Region in Asia
Location of Bengal
|Iron Age India, Vedic India, Vanga Kingdom||1500 – c. 500 BCE|
|Gangaridai, Nanda Empire||345–300 BCE|
|Gupta Empire||2nd century–5th century|
|Pala Empire||8th century–12th century|
|Delhi Sultanate||1204–1339 CE|
|Bengal Sultanate||1338–1576 CE|
|Bengal Subah||1565–1717 CE|
|Nawabs of Bengal||1717–1765 CE|
|Bengal Presidency||1765–1947 CE|
|• Total||236,322 km2 (91,244 sq mi)|
|• Total||250 million ~ 300 million|
|• Density||1,070/km2 (2,800/sq mi)|
|Official languages||Bangladesh – Bengali West Bengal – Bengali, English|
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Bengal ( // ; Bengali : বাংলা/বঙ্গ, romanized: Bānglā/BôngôBengali pronunciation: [bɔŋgo] ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent at the apex of the Bay of Bengal. Geographically, it is made up by the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta system, the largest such formation in the world; along with mountains in its north bordering the Himalayan states of Nepal and Bhutan and east bordering Burma.
Bengali, also known by its endonym Bangla, is an Indo-Aryan language primarily spoken by the Bengalis in South Asia. It is the official and most widely spoken language of Bangladesh and second most widely spoken of the 22 scheduled languages of India, behind Hindi. In 2015, 160 million speakers were reported for Bangladesh, and the 2011 Indian census counted another 100 million. With approximately 260–300 million total speakers worldwide, Bengali is the 6th most spoken language by number of native speakers and 7th most spoken language by total number of speakers in the world.
South Asia, or Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan SAARC countries and, for some authorities, adjoining countries to the west and east. Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate, which rises above sea level as Nepal and northern parts of India situated south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. South Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean and on land by West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.
The Indian subcontinent, is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago. Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. Politically, the Indian subcontinent includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
Politically, Bengal is currently divided between Bangladesh (which covers two-thirds of the region) and the Indian territories of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley (altogether cover the remaining one-third). In 2011, the population of Bengal was estimated to be 250 million, making it one of the most densely populated regions in the world. Among them, an estimated 160 million people live in Bangladesh and 91.3 million people live in West Bengal. The predominant ethnolinguistic group is the Bengali people, who speak the Indo-Aryan Bengali language. Bengali Muslims are the majority in Bangladesh and Bengali Hindus are the majority in West Bengal and Tripura, while Barak Valley contains almost equal proportions of Bengali Hindus and Bengali Muslims. Outside Bengal proper, the Indian territories of Jharkhand, Bihar and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also home to significant communities of Bengalis.
Bangladesh, officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's 8th-most populous country with a population exceeding 162,951,560 people. In area, it is the 92nd-largest country, spanning 147,570 square kilometres (56,980 sq mi). It shares land borders with India to the west and Myanmar to the east. It is also one of the most densely-populated countries in the world. Dhaka is its capital and largest city, and is also the economic, political and the cultural center of Bangladesh, followed by Chittagong, which has the country's largest port. Bangladesh forms the largest and eastern part of the Bengal region. The country's geography is dominated by the Bengal delta, the largest delta in the world. The country has many rivers and 8,046 km (5,000 mi) of inland waterways. Highlands with evergreen forests are found in the northeastern and southeastern regions of the country. The country also has the longest sea beach and the largest mangrove forest in the world. The country's biodiversity includes a vast array of plants and wildlife, including the endangered Bengal tiger, the national animal.
West Bengal is an Indian state located in the eastern region of the country along the Bay of Bengal. With over 91 million inhabitants, it is India's fourth-most populous state. West Bengal is the fourteenth-largest Indian state, with an area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi). A part of the ethno-linguistic Bengal region of the Indian subcontinent, it borders Bangladesh in the east, and Nepal and Bhutan in the north. It also borders the Indian states of Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam. The state capital is Kolkata (Calcutta), the seventh-largest city in India, and center of the third-largest metropolitan area in the country. As for geography, West Bengal includes the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region, and the coastal Sundarbans. The main ethnic group are the Bengalis, with Bengali Hindus forming the demographic majority.
Tripura is a state in northeastern India. The third-smallest state in the country, it covers 10,491 km2 (4,051 sq mi) and is bordered by Bangladesh to the north, south, and west, and the Indian states of Assam and Mizoram to the east. In 2011 the state had 3,671,032 residents, constituting 0.3% of the country's population.
Dense woodlands, including hilly rainforests, cover Bengal's northern and eastern areas; while an elevated forested plateau covers its central area. In the littoral southwest are the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest and home of the Bengal tiger. In the coastal southeast lies Cox's Bazar, the longest beach in the world at 125 km (78 mi). The region has a monsoon climate, which the Bengali calendar divides into six seasons.
Rainforests are forests characterized by high rainfall, with annual rainfall in the case of tropical rainforests between 250 and 450 centimetres, and definitions varying by region for temperate rainforests. The monsoon trough, alternatively known as the intertropical convergence zone, plays a significant role in creating the climatic conditions necessary for the Earth's tropical rainforests.
The Sundarbans is a mangrove area in the delta formed by the confluence of Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Rivers in the Bay of Bengal. It spans from the Hooghly River in India's state of West Bengal to the Baleswar River in Bangladesh. It comprises closed and open mangrove forests, agriculturally used land, mudflats and barren land, and is intersected by multiple tidal streams and channels. Four protected areas in the Sundarbans are enlisted as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, viz Sundarbans National Park, Sundarbans West, Sundarbans South and Sundarbans East Wildlife Sanctuaries.
The Bengal tiger is a tiger population native to the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List since 2008, and was estimated at comprising fewer than 2,500 individuals by 2011. It is threatened by poaching, loss, and fragmentation of habitat. None of the Tiger Conservation Landscapes within its range is considered large enough to support an effective population of more than 250 adult individuals. India's tiger population was estimated at 1,706–1,909 individuals in 2010. By 2014, the population had reputedly increased to an estimated 2,226 individuals. Around 440 tigers are estimated in Bangladesh, 163–253 tigers in Nepal and 103 tigers in Bhutan.
At times an independent regional empire, Bengal was a leading power in Southeast Asia and later the Islamic East, with extensive trade networks. In antiquity, its kingdoms were known as seafaring nations. Bengal was known to the Greeks as Gangaridai, notable for mighty military power. It was described by Greek historians that Alexander the Great withdrew from India anticipating a counterattack from an alliance of Gangaridai.Later writers noted merchant shipping links between Bengal and Roman Egypt. The Bengali Pala Empire was the last major Buddhist imperial power in the subcontinent, founded in 750 and becoming the dominant power in the northern Indian subcontinent by the 9th century, before being replaced by the Hindu Sena dynasty in the 12th century.
Gangaridai is a term used by the ancient Greco-Roman writers to describe a people or a geographical region of the ancient Indian subcontinent. Some of these writers state that Alexander the Great withdrew from the Indian subcontinent because of the strong war elephant force of the Gangaridai. The writers variously mention the Gangaridai as a distinct tribe, or a nation within a larger kingdom.
Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king (basileus) of the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. He was born in Pella in 356 BC and succeeded his father Philip II to the throne at the age of 20. He spent most of his ruling years on an unprecedented military campaign through Asia and northeast Africa, and by the age of thirty he had created one of the largest empires of the ancient world, stretching from Greece to northwestern India. He was undefeated in battle and is widely considered one of history's most successful military commanders.
