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Definition of WEST BENGAL
state E India comprising the W third of former Bengal province ∗ Calcutta area 33,852 square miles (87,677 square kilometers), pop 68,077,965
State (pop., 2008 est.: 87,869,000), northeastern India. It is bordered by the countries of Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh and the states of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, and Assam and has an area of 34,267 sq mi (88,752 sq km); the capital is Kolkata (Calcutta). It encompasses two broad natural regions, the Gangetic Plain in the south and the sub-Himalayan and Himalayan area in the north. From the 3rd century BCE the broader region of Bengal formed part of Ashoka's empire. In the 4th century CE it was absorbed into the Gupta empire. From the 13th century it was under Muslim rule until it came under the British in the 18th century. At Indian independence in 1947, Bengal was partitioned, with the eastern sector becoming East Pakistan (later Bangladesh) and the western sector becoming India's West Bengal. Agriculture is the state's main economic activity. It is noted for its artistic endeavours, including filmmaking.