West Bengal (/bɛnˈɡɔːl/) is a state in the eastern region of India along the Bay of Bengal. With over 91 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous state and the thirteenth-largest state by area in India. Covering an area of 88,752 km2 (34,267 sq mi), it is also the world’s seventh-most populous country subdivision. Part of the 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, the seventh-largest city, and the third-largest metropolitan area in India. West Bengal includes the Darjeeling Himalayan hill region, the Ganges delta, the Rarh region and the coastal Sundarbans. The state’s main ethnic group are the Bengalis, with the Bengali Hindus forming the demographic majority.

The area’s early history featured a succession of Indian empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance. Ancient Bengal was the site of several major Janapadas, while the earliest cities date back to the Vedic period. The region was part of several ancient pan−Indian empires, including the Mauryans, and the Guptas. The citadel of Gauḍa served as the capital of the Gauḍa Kingdom, the Pala Empire, and the Sena Empire. Islam was introduced through trade with the Abbasid Caliphate, but following the early conquest of Bakhtiyar Khalji and the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, the faith spread across the entire Bengal region. During the Bengal Sultanate, Bengal was a major trading nation in the world, and was often referred by the Europeans as the “richest country to trade with”. It was absorbed into the Mughal Empire in 1576. Simultaneously, some parts of the region were ruled by several Hindu states, and Baro-Bhuyan landlords, and part of it was briefly overrun by the Suri Empire. Following the death of Emperor Aurangzeb in the early 1700s, the proto-industrialised Mughal Bengal became a semi-independent state under the Nawabs of Bengal. The region was later conquered by the British East India Company at the Battle of Plassey in