The Pala Empire was an imperial power during the Late Classical period on the Indian subcontinent, which originated in the region of Bengal. It is named after its ruling dynasty, whose rulers bore names ending with the suffix of Pala. They were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. The empire was founded with the election of Gopala as the emperor of Gauda in 750 CE. The Pala stronghold was located in Bengal and Bihar, which included the major cities of Vikrampura, Pataliputra, Gauda, Monghyr, Somapura, Ramvati (Varendra), Tamralipta and Jaggadala.
Islam was introduced during the Pala Empire, through trade with the Abbasid Caliphate.Following the early formation Delhi Sultanate, Islam fully spread across the entire Bengal region. During the Bengal Sultanate, founded in 1352, Bengal was transformed into a cosmopolitan Islamic superpower, often referred by the Europeans as the richest country to trade with. Later, it was absorbed into the Mughal Empire in 1576. The Bengal Subah, described as the Paradise of the Nations, was the empire's wealthiest province, and became a major global exporter, a center of worldwide industries such as cotton textiles, silk, shipbuilding, making worth 12% of the world's GDP, a value bigger than the entirety of western Europe and its citizens' living standards were among the world's most superior. Bengal's economy have waved the period of proto-industrialization. When conquered by the British East India Company in 1757 by Battle of Plassey and became the Bengal Presidency of the British Raj, Bengal made direct significant contribution to the world's first Industrial revolution, but experienced its own deindustrialization. The Company increased agriculture tax rates from 10 percent to up to 50 which caused multiple famines such as the Great Bengal famine of 1770 which caused the deaths of 10 million Bengalis and the Bengal Famine of 1943.
Islam is an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God. It is the world's second-largest religion with over 1.8 billion followers or 24% of the world's population, most commonly known as Muslims. Muslims make up a majority of the population in 50 countries. Islam teaches that God is merciful, all-powerful, and unique, and has guided humankind through prophets, revealed scriptures and natural signs. The primary scriptures of Islam are the Quran, claimed to be the verbatim word of God, and the teachings and normative examples of Muhammad.
The Abbasid Caliphate was the third of the Islamic caliphates to succeed the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It was founded by a dynasty descended from Muhammad's uncle, Abbas ibn Abdul-Muttalib, from whom the dynasty takes its name. They ruled as caliphs for most of the caliphate from their capital in Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, after having overthrown the Umayyad Caliphate in the Abbasid Revolution of 750 CE (132 AH).
The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic empire based in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for 320 years (1206–1526). Five dynasties ruled over the Delhi Sultanate sequentially: the Mamluk dynasty (1206–90), the Khalji dynasty (1290–1320), the Tughlaq dynasty (1320–1414), the Sayyid dynasty (1414–51), and the Lodi dynasty (1451–1526). The sultanate is noted for being one of the few powers to repel an attack by the Mongols, caused the decline of Buddhism in East India and Bengal, and enthroned one of the few female rulers in Islamic history, Razia Sultana, who reigned from 1236 to 1240.
Bengal played a major role in the Indian independence movement, in which revolutionary groups were dominant. Armed attempts to overthrow the British Raj began with the rebellion of Titumir, and reached a climax when Subhas Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army allied with Japan to fight against the British. A large number of Bengalis died in the independence struggle and many were exiled in Cellular Jail, located in Andaman. The United Kingdom Cabinet Mission of 1946 split the region between India and Pakistan, an action popularly known as the partition of Bengal (1947). This was opposed by the Prime Minister of Bengal, Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, and nationalist leader Sarat Chandra Bose. They campaigned for a united and independent nation-state of Bengal. The initiative failed owing to British diplomacy and communal conflict between Muslims and Hindus. Subsequently, Pakistan ruled East Bengal which later became the independent nation of Bangladesh by the Bangladesh War of Independence in 1971.
The Indian Independence movement was a series of activities whose ultimate aim was to end the British rule in India. The movement spanned a total of 90 years (1857–1947).
The Revolutionary movement for Indian Independence is a part of the Indian independence movement comprising the actions of the underground revolutionary factions. Groups believing in armed revolution against the ruling British fall into this category, as opposed to the generally peaceful civil disobedience movement spearheaded by Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The revolutionary groups were mainly concentrated in Bengal, Maharashtra, Bihar, the United Provinces and Punjab. More groups were scattered across India.
Syed Mir Nisar Ali Titumir was a freedom fighter who led a campaign against the British-rule in India, during the 19th century. He eventually built a bamboo fort in Narikelberia village, which passed into Bengali folk legend. After the storming of the fort by British soldiers, Titumir died of his wounds on 19 November 1831.
Bengali culture has been particularly influential in the fields of literature, music, shipbuilding, art, architecture, sports, currency, commerce, politics, science and cuisine.
The name of Bengal is derived from the ancient kingdom of Banga,(pronounced Bôngô)the earliest records of which date back to the Mahabharata epic in the first millennium BCE. . The suffix "al" came to be added to it from the fact that the ancient rajahs of this land raised mounds of earth 10 feet high and 20 in breadth in lowlands at the foot of the hills which were called "al". From this suffix added to the Bung, the name Bengal arose and gained currency". This is also mentioned in Ghulam Husain Salim's Riyaz-us-Salatin.
Other theories on the origin of the term Banga point to the Proto-Dravidian Bong tribe that settled in the area circa 1000 BCE and the Austric word Bong (Sun-god). [ self-published source? ] The term Vangaladesa is used to describe the region in 11th-century South Indian records. The modern term Bangla is prominent from the 14th century, which saw the establishment of the Sultanate of Bengal, whose first ruler Shamsuddin Ilyas Shah was known as the Shah of Bangala. The Portuguese referred to the region as Bengala in the Age of Discovery.
The modern English name Bengal is an exonym derived from the Bengal Sultanate period. [ failed verification ][ need quotation to verify ]
Most of the Bengal region lies in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta, but there are highlands in its north, northeast and southeast. The Ganges Delta arises from the confluence of the rivers Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Meghna rivers and their respective tributaries. The total area of Bengal is 232,752 km2—West Bengal is 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi) and Bangladesh 147,570 km2 (56,977 sq mi).
The flat and fertile Bangladesh Plain dominates the geography of Bangladesh. The Chittagong Hill Tracts and Sylhet regions are home to most of the mountains in Bangladesh. Most parts of Bangladesh are within 10 metres (33 feet) above the sea level, and it is believed that about 10% of the land would be flooded if the sea level were to rise by 1 metre (3.3 feet). Because of this low elevation, much of this region is exceptionally vulnerable to seasonal flooding due to monsoons. The highest point in Bangladesh is in Mowdok range at 1,052 metres (3,451 feet). A major part of the coastline comprises a marshy jungle, the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to diverse flora and fauna, including the royal Bengal tiger. In 1997, this region was declared endangered.
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 km2 (34,267 sq mi). The Darjeeling Himalayan hill region in the northern extreme of the state belongs to the eastern Himalaya. This region contains Sandakfu (3,636 m (11,929 ft))—the highest peak of the state. The narrow Terai region separates this region from the plains, which in turn transitions into the Ganges delta towards the south. The Rarh region intervenes between the Ganges delta in the east and the western plateau and high lands. A small coastal region is on the extreme south, while the Sundarbans mangrove forests form a remarkable geographical landmark at the Ganges delta.
At least nine districts in West Bengal and 42 districts in Bangladesh have arsenic levels in groundwater above the World Health Organization maximum permissible limit of 50 µg/L or 50 parts per billion and the untreated water is unfit for human consumption. The water causes arsenicosis, skin cancer and various other complications in the body.
