Noakhali, Or Noacolly
NOAKHALI, or NOACOLLY, a district in the lieutenant-governorship of Bengal, India, lying between 22° 22' and 23° 17' N. lat. and 90° 43' and 91° E. long, bounded on the N. by Tipperah, on the E. by Hill Tipperah state and Chittagong, on the S. by the Bay of Bengal, and on the W. by the main stream of the Meghni, with an area of 1611 square miles, consists of an alluvial tract of mainthick grove of betel and cocoa-nut palms, and in the northwestern tracts dense forests of betel-nut palms extend for miles. The district is very fertile ; and, with the exception of some sandbanks and recent accretions, every extending seawards. Wild animals and small game are numerous.
The population of the district was 820,772 in 1881, of whom 608,592 were Mohammedans. The district contains no town exceeding 5000 inhabitants. Sudbaram, the civil station, is little more than a large village, with a population (in 1872) of 4752. Rice forms the great staple of cultivation ; and rice, betel-nuts, and cocoa-nuts are exported. Noakhali is peculiarly liable to destructive floods from the sea, generally caused by southerly gales or cyclones occurring at the time when the Meghni is swollen by heavy rains, and at flood-tides, - the tidal bore being sometimes 20 feet high, and moving at the rate of 15 miles an hour. The cyclone and storm-wave of 31st October 1876 was terribly disastrous, sweeping over the whole delta of the Meghui. The loss of human life was estimated at 100,000.
The Mohammedan population of the islands at the mouth of the lleghni practised piracy up to a comparatively recent date, and at the beginning of the 17th century Portuguese pirates, under Sebastian Gonzales, occupied Sandwip. They were ultimately reduced to subjection by Shiista Khan, the governor of Bengal, about the middle of the century ; and their descendants have gradually sunk to the level of the natives surrounding them, whose dress, customs, and language they have, for the most part, adopted. They are Christians, and retain the old Portuguese names. About 1756 the East India Company established factories in Noakluili and Tipperah, the ruins of some of which still remain.