MIDNAPUR, a district in the lieutenant-governorship of Bengal, India, between 21° 37' and 22° 57' N. lat., and between 86° 35' 45" and 88° 14' E. long., is bounded on the N. by Bankura and Bardwan, on the E. by Hooghly and Howrah, on the S. by the Bay of Bengal, and on the W. by Singbhfun and Manbham, with an area of 5082 square miles. Its general appearance is that of a large open plain, of which the greater part is under cultivation. In the northern portion the soil is poor, and there is little wood. The country along the western boundary, known as the Jungle Mahals, is undulating and picturesque ; it is almost uninhabited. The eastern and south-eastern portions are swampy and richly cultivated. The chief rivers of the district are the Hooghly and its three tributaries, the Ropnarayan, the Haldi, and the Rasulpur. The Midnapur high-level canal runs almost due east and west from the town of Midnapur to Ulubaria on the Hooghly 16 miles below Calcutta, and affords a continuous navigable channel 53 miles in length. There is also a tidal canal for navigation, 26 miles in length, extending from the Rapnarayan river. The jungles in the west of the district yield lac, tasar silk, wax, resin, firewood, charcoal, &c., and give shelter to large and small game.
The census of 1872 returned the population of Midnapur at 2,540,963 (1,257,194 males and 1,283,769 females), including only 122 Europeans and 157,030 Mohammedans. The aboriginal tribes belong chiefly to the jungles and hills of Clruthi Niigpur and Ban. kurti ; the most numerous of them are Santals (96,921) and Bhumijs (35,344). Of high-caste Hindus the returns show 136,500; and the number of Kayastlis is given as 101,663. Among the semi-Hindu ized aborigines, the most numerous are the Bagdis, a tribe of culti- vators, fishermen, and day-labourers (76,825). Belonging to agricultural castes there are 1,018,686. The four municipalities are Midnapur (31,491), Chandrakona (21,311), Ghatal (15,492), and Tamliik (5849). Rice is the staple crop. Irrigation is effected chiefly from the high-level canal. Rent rates vary from 101d. an acre for the poorest quality of rice land to 18s. an acre for the best irrigable lands. The district suffers occasionally from drought : floods are common, and very disastrous in their results. The principal exports are rice, silk, and sugar ; and the chief imports consist of cotton cloth and twist. Salt, indigo, silk, mats, and brass and copper utensils are manufactured. Apart from the rivers, communication is afforded by 482 miles of road. The total revenue in 1870-71 was £262,578, and the expenditure £53,777. The prevailing diseases are fever, diarrlicea, dysentery, and cholera. The average mean temperature is 80° Fahr., and the average annual rainfall 66 inches.
The early history of Midnapur centres round the ancient town of Tamhik, which in the beginning of the 5th century was an important Buddhist settlement and maritime harbour. The first connexion of the English with the district dates from 1760, when Mir Kiisim ceded to the East India Company Midnapur, Chittagong, and Bardwan (then estimated to furnish one-third of the entire revenue of Bengal) as the price of his elevation to the throne of Bengal on the deposition of Mir Jafar.