North Bengal is a term used for the north-western part of Bangladesh and northern part of West Bengal. The Bangladeshi part comprises Rajshahi Division and Rangpur Division. Generally, it is the area lying west of Jamuna River and north of Padma River, and includes the Barind Tract. Politically, West Bengal's part comprises Jalpaiguri Division (Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, North Dinajpur, South Dinajpur and Malda) together and Bihar's parts include Kishanganj district. Darjeeling Hills are also part of North Bengal. Although only people of Jaipaiguri, Alipurduar and Cooch Behar identifies themselves as North Bengali. North Bengal is divided into Terai and Dooars regions. North Bengal is also noted for its rich cultural heritage, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Aside from the Bengali majority, North Bengal is home to many other communities including Nepalis, Santhal people, Lepchas and Rajbongshis.
Northeast Bengalrefers to the Sylhet region, comprising Sylhet Division of Bangladesh and the Barak Valley in the Indian state of Assam. The region is noted for its distinctive fertile highland terrain, extensive tea plantations, rainforests and wetlands. The Surma and Barak rivers are the geographic markers of the area. The city of Sylhet is its largest urban center, and the region is known for its unique dialect. The ancient name of the region is Srihatta. The region was ruled by the Kamarupa and Harikela kingdoms as well as the Bengal Sultanate. It later became a district of the Mughal Empire. Alongside the predominant Bengali population resides a small Bishnupriya Manipuri, Khasia and other tribal minorities.
The region is the crossroads of Bengal and northeast India.
Central Bengal refers to the Dhaka Division of Bangladesh. It includes the elevated Madhupur tract with a large Sal tree forest. The Padma River cuts through the southern part of the region, separating the greater Faridpur region. In the north lies the greater Mymensingh and Tangail regions.
South Bengal covers the southern part of the Indian state of West Bengal and southwestern Bangladesh. The Indian part of South Bengal includes 12 districts: Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan, East Midnapur, West Midnapur, Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum, Nadia, South 24 Parganas, North 24 Parganas. [ self-published source? ]The Bangladeshi part includes the proposed Faridpur Division, Khulna Division and Barisal Division.
The Sundarbans, a major biodiversity hotspot, is located in South Bengal. Bangladesh hosts 60% of the forest, with the remainder in India.
Southeast Bengalrefers to the hilly and coastal Bengali-speaking areas of Chittagong Division in southeastern Bangladesh and the Indian state of Tripura. Southeast Bengal is noted for its thalassocratic and seafaring heritage. The area was dominated by the Bengali Harikela and Samatata kingdoms in antiquity. It was known to Arab traders as Harkand in the 9th century. During the medieval period, the region was ruled by the Sultanate of Bengal, the Kingdom of Tripura, the Kingdom of Mrauk U, the Portuguese Empire and the Mughal Empire, prior to the advent of British rule. The Chittagonian dialect of Bengali is prevalent in coastal areas of southeast Bengal. Along with its Bengali population, it is also home to Tibeto-Burman ethnic groups, including the Chakma, Marma, Tanchangya, Tripuri and Bawm peoples.
Southeast Bengal is considered a bridge to Southeast Asia and the northern parts of Arakan are also historically considered to be a part of it.
There are four World Heritage Sites in the region, including the Sundarbans, the Somapura Mahavihara, the Mosque City of Bagerhat and the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. Other prominent places include the Bishnupur, Bankura temple city, the Adina Mosque, the Caravanserai Mosque, numerous zamindar palaces (like Ahsan Manzil and Cooch Behar Palace), the Lalbagh Fort, the Great Caravanserai ruins, the Shaista Khan Caravanserai ruins, the Kolkata Victoria Memorial, the Dhaka Parliament Building, archaeologically excavated ancient fort cities in Mahasthangarh, Mainamati, Chandraketugarh and Wari-Bateshwar, the Jaldapara National Park, the Lawachara National Park, the Teknaf Game Reserve and the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Cox's Bazar in southeastern Bangladesh is home to the longest natural sea beach in the world with an unbroken length of 120 km (75 mi). It is also a growing surfing destination.St. Martin's Island, off the coast of Chittagong Division, is home to the sole coral reef in Bengal.
The flat Bengal Plain, which covers most of Bangladesh and West Bengal, is one of the most fertile areas on Earth, with lush vegetation and farmland dominating its landscape. Bengali villages are buried among groves of mango, jack fruit, betel nut and date palm. Rice, jute, mustard and sugarcane plantations are a common sight. Water bodies and wetlands provide a habitat for many aquatic plants in the Ganges-Brahmaputra delta. The northern part of the region features Himalayan foothills ( Dooars ) with densely wooded Sal and other tropical evergreen trees. Above an elevation of 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), the forest becomes predominantly subtropical, with a predominance of temperate-forest trees such as oaks, conifers and rhododendrons. Sal woodland is also found across central Bangladesh, particularly in the Bhawal National Park. The Lawachara National Park is a rainforest in northeastern Bangladesh. The Chittagong Hill Tracts in southeastern Bangladesh is noted for its high degree of biodiversity.
The littoral Sundarbans in the southwestern part of Bengal is the largest mangrove forest in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region has over 89 species of mammals, 628 species of birds and numerous species of fish. For Bangladesh, the water lily, the oriental magpie-robin, the hilsa and mango tree are national symbols. For West Bengal, the white-throated kingfisher, the chatim tree and the night-flowering jasmine are state symbols. The Bengal tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh and India. The fishing cat is the state animal of West Bengal.
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|History of Bengal|
Human settlement in Bengal can be traced back 20,000 years.[ citation needed ] Remnants of Copper Age settlements date back 4,300 years. Archaeological evidence confirms that by the second millennium BCE, rice-cultivating communities inhabited the region. By the 11th century BCE, the people of the area lived in systemically-aligned housing, used human cemeteries and manufactured copper ornaments and fine black and red pottery. The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers were natural arteries for communication and transportation. Estuaries on the Bay of Bengal allowed for maritime trade. The early Iron Age saw the development of metal weaponry, coinage, permanent field agriculture and irrigation. From 600 BCE, the second wave of urbanization engulfed the north Indian subcontinent, as part of the Northern Black Polished Ware culture.
Ancient Bengal was divided between the regions of Varendra, Suhma, Anga, Vanga, Samatata and Harikela. Early Indian literature described the region as a thalassocracy, with colonies in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean. BCE. Later Roman accounts noted maritime trade routes with Bengal and a Roman amphora has been found in Purba Medinipur district, made in Aelana (present day Aqaba in Jordan) between the 4th and 7th centuries AD. Another prominent kingdom in Ancient Bengal was Pundravardhana which was located in Northern Bengal with its capital being located in modern-day Bogra, the kingdom was prominently buddhist leaving behind historic Viharas such as Mahasthangarh. In vedic mythology the royal families of Magadha, Anga, Vanga, Suhma and Kalinga were all related and descended from one King.For example, the first recorded king of Sri Lanka was a Bengali prince called Vijaya. The region was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Gangaridai. The Greek ambassador Megasthenes chronicled its military strength and dominance of the Ganges delta. The invasion army of Alexander the Great was deterred by the accounts of Gangaridai's power in 325
Ancient Bengal was considered a part of Magadha region, which was the cradle of Indian arts and sciences. Currently the Maghada region is divided into several states that are Bihar, Jharkhand and Bengal (West Bengal and East Bengal) [ citation needed ] Secular Sanskrit, or standard Old Indo-Aryan, was spoken across Bengal. The Bengali language evolved from Old Indo-Aryan Sanskrit dialects. The region was ruled by Hindu, Buddhist and Jain dynasties, including the Mauryans, Guptas, Varmans, Khadgas, Palas, Chandras and Senas among others. In the 9th century, Arab Muslim traders frequented Bengali seaports and found the region to be a thriving seafaring kingdom with well-developed coinage and banking.The legacy of Magadha includes the concept of zero, the invention of Chess and the theory of solar and lunar eclipses and the Earth orbiting the Sun.
