Assam is a state in northeastern India. Located south of the eastern Himalayas, Assam comprises the Brahmaputra Valley and the Barak Valley along with the Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts with an area of 30,285 sq mi. Assam, along with Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura, and Meghalaya, is one of the Seven Sister States. Geographically, Assam and these states are connected to the rest of India via a 22 kilometers (14 mi) strip of land in West Bengal called the Siliguri Corridor or “Chicken’s Neck”. Assam shares an international border with Bhutan and Bangladesh; and its culture, people and climate are similar to those of South-East Asia – comprising the elements in India’s Look East policy.
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.
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 and aesthetic environment.
The economy of Assam today represents a unique juxtaposition of backwardness amidst plenty. Despite its rich natural resources, and supplying of up to 25% of India’s petroleum needs, Assam’s growth rate has not kept pace with that of India; the difference has increased rapidly since the 1970s. The Indian economy grew at 6% per annum over the period of 1981 to 2000; the growth rate of Assam was only 3.3%.
According to recent analysis, Assam’s economy is showing signs of improvement. In 2001–02, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 4.5%, falling to 3.4% in the next financial year. During 2003–04 and 2004–05, the economy grew (at 1993–94 constant prices) at 5.5% and 5.3% respectively. The advanced estimates placed the growth rate for 2005–06 at above 6%.
The manufacturing sector showed some improvement in the 1990s with a growth rate of 3.4% per annum than 2.4% in the 1980s.For the past five decades, the tertiary sector has registered the highest growth rates of the other sectors, which even have slowed down in the 1990s than in the 1980s.
Unemployment is one of the major problems of Assam which can be attributed to overpopulation, and a faulty education system. Every year, large numbers of students obtain higher academic degrees but because of non-availability of proportional vacancies, most of these students remain unemployed.
In Assam among all the productive sectors, agriculture makes the highest contribution to its domestic sectors, accounting for more than a third of Assam’s income and employs 69% of workforce. Assam’s biggest contribution to the world is Assam tea. It has its own variety Camellia assamica. The state produces rice, rapeseed, mustard seed, jute, potato, sweet potato, banana, papaya, areca nut, sugarcane and turmeric.
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