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Coming into existence during the 1947 independence, West Bengal state was carved out from the state of Cooch Behar and some parts of Bihar state in 1956. Much of the state is made up of the fertile delta of the Ganges River.

On its north are the foothills of the Himalaya and the Sundarbans region to the south, which extends into Bangladesh.

The south contains one of the world's largest mangrove forests. Most of West Bengal as well is under cultivation since it has been heavily deforested. Formerly Ca;cutta, Kolkata is the state capital and India's second largest city.

Although English, Hindi Urdu and Manipuri are widely used and understood, the sate's official language is Bengali. West Bengal is predominantly Hindu, comprising 75% of the population but a significant Muslim minority also inhabits the state.

Notwithstanding its small geographical size, West Bengal is of considerable economic importance, accounting 17% of India's net domestic product. Its most important sector is agriculture with rice, pulses, oilseeds, jute and tea as major crops.

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