The Pala Empire was an imperial power in the Indian subcontinent, which originated in the region of Bengal. They were followers of the Mahayana and Tantric schools of Buddhism. The empire was founded with the election of Gopala as the emperor of Gauda in 750.At its height in the early 9th century, the Pala Empire was the dominant power in the northern subcontinent, with its territory stretching across parts of modern-day eastern Pakistan, northern and northeastern India, Nepal and Bangladesh. The empire enjoyed relations with the Srivijaya Empire, the Tibetan Empire, and the Arab Abbasid Caliphate. Islam first appeared in Bengal during Pala rule, as a result of increased trade between Bengal and the Middle East. The resurgent Hindu Sena dynasty dethroned the Pala Empire in the 12th century, ending the reign of the last major Buddhist imperial power in the subcontinent.
Muslim conquests of the Indian subcontinent absorbed Bengal in 1204.The region was annexed by the Delhi Sultanate. Muslim rule introduced agrarian reform, a new calendar and Sufism. The region saw the rise of important city states in Sonargaon, Satgaon and Lakhnauti. By 1352, Ilyas Shah achieved the unification of an independent Bengal. In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Bengal Sultanate was a major diplomatic, economic and military power in the subcontinent. It developed the subcontinent's relations with China, Egypt, the Timurid Empire and East Africa. In 1540, Sher Shah Suri was crowned Emperor of the northern subcontinent in the Bengali capital Gaur.
The Mughal Empire conquered Bengal in the 16th century. The Bengal Subah province in the Mughal Empire was the wealthiest state in the subcontinent. Bengal's trade and wealth impressed the Mughals so much that it was described as the Paradise of the Nations by the Mughal Emperors.The region was also notable for its powerful semi-independent aristocracy, including the Twelve Bhuiyans and the Nawabs of Bengal. It was visited by several world explorers, including Ibn Battuta, Niccolo De Conti and Admiral Zheng He.
Under Mughal rule, Bengal was a center of the worldwide muslin and silk trades. During the Mughal era, the most important center of cotton production was Bengal, particularly around its capital city of Dhaka, leading to muslin being called "daka" in distant markets such as Central Asia.Domestically, much of India depended on Bengali products such as rice, silks and cotton textiles. Overseas, Europeans depended on Bengali products such as cotton textiles, silks and opium; Bengal accounted for 40% of Dutch imports from Asia, for example, including more than 50% of textiles and around 80% of silks. From Bengal, saltpeter was also shipped to Europe, opium was sold in Indonesia, raw silk was exported to Japan and the Netherlands, cotton and silk textiles were exported to Europe, Indonesia, and Japan, cotton cloth was exported to the Americas and the Indian Ocean. Bengal also had a large shipbuilding industry. In terms of shipbuilding tonnage during the 16th–18th centuries, economic historian Indrajit Ray estimates the annual output of Bengal at 223,250 tons, compared with 23,061 tons produced in nineteen colonies in North America from 1769 to 1771.
Since the 16th century, European traders traversed the sea routes to Bengal, following the Portuguese conquests of Malacca and Goa. The Portuguese established a settlement in Chittagong with permission from the Bengal Sultanate in 1528, but were later expelled by the Mughals in 1666. In the 18th-century, the Mughal Court rapidly disintegrated due to Nader Shah's invasion and internal rebellions, allowing European colonial powers to set up trading posts across the territory. The British East India Company eventually emerged as the foremost military power in the region; and defeated the last independent Nawab of Bengal at the Battle of Plassey in 1757.
In Bengal effective political and military power was transferred from the old regime to the British East India Company around 1757–65.Company rule in India began under the Bengal Presidency. Calcutta was named the capital of British India in 1772. The presidency was run by a military-civil administration, including the Bengal Army, and had the world's sixth earliest railway network. Great Bengal famines struck several times during colonial rule (notably the Great Bengal famine of 1770 and Bengal famine of 1943). The Indian Rebellion of 1857 was initiated on the outskirts of Calcutta, and spread to Dhaka, Chittagong, Jalpaiguri, Sylhet and Agartala, in solidarity with revolts in North India. The failure of the rebellion led to the abolishment of the Mughal Court and direct rule by the British Raj. The late 19th and early 20th century Bengal Renaissance had a great impact on the cultural and economic life of Bengal and started a great advance in the literature and science of Bengal. Between 1905 and 1912, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones, that included the short-lived province of Eastern Bengal and Assam based in Dacca and Shillong. Under British rule, Bengal experienced deindustrialization. m
In 1876, 200,000 people were killed in Bengal by the Great Bangladesh cyclone.
Bengal played a major role in the Indian independence movement, in which revolutionary groups were dominant. Armed attempts to overthrow the British Raj began with the rebellion of Titumir, and reached a climax when Subhas Chandra Bose led the Indian National Army against the British. Bengal was also central in the rising political awareness of the Muslim population—the All-India Muslim League was established in Dhaka in 1906. The Muslim homeland movement pushed for a sovereign state in eastern British India with the Lahore Resolution in 1943. Hindu nationalism was also strong in Bengal, which was home to groups like the Hindu Mahasabha. In spite of a last-ditch effort to form a United Bengal,when India gained independence in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines. The western part went to India (and was named West Bengal) while the eastern part joined Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan, giving rise to Bangladesh in 1971). The circumstances of partition were bloody, with widespread religious riots in Bengal.
The 1970 Bhola cyclone took the lives of 500,000 people in Bengal, making it one of the deadliest recorded cyclones.
West Bengal became one of India's most populous states. Calcutta, the former capital of the British Raj, became the state capital of West Bengal and continued to be India's largest city until the late 20th century, when severe power shortages, strikes and a violent Marxist-Naxalite movement damaged much of the state's infrastructure in the 1960s and 70s, leading to a period of economic stagnation. West Bengal politics underwent a major change when the Left Front won the 1977 assembly election, defeating the incumbent Indian National Congress. The Left Front, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI(M)) governed the state for over three decades, which was the world's longest elected Communist administration in history.Since the 2000s, West Bengal has experienced an economic rejuvenation, particularly in its IT industry.
The princely state of Hill Tippera, that was under the suzerainty of British India, was ruled by a Bengali-speaking monarchy. Following the death of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Debbarman, the princely state acceded to the Union of India on 15 October 1949 under the Tripura Merger Agreement signed by Maharani Regent Kanchan Prava Devi. By the 1950s, the region had a Bengali majority population due to the influx of Hindus from East Pakistan after partition. It became a Union Territory of India in November 1953. It was granted full statehood with an elected legislature in July 1963. An insurgency by indigenous people affected the state for several years. The Left Front ruled the state between 1978 and 1988, followed by a stint of Indian National Congress rule until 1993, and then a return to the Communists.
The Barak Valley joined the union of India after its partition from Sylhet in 1947 and has been a part of the state of Assam. One of the most significant events in the region's history was the language movement in 1961, in which the killing of agitators by state police led to Bengali being recognized as one of the official languages of Assam. The issue of Bengali settlement in the state has been a contentious part of the Assam conflict.
