West Bengal combines with Bangladesh to form the area officially known as Bengal. It is the seventh most densely populated area in the world, with a population of between 80 and 90 million people (over 900 residents per square kilometre). It is bordered by Assam, Sikkim, Bhutan, Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar and Nepal (in addition to Bangladesh on its eastern border). The official language is Bengali.

West Bengal’s known civilised history dates back some 2000 years, during which time a number of empires, kingdoms and tribal dynasties dominated it. In 1757, Britain gained control over this region and made Calcutta its capital. Today, this city is called Kolkata. In fact, this city was the capital of the entire area of India that Britain had annexed, and is still referred to as the nation’s capital by some of the older generations. When India got its political independence in 1947, Bengal was split into West Bengal, which came under India’s rule, and East Bengal, which then belonged to Pakistan.

West Bengal has an interesting geographical structure as it occupies the area between the Himalayas and the Bay of Bengal. The plains towards the north become the Ganges Delta further southwards, and this area is prone to flooding during the heavy rains of the monsoon season, which extends from June to September. The southern areas have a tropical climate, which becomes hot and humid (or subtropical) towards the north. The Himalayan portion experiences cold winters with snowfall. Because its official area extends from the coast to the Himalayas, this area is particularly diverse in terms of the plants and animals that can be found here. The Bengal Tiger is the official State Animal, and resides in the beautiful forests of West Bengal. The Sundarbans are especially renowned for their efforts to save this endangered
Image of Mountains in Darjeeling
Mountains in Darjeeling, West Bengal, India
species, which is threatened by poaching, pollution and a diminished habitat due to industrial and residential development. In fact, there are several parks and sanctuaries throughout West Bengal that are designed to preserve the natural resources of the area. Visitors that enjoy wildlife and birds can also look forward to seeing Indian or Asian Elephants, antelope, leopards, Gaurs, crocodiles, Indian Rhinoceroses, Red Pandas, Barking Deer, Pangolins, Minivets, Serows, Kalij Pheasants, River Terrapins, Gangetic dolphins and estuarine crocodiles.

As with many other Indian states, farming is the supporting industry of West Bengal. It produces crops like rice, potatoes, sugar cane, tobacco, tea, wheat, oilseeds, pulses and jute. Manufacturing is also a major source of income, and this region is known for its production of electrical equipment, cables, leather, textiles, jewellery, electronics, and so on. Despite its agricultural produce, West Bengal still relies on the rest of India to provide enough food to sustain its local population.

Although most of the population in West Bengal are Bengalis, there are several other nationalities, many of them indigenous tribes that have long histories and unique identities. Hindi and English are spoken a lot, despite their not being the official languages. Almost three quarters of the population subscribes to Hinduism, while a large part of the remaining quarter is Muslim.

Because of its rather multifaceted past and the mixed tribes making up its population, West Bengal’s culture is characterised by its diversity. Many acclaimed authors have arisen out of this area and many Bollywood films have had their birthplace here.

West Bengal boasts countless fascinating attractions. The following are just a select few:

1. The tea gardens perched on the Himalayan slopes in Darjeeling
2. The Toy Train (a UNESCO World Heritage Site)
3. Kolkata (a city full of cultural and historical treasures)
4. The temples of Vishnupur
5. The jungles of Dooars
6. Shankarpur’s beaches
7. The temples of Kalighat and Dakshineswar

For more information, please view: http://www.westbengaltourism.gov.in/wb/

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