Assam is a state in northeastern India, south of the eastern Himalayas along the Brahmaputra and Barak Valley. Assam covers an area of 30,285 sq mi (78,440 km2). The state is bordered by Bhutan and the state of Arunachal Pradesh to the north; Nagaland and Manipur to the east; Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, and Bangladesh to the south; and West Bengal to the west via the Siliguri Corridor, a 22 kilometres (14 mi) strip of land which connects the state to the rest of India.
Assam is known for Assam tea and Assam silk. The first oil well in Asia was drilled here. The state has conserved the one-horned Indian rhinoceros from near extinction, along with the wild water buffalo, pygmy hog, tiger and various species of Asiatic birds. It provides one of the last wild habitats for the Asian elephant. The Assamese economy is aided by wildlife tourism to Kaziranga National Park and Manas National Park which are World Heritage Sites. Sal tree forests are found in the state which, as a result of abundant rainfall, looks green all year round. Assam receives more rainfall compared to most parts of India. This rain feeds the Brahmaputra River, whose tributaries and oxbow lakes provide the region with a hydro-geomorphic environment.
The precise etymology of modern anglicized word “Assam” is ambiguous. In the classical period and up to the 12th century the region east of the Karotova River, largely congruent to present-day Assam, was called Kamrupa, and alternatively, Pragjyotisha. In medieval times the Mughals used Asham (eastern Assam) and Kamrup (western Assam), and during British colonialism, the English used Assam. Though many authors have associated the name with the 13th century Shan invaders the precise origin of the name is not clear. It was suggested by some that the Sanskrit word Asama (“unequalled”, “peerless”, etc.) was the root, which has been rejected by Kakati, and more recent authors have concurred that it is a latter-day Sanskritization of a native name. Among possible origins are Tai (A-Cham) and Bodo (Ha-Sam).
The government of India, which has the unilateral powers to change the borders of a state, divided Assam into several states since 1970 to satisfy national aspirations of the tribal populations living within the borders of then Assam. In 1963 the Naga Hills district became the 16th state of India under the name of Nagaland. Part of Tuensang was added to Nagaland. In 1970, in response to the demands of the tribal peoples of the Meghalaya Plateau, the districts embracing the Khasi Hills, Jaintia Hills, and Garo Hills were formed into an autonomous state within Assam; in 1972 it became a separate state under the name of Meghalaya. In 1972, Arunachal Pradesh (the North East Frontier Agency) and Mizoram (from the Mizo Hills in the south) were separated from Assam as union territories; both became states in 1986.
Since the restructuring of Assam after independence, communal tensions and violence remain there. Separatist groups began forming along ethnic lines, and demands for autonomy and sovereignty grew, resulting in fragmentation of Assam. In 1961, the Government of Assam passed a legislation making use of the Assamese language compulsory. It was withdrawn later under pressure from Bengali speaking people in Cachar. In the 1980s the Brahmaputra valley saw a six-year Assam Agitation triggered by the discovery of a sudden rise in registered voters on electoral rolls. It tried to force the government to identify and deport foreigners illegally migrating from neighboring Bangladesh and changing the demographics. The agitation ended after an accord between its leaders and the Union Government, which remained unimplemented, causing simmering discontent.
Assam is one of the richest biodiversity zones in the world and consists of tropical rainforests, deciduous forests, riverine grasslands, bamboo orchards and numerous wetland ecosystems; Many are now protected as national parks and reserved forests.
Assam has wildlife sanctuaries, the most prominent of which are two UNESCO World Heritage sites – the Kaziranga National Park, on the bank of the Brahmaputra River, and the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, near the border with Bhutan. The Kaziranga is a refuge for the fast-disappearing Indian one-horned rhinoceros. The state is the last refuge for numerous other endangered and threatened species including the white-winged wood duck or deohanh, Bengal florican, black-breasted parrotbill, red-headed vulture, white-rumped vulture, greater adjutant, Jerdon’s babbler, rufous-necked hornbill, Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, pygmy hog, gaur, wild water buffalo, Indian hog deer, hoolock gibbon, golden langur, capped langur, Barasingha, Ganges river dolphin, Barca snakehead, Ganges shark, Burmese python, brahminy river turtle, black pond turtle, Asian forest tortoise, and Assam roofed turtle. Threatened species that are extinct in Assam include the Gharial, a critically endangered fish-eating crocodilian, and the pink-headed duck(which may be extinct worldwide). For the state bird, the white-winged wood duck, Assam is a globally important area. In addition to the above, there are three other National Parks in Assam namely Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Nameri National Park and the Orang National Park.
Assam has conserved the one-horned Indian rhinoceros from near extinction, along with the pygmy hog, tiger and numerous species of birds, and it provides one of the last wild habitats for the Asian elephant. Kaziranga and Manas are both World Heritage Sites. The state contains Sal tree forests and forest products, much depleted from earlier times. A land of high rainfall, Assam displays greenery. The Brahmaputra River tributaries and oxbow lakes provide the region with hydro-geomorphic environment.
The state has the largest population of the wild water buffalo in the world. The state has the highest diversity of birds in India with around 820 species. With subspecies the number is as high as 946. The mammal diversity in the state is around 190 species.
Assam is remarkably rich in Orchid species and the Foxtail orchid is the state flower of Assam. The recently established Kaziranga National Orchid and Biodiversity Park boasts more than 500 of the estimated 1,314 orchid species found in India.
Places of Interests –
Guwahati , Kaziranga National Park , Manas Wildlife Sanctuary , Pobitora Wild Life Sanctuary , Kamakhya Temple , Brahmaptra River , Mazuli Island , Tezpur , Silchar etc .