In 1948, the Government of the Dominion of Pakistan ordained Urdu as the sole national language, sparking extensive protests among the Bengali-speaking majority of East Bengal. Facing rising sectarian tensions and mass discontent with the new law, the government outlawed public meetings and rallies. The students of the University of Dhaka and other political activists defied the law and organised a protest on 21 February 1952. The movement reached its climax when several student demonstrators were shot dead by police firing. As a result of the movement, Pakistan government in 1956 included Bengali as national lanuage along with Urdu. UNESCO in 1999 declared 21 February as International Mother Language Day honoring the 1952 incident.
East Bengal, which was later renamed to East Pakistan in 1955, was home to Pakistan's demographic majority and played an instrumental role in the founding of the new state. Strategically, Pakistan joined the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization under the Bengali prime minister Mohammad Ali of Bogra as a bulwark against communism.However, tensions between East and West Pakistan grew rapidly over political exclusion, economic neglect and ethnic and linguistic discrimination. The State of Pakistan was subjected to years of military rule due to fears of Bengali political supremacy under democracy. Elected Bengali-led governments at the federal and provincial levels, which were led by statesmen such as A. K. Fazlul Huq and H. S. Suhrawardy, were deposed.
East Pakistan witnessed the rise of Bengali self determination calls led by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Maulana Bhashani in the 1960s.Rahman launched the Six point movement for autonomy in 1966. After the 1970 national election, Rahman's party, the Awami League, had emerged as the largest party in Pakistan's parliament. The erstwhile Pakistani military junta refused to accept election results which triggered civil disobedience across East Pakistan. The Pakistani military responded by launching a genocide that caused the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. The first Government of Bangladesh and the Mukti Bahini waged a guerrilla campaign with support from neighboring India, which hosted millions of war refugees. Global support for the independence of East Pakistan increased due to the conflict's humanitarian crisis, with the Indian Armed Forces intervening in support of the Bangladesh Forces in the final two weeks of the war and ensuring Pakistan's surrender.
After independence, Bangladesh adopted a secular democracy under its new constitution in 1972. Awami League premier Sheikh Mujibur Rahman became the country's strongman and implemented many socialist policies. A one party state was enacted in 1975. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated later that year during a military coup that ushered in sixteen years of military dictatorships and presidential governments. The liberation war commander Ziaur Rahman emerged as Bangladesh's leader in the late 1970s. He reoriented the country's foreign policy towards the West and restored free markets and the multiparty polity. President Zia was assassinated in 1981 during a failed military coup. He was eventually succeeded by his army chief Hussain Muhammad Ershad. Lasting for nine years, Ershad's rule witnessed continued pro-free market reforms and the devolution of some authority to local government.The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was founded in Dhaka in 1985. The Jatiya Party government made Islam the state religion in 1988.
A popular uprising restored parliamentary democracy in 1991. Since then, Bangladesh has largely alternated between the premierships of Sheikh Hasina of the Awami League and Khaleda Zia of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, as well as technocratic caretaker governments. Emergency rule was imposed by the military in 2007 and 2008 after widespread street violence between the League and BNP. The restoration of democratic government in 2009 was followed by the initiation of the International Crimes Tribunal to prosecute surviving collaborators of the 1971 genocide. Today, the country is one of the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world. It is listed as one of the Next Eleven countries, it also has one of the fastest real GDP growth rates . Its gross domestic product ranks 39th largest in the world in terms of market exchange rates and 30th in purchasing power parity. Its per capita income ranks 143th and 136th in two measures. In the field of human development, it has progressed ahead in life expectancy, maternal and child health, and gender equality. But it continues to face challenging problems, including poverty, corruption, terrorism, illiteracy, and inadequate public healthcare.
Bengal has been an independent territory during several periods in history, while at other times, it has been part of larger empires. Bengal has also been a regional empire, ruling over neighboring regions like Bihar, Orissa, Arakan, and parts of North India, Assam and Nepal.
Politically, the region is divided between the People's Republic of Bangladesh, an independent state, and the eastern provinces of the Republic of India, including West Bengal, Assam and Tripura. Politically both Bangladesh and Indian Bengal are socialist, with left wing parties dominating the region's politics.
The state of Bangladesh is a parliamentary republic based on the Westminster system, with a written constitution and a President elected by parliament for mostly ceremonial purposes. The government is headed by a Prime Minister, who is appointed by the President from among the popularly elected 300 Members of Parliament in the Jatiyo Sangshad, the national parliament. The Prime Minister is traditionally the leader of the single largest party in the Jatiyo Sangshad. Under the constitution, while recognising Islam as the country's established religion, the constitution grants freedom of religion to non-Muslims.
Between 1975 and 1990, Bangladesh had a presidential system of government. Since the 1990s, it was administered by non-political technocratic caretaker governments on four occasions, the last being under military-backed emergency rule in 2007 and 2008. The Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are the two largest political parties in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh is a member of the UN, WTO, IMF, the World Bank, ADB, OIC, IDB, SAARC, BIMSTEC and the IMCTC. Bangladesh has achieved significant strides in human development compared to its neighbours.
West Bengal, Tripura and Assam (home to the Barak Valley) are provincial states of the Republic of India, with local executives and assemblies- features shared with other states in the Indian federal system. The president of India appoints a governor as the ceremonial representative of the union government. The governor appoints the chief minister on the nomination of the legislative assembly. The chief minister is the traditionally the leader of the party or coalition with most seats in the assembly. President's rule is often imposed in Indian states as a direct intervention of the union government led by the prime minister of India.
Each state has popularly elected members in the Indian lower house of parliament, the Lok Sabha. Each state nominates members to the Indian upper house of parliament, the Rajya Sabha.
The state legislative assemblies also play a key role in electing the ceremonial president of India. The former president of India, Pranab Mukherjee, was a native of West Bengal and a leader of the Indian National Congress.
The two major political forces in the Bengali-speaking zone of India are the Left Front and the Trinamool Congress, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress being minor players.
India and Bangladesh are the world's second and eighth most populous countries respectively. Bangladesh-India relations began on a high note in 1971 when India played a major role in the liberation of Bangladesh, with the Indian Bengali populace and media providing overwhelming support to the independence movement in the former East Pakistan. The two countries had a twenty five-year friendship treaty between 1972 and 1996. However, differences over river sharing, border security and access to trade have long plagued the relationship. In more recent years, a consensus has evolved in both countries on the importance of developing good relations, as well as a strategic partnership in South Asia and beyond. Commercial, cultural and defense cooperation have expanded since 2010, when Prime Ministers Sheikh Hasina and Manmohan Singh pledged to reinvigorate ties.
The Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi operates a Deputy High Commission in Kolkata and a consular office in Agartala. India has a High Commission in Dhaka with consulates in Chittagong and Rajshahi. Frequent international air, bus and rail services connect major cities in Bangladesh and Indian Bengal, particularly the three largest cities- Dhaka, Kolkata and Chittagong. Undocumented immigration of Bangladeshi workers is a controversial issue championed by right-wing nationalist parties in India but finds little sympathy in West Bengal.India has since fenced the border which has been criticized by Bangladesh.
