Assam is situated in the North-East of India and is the largest north eastern state in terms of population while second in terms of area. Assam covers an area of 78,438 km2 (30,285 sq miles). 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. A significant geographical aspect of Assam is that it contains three of six physiographic divisions of India – The Northern Himalayas (Eastern Hills), The Northern Plains (Brahmaputra plain) and Deccan Plateau (Karbi Anglong).
The climate of Assam is typically ‘Tropical Monsoon Rainforest Climate', with high levels of humidity and heavy rainfall. People here enjoy a moderate climate all throughout the year, with warm summers and mild winters. Spring (March–April) and autumn (September–October) are usually pleasant with moderate rainfall and temperature.
As per the Census 2011, the total Population of Assam is 3.12 Cr. Thus the population of Assam forms 2.58 percent of India in 2011. Assam has total population of 31,205,576 in which males were 15,939,443 while females were 15,266,133.
Total area of Assam is 78,438 square km. Thus the population Density of Assam is 398 per square km which is higher than national average 382 per square km.
Assamese is the major indigenous and official languages while Bengali is the official language in the three districts in the Barak Valley. Assam also has a number of schools with English as the medium of education. As per the Language Census of 2011, a total of 1, 53, 11,351 people used Assamese language as their mother tongue and the language is ranked 12 among the 22 scheduled languages spoken in India. The total literacy rate of Assam is 72.19% according to the 2011 census study. The male literacy rate is 77.85% and the female literacy rate is 66.27% in Assam.
As per the 2011 census, the total population of Assam was 31,169,272. The total population of the state has increased from 26,638,407 to 31,169,272 in the last ten years with a growth rate of 16.93%. The total population of Assam is expected to reach 34.18 million by 2021 and 35.60 million by 2026. The Districts with higher population concentration are Kamrup, Nagaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Dhubri, Darrang, and Cachar.
Assam is rich in natural resources. The natural resources of Assam may be classified under following heads – mineral, forest, water and agricultural resources. The State 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.
Assam is famous for its abundant forest resources. A large part of Assam is covered by hills and forests. These hills and forests contain valuable trees in large quantities. The Dipterocarpus macrocarpus or locally known as the Hollong Tree is recognized as the State Tree of Assam. Assam is remarkably rich in Orchid species and the Foxtail orchid (Rhynchostylis retusa) also known as the Kopou Phul 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. Assam, with its vast area under hills and forests, is home to a variety of medicinal herbs and plants. About 300 types of medicinal herbs and plants are found in abundance in the state with the Brahmaputra valley alone having 150 varieties of herbs and plants of commercial value.
Assam has wildlife sanctuaries, the most prominent of which are two UNESCO World Heritage sites-the Kaziranga National Park and the Manas Wildlife Sanctuary. There are three other National Parks in Assam namely Dibru Saikhowa National Park, Nameri National Park and the Orang National Park. Kaziranga is a home to the fast-disappearing Indian one-horned rhinoceros which has also been recognized as the State Animal of Assam. The state bird of Assam is the white-winged wood duck.
Assam has abundant mineral resources coal, petroleum; limestone and natural gas are the principal mineral resources. It is also the largest producer of crude oil in India. Other minor minerals include magnetic quartzite, kaolin, sillimanites, iron ore, clay and feldspar etc. Oil India Limited (OIL) is the second largest hydrocarbon exploration and production Indian public sector company with its operational headquarters in Duliajan, Assam, India under the administrative control of the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas.
The Barak and the Brahmaputra rivers with their innumerable tributaries are the sources of water for Assam. These rivers supply water for growing different crops and also offer fishing trade. The scope for establishing hydroelectric power utilizing the water resources in Assam is quite vast.
In Assam, agriculture makes the highest contribution to its domestic sectors, accounting for more than a third of Assam's income and employs about 69% of workforce.
Assam has the single largest tea growing area in the world, constituting around one-seventh of the global tea production. It has its own variety Camellia assamica. The state accounts for over 50 per cent in the country’s overall tea production. The state houses Guwahati Tea Auction Centre (GTAC), one of the largest CTC tea auction centres of the world.
Assam also accounts for fair share of India’s production of rice, rapeseed, mustard, jute, potato, sweet potato, banana, papaya, areca nut and turmeric. Assam is also a home of large varieties of citrus fruits, leaf vegetables, vegetables, useful grasses, herbs, spices, etc. which are mostly subsistence crops.
Assam Silk denotes the three major types of indigenous wild silks produced in Assam—Golden Muga Silk, White Pat and warm Eri Silk. The Assam silk industry, now centered in Sualkuchi, is a labor-intensive industry. Assam enjoys global monopoly in terms of Muga Silk production. The state accounts for around 95 per cent of global Muga production. Moreover, Assam is the country’s major Eri Silk producer (accounts for 65 per cent of the country’s Eri silk production). Raw Silk production in Assam and Bodoland reached to 2,723 MT in the year 2017-18 (Up to November 2017)
Assam is a major producer of crude oil and natural gas in India. It was the second place in the world (after Titusville in the United States) where petroleum was discovered. Asia’s first successful mechanically drilled oil well was drilled in Makum (Assam) way back in 1867. The second oldest oil well in the world still produces crude oil. One of the biggest public sector oil companies of the country, Oil India Ltd. has its plant and headquarters at Duliajan. Assam has four oil refineries located at Guwahati, Digboi, Numaligarh and Bongaigaon with a total capacity of 7 MMTPA (Million Metric Tonnes per annum). Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (BRPL) is the only S&P CNX 500 conglomerate with corporate office in Assam.
At current prices, the Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) of Assam was Rs 2.50 trillion (US$ 37.23 billion) in 2016-17. The GSDP of the state grew at a CAGR (in Rs) of 11.78 per cent from 2011-12 to 2016-17. The GSDP of is estimated to have reached Rs 2.48 trillion (US$ 40.1 billion) in 2017-18.
Assam is India’s gateway to the Northeast and acts as a vital link for trade with Southeast Asian countries. It is well connected by rail, road, ports and airports. The State has adopted numerous investor-friendly policies to attract investments & accelerate industrial development. The North East Industrial Investment Promotion Policy and the Industrial Policy of Assam facilitate business through fiscal incentives and multi-year concessions to investors. The Information Technology (IT) Policy and the Tourism Policy of Assam have given special attention towards specific sector development.