The Nagas are one of the Tibeto-Burman ethnic groups inhabiting the northeast hill areas between the Ganges-Brahmaputra basin of Bengal and the Irrawaddy basin of Burma. They exhibit marked cultural differences from the lowland cultures of India, Bangladesh, and Burma which surround them, as well as, shared similarities with the other hill cultures. The Nagas are divided into 16 main tribal groups, each with its own name and mutually distinct language, but their sense of national identity, forged during the years of British administration and reinforced by resistance to Indian government domination, now largely overrides the differences that separate them.
The Nagas remained socially isolated until they were forcibly brought under British colonial rule. The tribal region had been treated with benign neglect, but as an independent India began extending its control in the northeast, it came into a headlong clash with tribal political aspirations. Unrest in the northeast found its extreme expression in Naga areas. The politicization of the Nagas' identity in the Western political tradition developed rapidly during the 20th century under the tutelage of American Baptist missionaries and through their special status under British authority. As early as 1929, the Naga Club petitioned the colonial administration for special consideration of their impending status following the Simon Commission constitutional reforms on the Indian sub-continent. The Naga National Council (NNC) was formed in 1946 to unite the Nagas' 16 major tribes to avoid incorporation of tribal areas into the Indian Union and to press for regional self-determination.
The Naga movement has had a history of armed and non-violent resistance to the incorporation of the region in the Union of India. Nagaland became a constituent state in 1972.