West Bengal is located on the north-eastern part of India. It is bounded in the north by Bhutan and the state of
Sikkim, in the west by the state of
Jharkhand, in the east by Bangladesh, in the northeast by the state of
Assam, in the south by the
Bay of Bengal, in the southwest by the state of Orissa, in the northwest by Nepal, and in the west by the state of Bihar. Although West Bengal ranks among the smaller states of India in area, it is one of the largest in population. The capital is Kolkata, the largest city in the country. Other important cities and towns are Howrah,
About three quarters of the population live in villages. Of the different religions,
Hinduism, with its substrata of castes and aboriginal tribes, constitutes more than three-fourths of the population, most of the remainder being Muslims. West Bengal has about 40 recognized tribal communities. Bengalis have always fostered literature, art, music, and drama. Bengali literature dates back to the 12th century. The important festivals are the Gangasagar Mela, Kenduli Mela, Jalpesh Mela, Vasanta Utsav, Naba Barsho, Paus Mela and
Jagaddhatri Puja. West Bengal is well-known for its arts and crafts made of silk, ivory, shola, conchshell,
dhokra and beautiful clay models. The hilly areas specialize in blankets and woolen knitted garments, decorative kukris, and copper plates studded with stones and engravings of replicas of deities.
Agriculture plays a pivotal role in the state's revenue, and nearly three out of four persons are directly or indirectly involved in agriculture. The important crops include potatoes, oilseeds, tobacco, wheat, barley and maize. West Bengal also occupies a leading position among the principal rice growing states of India, by contributing 15 percent of the total production of rice.