I. A district of the Carnatic, in the presidency of Madras, British India, divided into two collectorates, North and South Arcot, and lying between lat. 11° and 14° N. and lon. 78° and 80° E.; area, 12,459 sq. m., of which North Arcot contains 7,526, and South Arcot 4,933; pop. 2,638,174. The surface is low in the I eastern part, but rises into hills in the western. The principal rivers are the Palaur, the Punnair, and the Coleroon. The climate is exceedingly hot and dry, and in the summer the beds of many of the streams are bare. This has led to the construction of huge tanks or artificial lakes, of which there are many in North Arcot; one at Caverypauk is 8 m. long and 3 m. wide. The soil when well irrigated produces good crops, principally of grain and cotton. Arcot was ceded to the British in 1801, on condition that they should pay the claims of the creditors of its former ruler, Azim ul-Omrah, nabob of the Carnatic. The committee appointed to investigate these claims found them immense, and a large sum from the annual revenue of the district was set apart for their payment.
The finances of Arcot, especially under the maladministration of Hastings in India, while the province was partially conquered, but before its cession, had long before formed a subject of discussion in the English parliament, and concerning them Edmund Burke made one of his most famous speeches, Feb. 28, 1785.
II. The principal town and capital of the preceding district, on the S. bank of the Palaur, Go m. W. by S. of Madras; pop. about 60,000. It is surrounded by a wall; and the town itself is of comparatively modern construction, though a fortress, now partially destroyed, has existed for centuries. In 1751 Clive withstood here a remarkable siege of 50 days.