The Bengal region is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. With a population of 300 million, Bengalis are the third largest ethnic group in the world after the Han Chinese and Arabs. According to provisional results of 2011 Bangladesh census, the population of Bangladesh was 142,319,000; however, CIA's The World Factbook gives 163,654,860 as its population in a July 2013 estimate. According to the provisional results of the 2011 Indian national census, West Bengal has a population of 91,347,736. So, the Bengal region, as of 2011 [update] , has at least 233 million people. This figures give a population density of 1003.9/km2; making it among the most densely populated areas in the world.
Bengali is the main language spoken in Bengal. Many phonological, lexical, and structural differences from the standard variety occur in peripheral varieties of Bengali; these include Sylheti, Chittagonian, Chakma, Rangpuri/Rajbangshi, Hajong, Rohingya, and Tangchangya.
English is often used for official work alongside Bengali. Other major Indo-Aryan languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Assamese, and Nepali are also familiar to Bengalis.[ citation needed ]
In addition, several minority ethnolinguistic groups are native to the region. These include speakers of other Indo-Aryan languages (e.g., Bishnupriya Manipuri, Oraon Sadri, various Bihari languages), Tibeto-Burman languages (e.g., A'Tong, Chak, Koch, Garo, Megam, Meitei Manipuri, Mizo, Mru, Pangkhua, Rakhine/Marma, Kok Borok, Riang, Tippera, Usoi, various Chin languages), Austroasiatic languages (e.g., Khasi, Koda, Mundari, Pnar, Santali, War), and Dravidian languages (e.g., Kurukh, Sauria Paharia).
Life expectancy is around 72.49 years for Bangladeshand 70.2 for West Bengal. In terms of literacy, West Bengal leads with 77% literacy rate, in Bangladesh the rate is approximately 72.9%. The level of poverty in West Bengal is at 19.98%, while in Bangladesh it stands at 12.9%
West Bengal has one of the lowest total fertility rates in India. West Bengal's TFR of 1.6 roughly equals that of Canada.
About 20,000 people live on chars. Chars are temporary islands formed by the deposition of sediments eroded off the banks of the Ganges in West Bengal, which often disappear in the monsoon season. They are made of very fertile soil. The inhabitants of the chars are not recognised by the Government of West Bengal on the grounds that it is not known whether they are Bengalis or Bangladeshi refugees. Consequently, no identification documents are issued to char-dwellers who cannot benefit from health care, barely survive because of very poor sanitation and are prevented from emigrating to the mainland to find jobs when they have turned 14. On a particular char, it was reported that 13% of women died at childbirth.
Historically, Bengal has been the industrial leader of the subcontinent.
The region is one of the largest rice producing areas in the world, with West Bengal being India's largest rice producer and Bangladesh being the world's fourth largest rice producer.Other key crops include jute, tea, sugarcane and wheat. There are significant reserves of limestone, natural gas and coal. Major industries include textiles, leather goods, pharmaceuticals, shipbuilding, banking and information and communication technology.
Three stock exchanges are located in the region, including the Dhaka Stock Exchange, the Chittagong Stock Exchange and the Calcutta Stock Exchange.
Below is a comparison of economies in the region of Bengal
|Bangladesh||West Bengal (India)|
|US$314.656 billion||US$180 billion|
|US$1,925 per person||US$2,000 per person|
Bangladesh and India are the largest trading partners in South Asia, with two-way trade valued at an estimated US$6.9 billion. Much of this trade relationship is centered on some of the world's busiest land ports on the Bangladesh-India border, particularly the West Bengal section.
The partition of India severed the once strong economic links which integrated the region. Decades later, frequent air, rail and bus services are increasingly connecting cities in Bangladesh and West Bengal, as well as the wider region, including Northeast India, Nepal and Bhutan. However the overall economic relationship remains well below potential.
The following are the largest cities in Bengal (in terms of population):
|Port of Chittagong||Sea Port||Active||Chittagong, Chittagong|
|Port of Haldia||Sea Port|
|Active||Haldia, East Midnapur|
|Port of Mongla||Sea Port||Active||Mongla, Bagerhat, Khulna|
|Port of Payra||Sea Port||Active||Kalapara, Patuakhali, Barisal|
|Port of Kolkata||River Port||Active||Kolkata, Kolkata|
|Port of Narayanganj||River Port||Active||Narayanganj, Dhaka|
|Port of Benapole-Petrapole||Landport||Active||Sharsha, Jessore-Bangaon, North 24 Parganas|
|Sundarbans||World's largest natural mangrove forest|
|Cox's Bazar||World's longest uninterrupted sea beach|
|Chittagong Hill Tracts||Hilly areas inhabited by different indigenous tribes|
|Ratargul||Only swamp forest in the Bengal region|
|Lawachara National Park||Major national park and nature reserve|
|Siliguri||Hilly area of foothills of Himalayas|
The Bengal region is located at the crossroads of two huge economic blocs, the SAARC and ASEAN. It gives access to the sea for the landlocked countries of Bhutan and Nepal, as well as the Seven Sister States of North East India. It is also located near China's southern landlocked region, including Yunnan and Tibet.
Both India and Bangladesh plan to expand onshore and offshore oil and gas operations. Bangladesh is Asia's seventh-largest natural gas producer. Its maritime exclusive economic zone potentially holds many of the largest gas reserves in the Asia-Pacific.
The Bay of Bengal is strategically important for its vital shipping lanes and its central location between the Middle East and the Pacific. The Bay of Bengal Initiative, based in Dhaka, brings together Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka to promote economic integration in the subregion. Other regional groupings include the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Forum for Regional Cooperation (BCIM) and the Bangladesh Bhutan India Nepal (BBIN) Initiative.
Culturally, Bengal is significant for its huge Hindu and Muslim populations. Bengali Hindus make up the second largest linguistic community in India. Bengali Muslims are the world's second largest Muslim ethnicity (after Arab Muslims), and Bangladesh is the world's third largest Muslim-majority country (after Indonesia and Pakistan).
|Part of a series on the|
The Bengali language developed between the 7th and 10th centuries from Apabhraṃśa and Magadhi Prakrit.It is written using the indigenous Bengali alphabet, a descendant of the ancient Brahmi script. Bengali is the 10th most spoken language in the world. It is an eastern Indo-Aryan language and one of the easternmost branches of the Indo-European language family. It is part of the Bengali-Assamese languages. Bengali has greatly influenced other languages in the region, including Odia, Assamese, Chakma, Nepali and Rohingya. It is the sole state language of Bangladesh and the third most spoken language in India.
Bengali binds together a culturally diverse region and is an important contributor to regional identity. The 1952 Bengali Language Movement in East Pakistan is commemorated by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day, as part of global efforts to preserve linguistic identity.
In both Bangladesh and West Bengal, currency is commonly denominated as taka. The Bangladesh taka is an official standard bearer of this tradition, while the Indian rupee is also written as taka in Bengali script on all of its banknotes. The history of the taka dates back centuries. Bengal was home one of the world's earliest coin currencies in the first millennium BCE. Under the Delhi Sultanate, the taka was introduced by Muhammad bin Tughluq in 1329. Bengal became the stronghold of the taka. The silver currency was the most important symbol of sovereignty of the Sultanate of Bengal. It was traded on the Silk Road and replicated in Nepal and China's Tibetan protectorate. The Pakistani rupee was scripted in Bengali as taka on its banknotes until Bangladesh's creation in 1971.
| By category |
|Bengali literary history|
|History of Bengali literature|
|Bengali language authors|
|Chronological list – Alphabetic List|
|Writers – Novelists – Poets|
|Novel – Poetry – Science Fiction|
|Institutions and awards|
| Literary Institutions |
Bengali literature has a rich heritage. It has a history stretching back to the 3rd century BCE, when the main language was Sanskrit written in the brahmi script. The Bengali language and script evolved circa 1000 CE from Magadhi Prakrit. Bengal has a long tradition in folk literature, evidenced by the Chôrjapôdô , Mangalkavya , Shreekrishna Kirtana , Maimansingha Gitika or Thakurmar Jhuli . Bengali literature in the medieval age was often either religious (e.g. Chandidas), or adaptations from other languages (e.g. Alaol). During the Bengal Renaissance of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Bengali literature was modernised through the works of authors such as Michael Madhusudan Dutta, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Satyendranath Dutta and Jibanananda Das. In the 20th century, prominent modern Bengali writers included Syed Mujtaba Ali, Jasimuddin, Manik Bandopadhyay, Tarasankar Bandyopadhyay, Bibhutibhushan Bandyopadhyay, Buddhadeb Bose, Sunil Gangopadhyay and Humayun Ahmed.
