|States and territories|
|Most populous cities (2011)|
|• Total||443,443 km2 (171,214 sq mi)|
|• Density||230/km2 (590/sq mi)|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
Central India is a loosely defined region of India consisting of the states of Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. Indore, the commercial capital of Madhya Pradesh is the largest city in the region. Other major cities include Bhopal and Raipur. The states share many linguistic and cultural characteristics with the Northern Region including the predominance of Hindi. The states of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have been grouped along with the states of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand as the Central Zonal Council for cooperation.
The Bhimbetka caves show evidence of paleolithic settlements in present-day Madhya Pradesh. Stone age tools have also been discovered at various places along the Narmada river valley. Chalcolithic sites have been discovered at a number of places including Eran, Kayatha, Maheshwar, Nagda, and Navdatoli. Rock shelters with cave paintings, the earliest of which can be dated to 30,000 BCE, have also been discovered at a number of places. The settlements of humans in present-day Madhya Pradesh developed primarily in the valleys of rivers such as Narmada, Chambal, and Betwa. During the early Vedic period, the Vindhya mountains formed the southern boundary of the Indo-Aryan territory.
The Holkars, a powerful family of the Maratha Empire were based out of Indore. Later, the territory that now comprises Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh were ruled by numerous princes who entered into subsidiary alliance with the British.
The region is part of the Hindi belt, and Modern Standard Hindi is the predominant language. Other Hindi belt languages such as Chhattisgarhi are also common regionally. Besides these Indo-Aryan languages, the Munda-family language Korku is also spoken in Central India.
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