Cuddalore district is a district of Tamil Nadu state with its administrative headquarters located at Cuddalore city. The district got its name from its headquarters city, Cuddalore. Before the advent of British the place, Cuddalore was popularly called as "Koodalur", a Tamil term meaning "confluence" since it is the meeting place of the four prominent rivers namely Pennaiyar, Kedilam, Paravanar and Uppanaar. Historically, the place Cuddalore comprises "Chola Naadu" and "Nadu Naadu". Being a seaport, Cuddalore has been ruled by the Netherlands, Portugal, France and the British through many centuries. In the 1600s, both the French and English came to Cuddalore for trade and business purposes. Then the French settled at Pondicherry and the British at Cuddalore. Even today also some streets of the Cuddalore are retained British names likewise Clive Street, Wellington Street, Sloper Street, Canning Street and many more. At that time a great war was going on between French and British, thus the place of Cuddalore surrendered to French troops on 29th April, 1758. From the period 1789 to 1794, there was further unrest in Cuddalore due to the War of American Independence and the Second Anglo-Mysore War culminating in the siege of Cuddalore, after which the town was returned to British, as part of a peace treaty. Whenever, someone unfolds the history of Tamil Nadu, it is obvious to remember the Indian Ocean earthquake of 2004 which devastated the historically significant Cuddalore Port very badly. Cuddalore as a separate district came into existence on 30th September, 1993.
Jayakanthan, an eminent Indian writer, journalist, orator, film-maker, critic and activist was born on 24th April, 1934 at Cuddalore city. The Government of India honoured him with the prestigious Padma Bhushan Award in the year 2009.
Geographically, the district lies at 11°75'N latitude, 79°75'E longitude and 1 m altitude. In the year 2021, there was a total 10.54% forest area of total geographical area. The district encompasses a geographical area of 3,703 sq Km. and bounded by Viluppuram district on North, Nagapattinam district on the South, Bay of Bengal on the East and Perambalur district on the West. Most of its rainfall occurs in the monsoon season. The actual rainfall in the district was 1792.6 mm in the year of 2021-22.
Administration wise, the district is divided into 8 taluks namely Chidambaram, Cuddalore, Kattumannarkoil, Panruti, Titakudi, Vriddachalam, Veppur and Kurinjipadi. Moreover, it comprises 30 towns and 828 villages. The administrative language in the district is Tamil.
According to 2011 census the district has a population of 26,05,914 out of which 13,11,697 are males and 12,94,217 are females. The district has a sex ratio of 987 (females for every 1000 males). During the year 2001-2011 the population growth rate in the district was 14.02% including 13.97% were males and 14.08% were females. As per 2011 census the major religion in the district is Hindu with 91.78% of the total population. The population density in the district is 704 persons per sq. km. According to 2011 census the principal languages in the district is Tamil with 97.59%. In the year 2020 the number of live births in the district was 30,264 out of which 15,516 were males and 14,748 were females. In the same year the number of deaths in the district was 20,722 out of which 12,337 were males and 8,385 were females.
Agriculture is the backbone of the economy of the district. Most of the lands in the district are use for agricultural purposes. More than half of its population are engaged in agriculture in order to earn their livelihood. The chief agricultural products in the district are paddy, groundnut, sugarcane, tapioca, black gram, coriander, banana, maize, cashew nut, etc. Fishing is a source of extra income for its people since is a famous coastal place. Industrially, also the district is quite well developed. The foremost industries in the district are JK Pharma Industry, Neyveli Lignite Corporation, SPIC, etc. Every year a huge chunk of revenue comes from these industries in the district helps in its economy to a great extent. In 2006 the Ministry of Panchayati Raj declared Cuddalore as one of the country's 250 most backward districts and currently receiving funds from the Backward Regions Grant Fund Programme (BRGF). In the year 2011-12 the gross domestic product in the district was Rs. 20,87,392 lakhs at current price and Rs. 13,31,554 lakhs at constant prices in the year 2004-2005. The net domestic product in the district during the period 2018-19 was Rs. 41,73,074 lakh at current price and Rs. 28,35,301 lakh at constant prices in the year 2011-2012. The Per Capita Income or NDDP, At Factor Cost during the period 2016-17 was Rs. 1,25,129 at current price and Rs. 90,790 at constant prices in the year 2011-2012.
The district is well known as an abode of several reputed educational institutions. It provides a platform for higher education. Some of its recognised educational institutions are Periyar Arts College, St. Joseph Arts & Science College, C. Kandasamy Naidu Women’s College, Krishnasamy Memorial Engineering College, Jayaram Engineering College, Krishnasamy Memorial Polytechnic, Padaleeswarar Polytechnic, etc. As per 2011 census the literacy rate in the district is 78.04% including 85.93% are males and 70.14% are females. The total number of literates in the district is 18,15,281 including 10,00,322 are males and 8,14,959 are females.
The district has several centres of attraction which allures many travellers from different parts of the country as well as world. Pichavaram, a place located in the district has the distinguished Mangrove forest which is considered as the healthiest mangrove occurrence in the world. The special attraction of this place is its boating facilities. Vadalur, a place was named after an important Tamil saint Ramalinga Swamigal who was also popularly called as Vallalar. The place is well known for the "Thai Poosam" festival which celebrated in the month of December-January. Some other notable places of interest in the district are Veeranam Lake, Wellington Lake, Natraja Temple, Silver Beach, etc.