Bengal (Beng. বন্গ, Eng. Bengal) is a historical region in the northeastern part of South Asia. It is inhabited mostly by Bengalis, who speak the Bengali language. In the 20th century, Bengal was divided into East and West Bengal on the principle of religious majority. Today, West Bengal is one of the federal states of India, while East Bengal forms the state of Bangladesh.
Most of Bengal lies in the low-lying delta of the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers, the largest delta in the world. In the southern part of the delta are the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest, home to the endangered Bengal tiger. Bengal forms the northern coast of the Bay of Bengal.
The total area of Bengal is 232,752 km².
In 2001, Bengal had a population of 245,598,679. Of these, 68% live in Bangladesh.
The Bengal region is one of the most populated areas in the world. The population density exceeds 900 inhabitants per square kilometer.
Although in this region the majority of the population lives in villages and is engaged in agriculture, there are two megacities in Bengal: Calcutta and Dhaka.
Most of the population speaks Indo-Aryan languages, such as the Bengali language. Other language families (Dravidian, Munda) are present in the hilly regions of Bengal.
Muslims make up 66% of the population (89.7% in Bangladesh, 28% in West Bengal) and 33% are Hindus (9.2% in Bangladesh, 70% in West Bengal). The rest are Buddhists, Christians and animists.
After the settlement of the Indo-Aryans in India, in the present-day regions of Bengal and Bihar, they were formed in the 10th century BC. n. e. the states of Anga, Vanga and Magadha. The ancient Greeks around 100 BC. n. e. recorded that there was a land called Gangaridai in the area of Bengal. From the 3rd to the 6th century, the kingdom of Magadha was the center of the Gupta Empire. The Buddhist Pala Empire ruled the region from the 7th to the 11th century, and extended its rule across the Indian subcontinent to Afghanistan. It was replaced by the Hindu Sena dynasty. Islam appeared in Bengal in the 12th century with the arrival of Sufi missionaries. The following centuries were dominated by Muslim rulers in Bengal. Mughal Emperor Akbar captured Bengal in 1576. During the period of Mughal rule, there were also independent Hindu kingdoms in Bengal.
Traders from Europe reached Bengal in ancient times. Pliny the Elder records that he was