West Bengal History
Bengal was ruled by the Buddhist Pala dynasty from 750 to 1161. The Palas were eclipsed by the Hindu Sena dynasty, who ruled Bengal from 1095 to 1260. Bengal came under Islamic rule starting in the 13th century, and developed into a wealthy centre of trade and industry under the Mughal Empire during the 16th century. European traders had arrived in the late 15th century and eventually the British East India Company controlled the region by the late 18th century, from which the British extended their rule over all of India.
When Indian independence was achieved in 1947, Bengal was partitioned into predominantly Hindu West Bengal and predominantly Muslim East Bengal. On 2 October 1955, Chandannagar, a former enclave of French India which had passed into Indian control after 1950, was integrated into West Bengal state. Certain portions of Bihar state were also merged with West Bengal.
West Bengal Districts
There are 19 districts in West Bengal, namely:
Bankura, Bardhaman, Birbhum, Cooch Bihar, Darjeeling, East Midnapore, Hooghly, Howrah, Jalpaiguri, Kolkata,
Malda, Murshidabad, Nadia, North 24 Parganas, North Dinajpur, Purulia, South 24 Parganas, South Dinajpur, West Midnapore
West Bengal Geography
With a total area of 88,853 km˛, West Bengal is on the eastern bottle-neck of India, stretching from the Himalayas in the North to the Bay of Bengal in the south. The Darjeeling Himalayan hill region to the northern extreme of the state belongs to the eastern Himalaya. This region contains Sandakfu (3,630 m)—the highest peak of the state. After a brief Terai region starts the plains. The plains continues into the Ganges delta towards the south. The rarh region intervenes between the Ganges delta in the east and western plateau and high lands in the western region of the southern part of the state. A small coastal region is on the extreme south, while Sundarbans form the most remarkable geographical landmark of the Ganges delta.
West Bengal Economy
Agriculture is the chief occupation of the people of the state. Rice is the principal food crop of West Bengal with maize, pulses, oil seeds, wheat, barley, potatoes and vegetables being others. Jute is the main cash crop of this region, tea being the second. Darjeeling tea is famous for its high quality. Tobacco and sugarcane are also grown in the state. The industries in the state are localised in Kolkata region and the mineral-rich western highlands. Durgapur Asansol colliery belt has some major steel plants. The state is also major producer of tea and jute products. Manufacturing industris like engineering products, electronics, electrical equipment, cables, steel, leather, textiles, jewellery, frigates, automobiles, railway coaches, wagons etc. also play important role. West Bengal's gross state domestic product (also called State Domestic Product, or SDP) for 2004 is estimated at $57 billion in current prices. The state of West Bengal has promoted foreign direct investment, which has mostly come in the software and electronics field. Kolkata is also becoming a major hub for the IT (Information Technology) industry. Owing to the recent boom in the economy of Kolkata and also the state as a whole, West Bengal is now the third fastest growing economy in the country. West Bengal has the fourth largest economy (2003-2004) in India. In terms of per capita income it ranks twelfth (2003-2004).