcane, coconut and turmeric are important crops. The state contributes one-tenth of the rice production in India.
The Central Sector Projects are: Steel Plant at Rourkela, SAND Complex at Chhatrapur, Heavy Water Project at Talcher, Coach Repairing Workshop at Mancheswar, Aluminium Complex at Koraput, Captive Power Plant at Angul, Aluminium Smelter at Angul and Fertilizer Plant at Paradip. Major thermal and hydel power stations are Talcher, Hirakud, and Chiplima. Major rhermal and hydel power stations are Talcher, Hirakud and Chiplima. Other power projects are Upper Indravati, Upper Kolab, Rengali and Ib.
Industry also plays a key role in the economy. Products manufactured in Orissa include textiles, paper, leather goods, cement, soap, glass, aluminum, and flour. Some of the natural resources that are mined are iron, coal, and zinc. Orissa has trade relations with other states of India, the United States, Japan, Britain, and Germany.
There are many products that are shipped in and out of Orissa annually. The main exports are expensive gems, fish, fancy jewelry, baskets, and clothing. Orissa is known world-wide for its fine cloths and the painstaking effort with which they are made. Orissa also imports many things. The chief imports are machinery, steel, and fuel.
Places of interest are: Lingaraja Temple,Mukteswar Temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple and Rajarani Temple, the Jain and Buddhist rock-cut caves of Khandagiri, Udayagiri and Dhauli together with Ashoka’s edict.