Madras Presidency, one of the administrative divisions of India, occupies the southern part of the peninsula It extends from lat. 20" 18' on the east coast and lat. 14° on the west coast to Cape Comorin in lat. 8° 4'. The total area, excluding native states, is 141,189 sq. m. ; and the pop. in 1901 was 38,209,436. (The native states have an area of 10,000 sq. m., and a pop. of 4,188,000.) Of these about 2 1/2 millions are Mohammedans, and 1,030,000 Christians. The principal mountains belong to the Eastern and Western Ghats. The former have an average height of 1500 feet, but rise in parts to 3000 or 4000 feet; the latter have a greater average height, with a number of peaks rising from 5000 to 8000 feet, and a few even higher. A central tableland includes the native states of Mysore and the Deccan, rising to a height of from 1000 to 3000 feet. A very notable geographical feature is the Palghat Gap in the Western Ghats, 25 miles wide, and only 1000 feet above sea-level. Through it passed the old trade-route between the west and east coast, now superseded by a railway, and through it the south-west monsoon blows strongly, bringing rain to a considerable area lying east of it. The Neilgherry (Nilgiri) Hills, on which at Ootaca-mund is the summer seat of the government, may be looked on as the junction of the Eastern and Western Ghats. The chief rivers, the Godavari, Kistna, and Kaveri, all rise in the Western Ghats, and cross the peninsula SE. to the Bay of Bengal. Very extensive irrigation-works have been carried out. Railway communication is extensive ; and there are good roads in most parts of the presidency. The climate differs greatly in different parts. Rice is the chief crop. Cotton is grown in the drier parts, and tobacco of excellent quality is produced. Trichinopoly cigars and cheroots are increasingly exported. On the hills tea, coffee, and cinchona are cultivated. The manufacturing industry is represented by cotton, sugar, gunny bags, paper, ice, and tiles. Madras is not rich in minerals ; gold is found in many parts; excellent iron abounds; but the want of fuel prevents any great development of the iron industry. Diamonds have been largely found, chiefly in the Karnul district. The forests are now protected by the state, and are of great value, especially the teak forests.
The first English settlement was made at Masulipatam in 1611; in 1616 on the west coast at Calicut and Cranganore ; and in 1639 at Madras. Christian missions have made more progress in Madras than in any other part of India, there being over 240 Christians in every 10,000 inhabitants.