West Bengal is a state in eastern India. With Bangladesh, which lies on its eastern border, the state forms the ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. To its northeast lie the states of Assam and Sikkim and the country Bhutan, and to its southwest, the state of Orissa. To the west it borders the state of Jharkhand and Bihar, and to the northwest, Nepal.
A hotbed of the Indian independence movement through the early 20th century, Bengal was divided in 1947 into two separate entities, West Bengal—a state of India, and East Pakistan belonging to the new nation of Pakistan. Following India's independence in 1947, West Bengal's economic and political systems were dominated for many decades by Marxism, Naxalite movements and trade unionism.
An agriculture-dependent state, West Bengal occupies only 2.7% of the India's land area, though it supports over 7.8% of Indian population, and is the most densely populated state in India. West Bengal has been ruled by the CPI (M)-led Left Front for three decades, making it the world's longest-running democratically-elected communist government.
West Bengal is on the eastern bottleneck of India, stretching from the Himalayas in the north to the Bay of Bengal in the south. The state has a total area of 88,752 square kilometres (34,267 sq mi).
The Ganges is the main river, which divides in West Bengal. One branch enters Bangladesh as the Padma or Pôdda, while the other flows through West Bengal as the Bhagirathi River and Hooghly River. The Teesta, Torsa, Jaldhaka and Mahananda rivers are in the northern hilly region.
Agriculture is the leading occupation in West Bengal. Rice is the state's principal food crop. Other food crops are maize, pulses, oil seeds, wheat, barley, tobacco, sugarcane and potatoes. Jute is the main cash crop of the region. Tea is also produced commercially; the region is well known for Darjeeling and other high quality teas.
The Bangla or Bengali language boasts a rich literary heritage, shared with neighboring Bangladesh. West Bengal has a long tradition in folk literature, evidenced by the Charyapada, Mangalkavya, Shreekrishna Kirtana, Thakurmar Jhuli, and stories related to Gopal Bhar. In the nineteenth and twentieth century, Bengali literature was modernized in the works of authors such as Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Michael Madhusudan Dutt, Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay.
The Baul tradition is a unique heritage of Bangla folk music, which has also been influenced by regional music traditions. Places of interest include Santhinikethan, Darjeeling,Sunderbans etc
Facts at a glance
Time zone – IST (UTC+5:30). Area – 88,752 km² (34,267 sq mi). Capital – Kolkata (Calcutta). Largest city – Kolkata. District(s) – 19. Population – 80,221,171 (4th). Density – 904 /km² (2,341 /sq mi). Language(s) – Bengali. Established – 1960-05-01.