West Bengal

West Bengal
Official seal of West Bengal
Location of West Bengal in India
Location of West Bengal in India
Country India
Established 26 January 1950
Capital Kolkata
Largest city /
Largest metro
Districts 20
 • Body Government of West Bengal
 •  Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi
 •  Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee ( TMC)
 • Legislature West Bengal Legislative Assembly (295 * seats)
 •  High Court Calcutta High Court
 • Total 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi)
Area rank 14th
Population (2011) [1]
 • Total 91,347,736
 • Rank 4th
 • Density 1,000/km2 (2,700/sq mi)
Time zone IST ( UTC+05:30)
ISO 3166 code IN-WB
HDI Increase 0.509 (medium)
HDI rank 9th (2011) [2]
Literacy 77.08% [3]
Official language Bengali, English
Nepali (in three subdivisions of Darjeeling district)
Website wb.gov.in
^* 294 elected, 1 nominated

West Bengal ( /wɛst bɛŋˈɡɔːl/; Bengali: পশ্চিমবঙ্গ, Pôshcimbônggô, /pɔʃtʃimbɔŋɡɔ/) is an Indian state, located in East India on the Bay of Bengal. It is India's fourth-most populous state, with over 91 million inhabitants. It has a total area of 34,267 sq mi (88,750 km2), making it similar in size to Serbia. A part of the ethno-linguistic Bengal region, it borders Bangladesh in the east and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It also has borders with five Indian states, including Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim and Assam.

The state capital is Kolkata (Calcutta), the third-largest city in India. The geography of West Bengal includes the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region in its extreme north, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region and the coastal Sundarbans. The main ethnic group are the Bengali people, with Bengali Hindus forming the demographic majority.

Ancient Bengal was the site of several major janapadas, including Vanga, Radha, Pundra and Suhma. In the 2nd century BC, the region was conquered by the emperor Ashoka. In the 4th century AD, it was absorbed into the Gupta Empire. From the 13th century onward, the region was ruled by several sultans, powerful Hindu states and Baro-Bhuyan landlords, until the beginning of British rule in the 18th century. The British East India Company cemented their hold on the region following the Battle of Plassey in 1757, and Calcutta served for many years as the capital of British India. The early and prolonged exposure to British administration resulted in expansion of Western education, culminating in development in science, institutional education, and social reforms of the region, including what became known as the Bengal Renaissance. A hotbed of the Indian independence movement through the early 20th century, Bengal was divided during India's independence in 1947 along religious lines into two separate entities: West Bengal—a state of India—and East Bengal—a part of the newly created Pakistan—later becoming Bangladesh in 1971. Between 1977 and 2011, the state was administered by the world's longest elected Communist government.

A major agricultural producer, West Bengal is the sixth-largest contributor to India's net domestic product. [4] It is noted for its cultural activities and the presence of cultural and educational institutions; the state capital Kolkata is known as the "cultural capital of India". The state's cultural heritage, besides varied folk traditions, ranges from stalwarts in literature including Nobel-laureate Rabindranath Tagore to scores of musicians, film-makers and artists. West Bengal is also distinct from most other Indian states in its appreciation and practice of playing association football besides cricket, the national favourite sport. [5] [6] [7]


Main article: Names of Bengal

The origin of the name Bengal (known as Bangla and Bongo in Bengali language) is unknown. One theory suggests that the word derives from "Bang," a Dravidian tribe that settled the region around 1000 BC. [8] The word might have been derived from the ancient kingdom of Vanga (or Banga). Although some early Sanskrit literature mentions the name, the region's early history is obscure.[ citation needed]

At the end of British Rule over the Indian subcontinent, the Bengal region was partitioned in 1947 along religious lines into east and west. The east came to be known as East Bengal and the west came to known as West Bengal, which continued as an Indian state. In 2011, the Government of West Bengal proposed a change in the official name of the state to Poschimbongo ( Bengali: পশ্চিমবঙ্গ Pôshchimbônggô). [9] [10] This is the native name of the state, literally meaning western Bengal in the native Bengali language. In August 2016, West Bengal Legislative Assembly passed another resolution to change the name of West Bengal to "Bangal" in Hindi, "Bengal" in English and "Bangla" in Bengali. Despite the Trinamool Congress government’s strong efforts to forge a consensus on the name change resolution, the Indian National Congress, the Left Front and the Bharatiya Janata Party opposed the resolution, However it awaits the consent of the Indian Parliament for approval. [11]