Prominent contemporary Bengali writers in English include Amitav Ghosh, Tahmima Anam, Jhumpa Lahiri and Zia Haider Rahman among others.
The Mother Bengal is a female personification of Bengal which was created during the Bengali Renaissance and later adopted by the Bengali nationalists.The Mother Bengal represents not only biological motherness but its attributed characteristics as well – protection, never ending love, consolation, care, the beginning and the end of life. In Amar Sonar Bangla, the national anthem of Bangladesh, Rabindranath Tagore has used the word "Maa" (Mother) numerous times to refer to the motherland i.e. Bengal. Despite her popularity in patriotic songs and poems, her physical representations and images are rare.
The Pala-Sena School of Art developed in Bengal between the 8th and 12th centuries and is considered a high point of classical Asian art.It included sculptures and paintings.
Islamic Bengal was noted for its production of the finest cotton fabrics and saris, notably the Jamdani, which received warrants from the Mughal court.The Bengal School of painting flourished in Kolkata and Shantiniketan in the British Raj during the early 20th century. Its practitioners were among the harbingers of modern painting in India. Zainul Abedin was the pioneer of modern Bangladeshi art. The country has a thriving and internationally acclaimed contemporary art scene.
Classical Bengali architecture features terracotta buildings. Ancient Bengali kingdoms laid the foundations of the region's architectural heritage through the construction of monasteries and temples (for example, the Somapura Mahavihara). During the sultanate period, a distinct and glorious Islamic style of architecture developed the region.Most Islamic buildings were small and highly artistic terracotta mosques with multiple domes and no minarets. Bengal was also home to the largest mosque in South Asia at Adina. Bengali vernacular architecture is credited for inspiring the popularity of the bungalow.
The Bengal region also has a rich heritage of Indo-Saracenic architecture, including numerous zamindar palaces and mansions. The most prominent example of this style is the Victoria Memorial, Kolkata.
In the 1950s, Muzharul Islam pioneered the modernist terracotta style of architecture in South Asia. This was followed by the design of the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban by the renowned American architect Louis Kahn in the 1960s, which was based on the aesthetic heritage of Bengali architecture and geography.
The Gupta dynasty, which is believed to have originated in North Bengal, pioneered the invention of chess, the concept of zero, the theory of Earth orbiting the Sun, the study of solar and lunar eclipses and the flourishing of Sanskrit literature and drama. [ full citation needed ] Meghnad Saha was the first scientist to relate a star's spectrum to its temperature, developing thermal ionization equations (notably the Saha ionization equation) that have been foundational in the fields of astrophysics and astrochemistry. Amal Kumar Raychaudhuri was a physicist, known for his research in general relativity and cosmology. His most significant contribution is the eponymous Raychaudhuri equation, which demonstrates that singularities arise inevitably in general relativity and is a key ingredient in the proofs of the Penrose–Hawking singularity theorems. In the United States, the Bangladeshi-American engineer Fazlur Rahman Khan emerged as the "father of tubular designs" in skyscraper construction. Ashoke Sen is an Indian theoretical physicist whose main area of work is string theory. He was among the first recipients of the Fundamental Physics Prize “for opening the path to the realisation that all string theories are different limits of the same underlying theory”.Bengal was the leader of scientific endeavors in the subcontinent during the British Raj. The educational reforms during this period gave birth to many distinguished scientists in the region. Sir Jagadish Chandra Bose pioneered the investigation of radio and microwave optics, made very significant contributions to plant science, and laid the foundations of experimental science in the Indian subcontinent. IEEE named him one of the fathers of radio science. He was the first person from the Indian subcontinent to receive a US patent, in 1904. In 1924–25, while researching at the University of Dhaka, Prof Satyendra Nath Bose well known for his works in quantum mechanics, provided the foundation for Bose–Einstein statistics and the theory of the Bose–Einstein condensate.
The Baul tradition is a unique heritage of Bengali folk music.The 19th century mystic poet Lalon Shah is the most celebrated practitioner of the tradition. Other folk music forms include Gombhira, Bhatiali and Bhawaiya. Hason Raja is a renowned folk poet of the Sylhet region. Folk music in Bengal is often accompanied by the ektara, a one-stringed instrument. Other instruments include the dotara, dhol, flute, and tabla. The region also has a rich heritage in North Indian classical music.
Bengali cuisine is the only traditionally developed multi-course tradition from the Indian subcontinent. Rice and fish are traditional favourite foods, leading to a saying that "fish and rice make a Bengali".Bengal's vast repertoire of fish-based dishes includes Hilsa preparations, a favourite among Bengalis. Bengalis make distinctive sweetmeats from milk products, including Rôshogolla , Chômchôm, and several kinds of Pithe . The old city of Dhaka is noted for its distinct Indo-Islamic cuisine, including biryani, bakarkhani and kebab dishes.
There are 150 types of Bengali country boats plying the 700 rivers of the Bengal delta, the vast floodplain and many oxbow lakes. They vary in design and size. The boats include the dinghy and sampan among others. Country boats are a central element of Bengali culture and have inspired generations of artists and poets, including the ivory artisans of the Mughal era. The country has a long shipbuilding tradition, dating back many centuries. Wooden boats are made of timber such as Jarul (dipterocarpus turbinatus), sal (shorea robusta), sundari (heritiera fomes), and Burma teak (tectons grandis). Medieval Bengal was shipbuilding hub for the Mughal and Ottoman navies.The British Royal Navy later utilized Bengali shipyards in the 19th-century, including for the Battle of Trafalgar.
Bengali women commonly wear the shaŗi and the salwar kameez, often distinctly designed according to local cultural customs. In urban areas, many women and men wear Western-style attire. Among men, European dressing has greater acceptance. Men also wear traditional costumes such as the kurta with dhoti or pyjama , often on religious occasions. The lungi, a kind of long skirt, is widely worn by Bangladeshi men.
Durga Puja is the biggest festival of the Hindus in Bengal as well as the most significant socio-cultural event of the region in general.The two Eids and Muharram are the important festivals for Muslims. Christmas (called Borodin in Bengali) is also a major festival where people irrespective of their beliefs and faiths participate. Other major festivals include Kali Puja, Saraswati Puja, Holi, Rath Jatra, Janmashtami, Poila Boishakh and Poush Parbon.
Bangladesh has a diverse, outspoken and privately owned press, with the largest circulated Bengali language newspapers in the world. English-language titles are popular in the urban readership.West Bengal had 559 published newspapers in 2005, of which 430 were in Bengali. Bengali cinema is divided between the media hubs of Kolkata and Dhaka.
