Assam is situated in the North-Eastern part of India. Geographically, Assam is now a shadow of its former size. It has been reduced to one-third of its original size in the last thirty years. During the partition of India in 1947 Assam lost its Sylhet district excluding a major portion of Karimganj Sub-division. Thereafter, Assam continued to lose its area and population step by step as Nagaland, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh were separated.
Now it covers an area of 78,438 sq km. It is divided into two major physical regions—the Brahmaputra Valley and the Barak Valley. The mother tongue is Assamese mainly in the Brahmaputra Valley and Bengali in the Barak Valley. In ancient lore, Assam was known as Kamrup.
The State of Assam is dominated by the river Brahmaputra having its length about 2,900 km. Its drainage area is roughly 9,35,500 sq km. Average rainfall in the State is one of the highest in the world (between 178 and 305 mm) which is concentrated in four months from June to September. And so floods are common in Assam every year.
Assam is an ideal ground of diverse races. It remained predominantly a land of the Tibeto-Burmese and gave shelter to the streams of human waves carrying with them their distinct culture and civilization. Especially after independence and partition of India streams of refugees from former East Bengal migrated here in large numbers.
Tea is the main agricultural crop, and it has now become the major agroindustry of the State. India’s 55% of tea is produced in this state. More than 700 tea gardens spread over the State. Other major crops are sugarcane, jute and natural resources. Oil, coal, limestone, dolomite, refractory clay and natural gas are found here. Assam is the first state in India where oil was struck in 1899 at Digboi.
The State has two oil refineries, and the third is a petrochemical complex. The Numaligarh refinery was commissioned in 1999. There is also a public sector fertilizer factory at Namrup. Other major industries are based on silk, paper and plywood. Assam is the largest producer in the world of the golden coloured Muga silk. Other important cottage industries are handloom, carpentry, sericulture, manufacturing of cane and bamboo articles, etc.
The capital city of Assam is Dispur and Guwahati is the nerve centre of Assam. The Legislative Assembly of Assam consists of only one chamber having 126 members. It awaits further development in economy and education as the rate of literacy is still about 65% only and a large section of its population are under the poverty line.
Tourism is one of the major sources of income. Kaziranga National Park is one of the most beautiful tourist spots of the State. And Sivsagar, a famous tourist spot, is 369km West from Guwahati. There is the highest Shiva temple in India.