Location and Extent: The State of Meghalaya is located between latitudes of 25°00' and 26°10’N and longitudes of 89°45’ and 92°47’E with an altitude ranging from 50-1961 above main sea level (msl) and covers 22.4 lakhs ha (22,429 Sq.kms). The State is bounded by Assam in the North, East and West and Bangladesh in the South and West.
Climate: The State is directly influenced by the South West monsoon and North Eastern winds. The region experiences tropical monsoon climate that varies from Western to Eastern part of the plateau. Garo Hills district has tropical climate characterized by high rainfall and humidity generally warm summer and moderately cold winter. Khasi and Jaintia Hills have high rainfall, moderately warm summer and severe winter with periodic depression below freezing point marked by appearance of ground frost at night and morning over higher elevated areas. The lower elevated areas experience fairly high temperature for most part of the year having a mean maximum of 23 to 26° and a mean minimum of 12 to 17° C. The mean summer temperature is 26°C and the mean winter temperature is 9° C. The mean annual rainfall varies from 2000-4000 mm with most rainfall concentrated from May to September.
Natural Vegetation: The State is rich in species of flora and varies from open scrub (Grassland) to pine forest in the central plateau region. The rest is covered by mostly deciduous to evergreen forests and transitional tropical moist deciduous pine forests.
Geology: The State of Meghalaya is occupied by: - (a) Archean Gneissic Complex with Acid intrusive (b) Shillong Group of Rocks (mostly Quartzite) usually friable, Schists, Conglomerates) (c) Granite rocks, (d) Lower Gondwana rocks (e) Sylhet Traps (f) Cretacious – tertiary sediments viz Khasi Group, (Jadugata and Mahadek formation), Garo Group (Simsang, Baghmara, Chengapara formation).These sediments consist of dominantly sandstone, limestone; silt stone, shale and pebbles, clays, conglomerates. The sedimentary rocks are in a complex form.
Soil: The climate, vegetation, relief and parent material constituting the ecosystem influence significantly the pedogenesis resulting in the development of different kinds of soils. The State is covered by the warm per-humid agro-ecoregion. However, it can be divided into two distinct sub eco-region (Zone) with thermic and hyperthermic temperature regimes.
- Soils of warm per humid agro-eco sub-region (zone) with thermic temperature regimes
- Soils of warm per-humid agro-eco region (zone) with hyperthermic temperature regime
Physiography & Relief: The plateau stands as a watershed between the Surma Valley of Bangladesh on the South and the Brahmaputra Valley on the North. Several rivers and a network of their tributaries and lateral streams dissect the plateau. The state can, broadly, be divided into three physiographic zones (i) the Central Plateau Region between 900-2000 m (ii) Sub-montane region in continuation with the Central Plateau below 900 m which gradually merges with the plains in the West and North and (iii) Border region which stretches south-wards abruptly from the Central Plateau to the plains in Bangladesh.
Drainage Pattern: The drainage pattern of the State represents a most spectacular feature revealing extraordinary straight courses of the rivers and streams evidently along the joints and faults. The magnificent gorges scooped out by the rivers in the southern Khasi and Jaintia Hills are the result of massive headward erosion by antecedent streams along joints of the sedimentary rocks over the block, experiences relatively great uplift. Westward in the Garo Hills, the consequent streams are mostly controlled by the structures, faults and monoclines in the sedimentary rock. The northern part of the plateau devoid of any sedimentary cover is marked by long incisive valley formed due to head ward erosion along joints in the gneissic rocks and granites. The limestone-covered country over southern Garo, Khasi and Jaintia Hills represent typical karst topography. The present physiographic configuration of the plateau was attained through different geological events since Melozonic to present day as indicated by polycyclic surface at various levels.
Eight main rivers in the north and five main rivers in the south drain the State. Rivers of north and south are tributaries of Brahmaputra and Meghna respectively.
Land Use Pattern: Agriculture is the mainstay of the people of the State. About 85 percent of the population of the State live in rural areas and depends on agriculture for their livelihood. Of the total geographical area, about 13 percent is under cultivation. Efforts are being made to increase irrigation potential of the State and bring more area under cultivation It is in the primitive stage of shifting cultivation in major parts of the State. Shifting Cultivation locally named as ‘Jhumming’ is practiced extensively on the hill-slopes in the Garo Hills and part of the Khasi and Jaintia Hills Districts.
The soil and climatic condition of the State is suitable for growing different types of agricultural crops from cereals to fruits in both tropical and temperate climatic environment occurring on different altitudes.