Cricket and football are popular sports in the Bengal region.
Local games include sports such as Kho Kho and Kabaddi, the latter being the national sport of Bangladesh.
An Indo-Bangladesh Bengali Games has been organised among the athletes of the Bengali speaking areas of the two countries.
Modern Bangladesh emerged as an independent nation in 1971 after breaking away and achieving independence from Pakistan in the Bangladesh Liberation War. The country's borders corresponded with the major portion of the ancient and historic region of Bengal in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, where civilization dates back over four millennia, to the Chalcolithic. The history of the region is closely intertwined with the history of Bengal and the broader history of the Indian subcontinent.
Dhaka, formerly known as Dacca, is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. It is one of the largest and most densely populated cities in the world, with a population of 18.2 million people in the Greater Dhaka Area as of 2016, while the city itself has a population of 8.9 million inhabitants as of 2011. Dhaka is the economic, political and cultural center of Bangladesh. It is one of the major cities of South Asia, the largest city in Eastern South Asia and among the Bay of Bengal countries; and one of the largest cities among OIC countries. As part of the Bengal plain, the city is bounded by the Buriganga River, Turag River, Dhaleshwari River and Shitalakshya River. The city is located in an eponymous district and division.
Chittagong, officially known as Chattogram, is a major coastal city and financial centre in southeastern Bangladesh. The city has a population of more than 2.5 million while the metropolitan area had a population of 4,009,423 in 2011, making it the second-largest city in the country. It is the capital of an eponymous District and Division. The city is located on the banks of the Karnaphuli River between the Chittagong Hill Tracts and the Bay of Bengal. Modern Chittagong is Bangladesh's second most significant urban center after Dhaka.
Indo-Persian culture refers to those Persian aspects that have been integrated into or absorbed into the cultures of the Indian subcontinent.
Sonargaon is a historic city in central Bangladesh. It is one of the old capitals of the historic region of Bengal and was an administrative center of eastern Bengal. It was also a port and trading center. During British colonial rule, merchants built many Indo-Saracenic townhouses in the Panam neighborhood. Sonargaon was central to the muslin trade in Bengal.
The history of Bengal is intertwined with the history of the broader Indian subcontinent and the surrounding regions of South Asia and Southeast Asia. It includes modern-day Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley, located in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, at the apex of the Bay of Bengal and dominated by the fertile Ganges delta. The advancement of civilisation in Bengal dates back four millennia. The region was known to the ancient Greeks and Romans as Gangaridai. The Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers act as a geographic marker of the region, but also connects the region to the broader Indian subcontinent. Bengal, at times, has played an important role in the history of the Indian subcontinent.
Bengalis, also rendered as the Bengali people, Bangalis and Bangalees, are an Indo-Aryan ethnic group native to the Bengal region in South Asia, specifically in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, presently divided between Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura, Assam's Barak Valley, who speak Bengali, a language from the Indo-Aryan language family. The term "Bangalee" is also used to denote people of Bangladesh as a nation.
The architecture of Bengal, which comprises the modern country of Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Tripura, Assam's Barak Valley, has a long and rich history, blending indigenous elements from the Indian subcontinent, with influences from different parts of the world. Bengali architecture includes ancient urban architecture, religious architecture, rural vernacular architecture, colonial townhouses and country houses, and modern urban styles. The bungalow style is a notable architectural export of Bengal. The corner towers of Bengali religious buildings were replicated in medieval Southeast Asia. Bengali curved roofs were copied by the Mughals in North India.
The Culture of Bengal encompasses the Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh and the Indian states of West Bengal, Tripura and Assam's Barak Valley, where the Bengali language is the official and primary language. Bengal has a recorded history of 1,400 years. The Bengali people are its dominant ethnolinguistic tribe. The region has been a historical melting point, blending indigenous traditions with cosmopolitan influences from pan-Indian subcontinental empires. Bengal was the richest part of Medieval India and hosted the Indian subcontinent's most advanced political and cultural centers during the British India.
The Sultanate of Bengal (also known as the Bengal Sultanate; Bangalah and Shahi Bangalah was the sovereign power of Bengal for much of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. It emerged after more than a century of rule by the Delhi Sultanate. The Bengal Sultanate was a cosmopolitan and important Muslim state in Asia. Described by the Europeans as the richest country to trade with, it was the first independent unified Bengali kingdom under Muslim rule. The region became widely known as Bangalah and Bengala under this kingdom. The two terms are precursors to the modern terms Bangla and Bengal. In European and Chinese accounts, the Bengal Sultanate was described as a major trading nation in the medieval period.
Bengali Hindus are an ethnic, linguistic, and religious population who make up the majority in the Indian states of West Bengal and Tripura. In Bangladesh, they form the largest minority. They are Bengalis adherents of Hinduism, and are native to the Bengal region in the eastern part of the Indian subcontinent. Bengali Hindus speak Bengali, which belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family and adhere to the Shakta and Vaishnava traditions of their native religion, Hinduism. There are significant numbers of Bengali-speaking Hindus in different Indian states.
The Bengal Subah, was a subdivision of the Mughal Empire encompassing much of the Bengal region, which includes modern Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal between the 16th and 18th centuries. The state was established following the dissolution of the Islamic Bengal Sultanate, a major trading nation in the world, when the region was absorbed into one of the Gunpowder Empires. Bengal was the wealthiest and commercially the most developed province of the empire as well as in the Muslim world and its economy signalled period of proto-industrialization. The Mughals played an important role in developing modern Bengali culture and society.
Chittagong, the second largest city and main port of Bangladesh, was home to a thriving trading post of the Portuguese Empire in the 16th and 17th centuries. The Portuguese first arrived in Chittagong around 1528 and left in 1666 after the Mughal conquest. It was the first European colonial enclave in the historic region of Bengal.
Bengali Muslims are an ethnic, linguistic, and religious population who make up the majority of Bangladesh's citizens and the largest minority in the Indian states of West Bengal and Assam. They are Bengalis who adhere to Islam and speak the Bengali language. They form the largest Bengali and the second largest Muslim ethnic group in the world.
Bengal is a region in South Asia, politically split between Bangladesh and India. Due to its long history and complicated political divisions, various names have been used to refer to the region and its subsections. The modern English name Bengal is an exonym derived from the Bengal Sultanate period. The name is used by both Bangladesh and West Bengal in international contexts. In the Bengali language, the two Bengals each use a different term to refer to the nominally identified nation: Bānglā and Baṅga
The history of the taka refers to the history of currency known as taka, tanka, tanga, tangka, tenge and tenga in many countries. The origin of the word is unclear. It is speculated that the origin lies with the term Tamga. Some sources consider the origin of the word to have come from an Indo-European language. The currency is used in Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. It was also used in Tibet and Arakan.
Bengal [...] was rich in the production and export of grain, salt, fruit, liquors and wines, precious metals and ornaments besides the output of its handlooms in silk and cotton. Europe referred to Bengal as the richest country to trade with.
Historians believe that Bengal, the area comprising present-day Bangladesh and the Indian state of West Bengal, was settled in about 1000 B.C. by Dravidian-speaking peoples who were later known as the Bang. Their homeland bore various titles that reflected earlier tribal names, such as Vanga, Banga, Bangala, Bangal, and Bengal.
In C1020 ... launched Rajendra's great northern escapade ... peoples he defeated have been tentatively identified ... 'Vangala-desa where the rain water never stopped' sounds like a fair description of Bengal in the monsoon.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Bengal .|