West Bengal
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West Bengal

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General Information

Land

The Ganges and its numerous distributaries have resulted in some of the most fertile regions in the world. Agriculture is the mainstay for about 70% of the population. The land usage in West Bengal  is as follows -  arable land: 62.8% (55,414 sq.km); forests 13.38%;  the rest is for other purposes.

West Bengal has 18 districts and Calcutta serves as the state capital. There are over 23 towns with a population of over 100,000. The largest cities are Calcutta, Howrah, Asansol, Durgapur and Siliguri. Other important towns include Darjeeling, Kharagpur and Haldia. Calcutta is amongst the largest metropolitan regions in the world.

The state has international boundaries with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. The Indian states sharing boundaries with West Bengal are Orissa, Bihar, Sikkim and Assam.
Mineral wealth

West Bengal has large reserves of coal in the Ranigunj coal belt region.  Other minerals include dolomite, limestone and china clay.
Flora and Fauna 

West Bengal is rich in flora and fauna and has a diverse ecosystems because of its varying terrain from the high altitudes to the sea level plains. Protected forests cover 4% of the state area. There are 15 Wildlife Sanctuaries, 5 National Parks and 2 Tiger Reserves. The Sunderban, in south Bengal, is home to the famous Tiger Project - a conservatory effort to save the Bengal tigers from extinction. It is an UNESCO world heritage site. Another similar project exists in Buxa in north Bengal. Wildlife includes the Indian one horned rhinoceros, Indian elephants, deer, bison, leopards, gaur, crocodiles and others. The state is also rich in bird life, migratory birds come to the state during the winter.
Climate

The climate of Bengal varies according to the location. It's  cooler in the northern mountains than in the southern plains. Summers and winters can be extreme in the mid plains. Winters are cold in the mountain regions. The summer months are from March to June. The monsoon season lasts from June to September and brings heavy rain. The monsoons bring respite to the parched plains but they often cause floods and landslides. However the importance of the monsoons cannot be overemphasized in the Indian context. The economy of the whole nation is dependent to a great extent on the  monsoon rains. A good monsoon means a bountiful harvest in the coming months. The winter months are from October to February. The winter months are generally pleasant in the southern part of the state. Snowfall is limited to the Himalayan regions.

Summer temperatures - 24C to 40C
Winter temperatures - 7C to 26C
Environment 

The industrialized Calcutta and Durgapur regions have high levels of pollution compared to other parts of the state. However awareness about the environment is on the rise. The government, the judiciary and NGOs are playing a positive role in this respect. Potential natural calamities include floods and cyclones
People

Population 1991 census : 68,077,965
1998 estimates :78.1million.
Male 35,510,633 (52.16%)
Female 32,567,332 (47.84%)
Scheduled Castes 16,080,611 (23.62%)
Scheduled Tribes 3,808,760 (5.5%)
Population Density 767 per sq. km.
Birth Rate (per 1000) 22.8  (1996 est.)
Death Rate (per 1000) 7.8  (1996 est.)
Infant Mortality Rate (per 1000): 55 (1996 est)
Some Statistics

Capital

Calcutta

Area

89,000 sq km

Population(Census 1991)

68 million

Principal Languages

Bengali

Urbanisation Ratio(1991)

27.4%

Literacy Rate(19991)

72%

Major Minerals

Coal and china clay, Rock Phosphate,Limestone, Dolomite, Granite.

Major Industries

Engineering, automobiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, aluminum, ceramics, jute,
cotton textiles, tea, paper, glass leather,Bonemeal, bicycle, dairy & poultry, timber Processing.

Name and number of Districts

19 Districts - Bankura, Bardhaman, Birbhum, Coochbehar, Darjeeling, Dinajpur (N), Dinajpur (S),  Hooghly, Howrah, Jalpaiguri, Kolkata , Malda, Midnapore East, Midnapore West, Murshidabad, Nadia, Purulia, 
24 Parganas (N),  24 Parganas (S).

Population Density

767 person per sq.km.

Monsoon

July to September

Major Crops

Rice, Wheat, Jute, Tea, Potato, Sugarcane, Pulses, Oilseeds, Forest Products, Betel Leaf.

Principal Fruits

Mango, Pineapple, Banana, Papaya, Orange, Guava, Water Melon

Industries

Chemicals, Coal, Cotton Textiles, Jute, Paper, Tea, Heavy and Light Engineering, Leather & Footwear,  Liquor, Locomotive, Petrochemicals, Pharmaceuticals,  Electricals and Electronics,  Software and Infotech