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Assam is a state in the northeastern part of India that’s known for its rich culture, history, and beautiful nature. It’s surrounded by Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Bangladesh, Meghalaya, and West Bengal. The name “Assam” comes from an old language, and it means “peerless“, which means it’s special.
In this article, we’ll explore Assam’s land, weather, plants and animals, people, jobs, how to get around, government, and culture to help you learn more about this diverse and lively state.
Assam Geographical Feature
Assam’s geography is characterised by three primary regions: the Brahmaputra River valley in the north, the Barak River valley in the south, and the hilly region in the south-central part of the state, situated between Meghalaya to the west and Nagaland and Manipur to the east. The Brahmaputra River valley is the largest of these regions, dominating the state’s northern landscape. The Brahmaputra, a sacred river in Hindu mythology, flows through this valley, entering Assam near Sadiya in the extreme northeast and coursing westward through the state for approximately 450 miles (725 km) before turning south and entering the plains of Bangladesh.
The Brahmaputra Valley in Assam has lots of small hills and ridges that pop up suddenly from the flat lands. It’s not very wide, usually around 50 miles, and is surrounded by mountains on all sides except the west. Many little streams from the nearby hills flow into the Brahmaputra River, making its water rich. The Barak River Valley, even though it’s only partially in Assam, is important for farming in the southern part of the state. If we look at the rocks and dirt underneath, both the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys sit on very old sediment, which is a mix of different stuff like hard rock, soft sand, coal layers, clay, and limestone, collected over a very long time.
The hilly region in the south-central part of Assam, located between Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Manipur, includes the North Cachar Hills and is part of the Meghalaya Plateau. This plateau may have been an extension of Gondwana, an ancient landmass that once connected South America, Africa, Australia, and part of the Indian subcontinent. Isolated from the main plateau by the embayments of the Kepili River, this upland area exhibits rugged topography with a northerly slope and elevations ranging from about 1,500 feet (450 meters) to about 3,300 feet (1,000 meters).
Situated between the Brahmaputra valley and the south-central hill region are the northern ranges, extending northeastward from Dabaka to Bokakhat. The Rengma Hills, located south of this ridge, have an average elevation of about 3,000 feet (900 meters), with Chenghehishon as their most prominent peak at 4,460 feet (1,360 meters).
Assam Government and History
Assam has a government structure defined by the Indian constitution, with a governor, elected legislature, and a Council of Ministers led by a chief minister. The state’s history includes a rich past as part of ancient kingdoms like Kamarupa. The Ahom dynasty ruled Assam in the 13th century and contributed significantly to its culture and heritage. British colonial rule started in the 19th century, and Assam became a part of British-administered Bengal. After various administrative changes, Assam emerged as a separate province in British India. The state played a significant role in World War II, serving as a supply route for Allied forces in Burma.
Assam Natural Disasters and Climate
Assam is prone to natural disasters, with earthquakes being relatively common. Some of the most severe earthquakes in Assam’s history include the ones recorded in 1897, 1930, and 1950. The 1950 earthquake, in particular, is considered one of the most disastrous in South Asia’s history. It triggered heavy landslides that blocked the courses of many hill streams. The resulting floods caused more loss of life and property than the earthquake itself.
Assam’s weather changes a lot throughout the year. In August, it can get really hot, with temperatures reaching around 36°C (almost 97°F), while in January, it can get quite cold, with temperatures dropping to about 7°C (around 45°F). The cooler period usually lasts from October to February and during this time, there can be fogs and short showers. Unlike many other places in India, Assam doesn’t have a very hot and dry season.
From March to May, there’s some rain, but the heaviest rainfall happens when the southwest monsoon arrives in June and sticks around until September. This heavy rain can often lead to flooding that causes a lot of damage. Assam gets some of the most rain in the world, with an average of about 1,800 mm (70 inches) of rain in the west and more than 3,000 mm (120 inches) in the east every year.
Assam Flora and Fauna
Assam is a place in India with a lot of different plants and animals. In the past, there were many forests, but some of them were cut down when Meghalaya and Mizoram were created in the 1970s. Even so, about one-third of Assam is still covered with different types of forests, like tropical evergreen and deciduous forests, pine forests, and others. Assam has around 75 types of trees, and some of them are used for making things. Some common hardwood trees are Sal and hollong. They also have a lot of bamboo, orchids, and ferns.
Assam has many places where animals are protected, like Kaziranga National Park and Manas Wildlife Sanctuary, which are very important and special. In Kaziranga, there are animals like the one-horned rhinoceros. Manas is known for its tigers and leopards. Assam’s forests are also home to elephants, wild oxen, wild pigs, different types of deer, and monkeys like langurs and hoolock gibbons. Many different kinds of birds live in Assam, like cormorants, herons, ducks, and warblers. They also have reptiles like snakes, lizards, skinks, and geckos.
Assam People and Culture
Assam’s population is a blend of diverse ethnic groups. The plains of the Brahmaputra and Barak valleys are predominantly of Indo-Iranian ancestry. The Ahom people, who arrived in the 13th century, trace their roots to southern China. A significant portion of the population falls into the Scheduled Tribes category, including the Bodo people, mostly residing in the south-central hill region.
Assamese is the official language, with a rich literary history dating back to the 14th century. Various Tibeto-Burman languages are spoken by Scheduled Tribes, and the people in the Barak valley primarily speak Bengali.
Religiously, about three-fifths of the population are Hindus, primarily following Vaishnavism, while roughly one-third practice Islam. Some Scheduled Tribes have converted to Christianity, while others follow traditional local religions.
Agriculture plays a vital role in Assam’s economy, engaging around half of the working population and contributing significantly to the state’s gross product. Rice is the primary crop, but tea and jute are also important, with Assam producing a significant share of India’s tea. The state also cultivates oilseeds, pulses, sugarcane, corn, and more. Livestock and dairy farming have shown growth, while sericulture (silk production) is well-established.
Assam has valuable mineral resources, including petroleum, coal, natural gas, and limestone. The state generates energy from thermal and hydroelectric plants, purchasing some power from other sources.
Assam Transportation Facilities
Assam’s transportation network has improved with the construction of bridges over rivers like the Brahmaputra. Inland water transport is significant, with the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers serving as primary water channels. Several towns have airports, including Guwahati, Dibrugarh, and Silchar, with international service available at Guwahati.
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FAQs on Assam State
Where is Assam located in India?
Assam is situated in the northeastern part of India. It shares its borders with Bhutan, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, Bangladesh, Meghalaya, and West Bengal.
What does the name Assam mean?
The name Assam is derived from the word asama, which means peerless which means its special.
What are the primary geographical features of Assam?
Assam is characterized by three main regions: the Brahmaputra River valley in the north, the Barak River valley in the south, and a hilly region in the south-central part. The Brahmaputra Valley is the largest and is surrounded by mountains on all sides except the west.
What kind of climate does Assam have?
Assam experiences a diverse climate with hot summers, cool winters, and heavy rainfall during the monsoon season. Temperatures can range from 7°C (45°F) in winter to 36°C (97°F) in summer.
What natural disasters is Assam prone to?
Assam is prone to earthquakes, with a history of severe tremors. The state also experiences heavy monsoon rains, leading to frequent flooding.