Assam, state of India. It is located in the northeastern part of the country and is bounded to the north by the kingdom of Bhutan and the state of Arunachal Pradesh, to the east by the states of Nagaland and Manipur, to the south by the states of Mizoram and Tripura, and to the west by Bangladesh and the states of Meghalaya and West Bengal. The name Assam is derived from the word asama, meaning “peerless” in the now extinct Ahom language. The neighbouring states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, and Meghalaya were once part of Assam. The capital, formerly Shillong (now the capital of Meghalaya), was shifted to Dispur, a suburb of Guwahati, in 1972. Area 30,285 square miles (78,438 square km). Pop. (2011) 31,169,272.
Assam, which is shaped roughly like a Y laid on its side, is a land of plains and river valleys. The state has three principal physical regions: the Brahmaputra River valley in the north, the Barak River (upper Surma River) valley in the south, and the hilly region between Meghalaya (to the west) and Nagaland and Manipur (to the east) in the south-central part of the state. Of those regions, the Brahmaputra River valley is the largest. According to Hindu mythology, the Brahmaputra rises as the son of the god Brahma from a sacred pool known as the Brahmakund, in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh. The river enters Assam near Sadiya in the extreme northeast and runs westward through the length of Assam for nearly 450 miles (725 km) before turning south to enter the plains of Bangladesh.
Forests, formerly extending over nearly two-fifths of the state’s area, were reduced by the creation of Meghalaya and Mizoram in the early 1970s. In the early 21st century about one-third of Assam was covered with various types of woodlands, including tropical evergreen and deciduous forests, broad-leaved hill forests, pine forests, and swamp forests, as well as grasslands. Assam is home to some 75 species of trees, many of which have commercial value. Sal (Shorea robusta) and hollong (Dipterocarpus rhetusus) trees are among the most bountiful of the hardwoods. Bamboo, orchids, and ferns also are abundant.