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Geography of Assam


Assam is very rich in vegetation, forests and wildlife. Lumber was once a lucrative business, until it was declared illegal by the Supreme Court of India. The region also has a number of reserved forests, and one of them, Kaziranga, is the home of the rare Indian Rhinoceros.

The state produces a lot of Bamboo, although the bamboo industry is still nascent. The wildlife, forests and flora, rivers and waterways, have great natural beauty, providing growth in tourism.

High rainfall, deforestation, and other factors have resulted in annual floods that cause widespread loss of life, livelihood and property. An earthquake prone region, Assam has experienced two large earthquakes: 1897 (8.1 on the Richter scale) and 1950 (8.6).

Assam is in the eastern most projection of the Indian Plate, where it is thrusting underneath the Eurasian Plate creating a subduction zone. It is postulated that due to the northeasterly movement of the Indian plate, the sediment layers of an ancient geocyncline called Tethys (in between Indian and Eurasian Plates) have been pushed upward to form the Himalayas.

It is estimated that the height of the Himalayas is increasing by 4 cm each year. Therefore, Assam possesses a unique geomorphic environment, with plain areas, dissected hills of the South Indian Plateau system and with the Himalayas all around its north, north-east and east.

Geomorphic studies also conclude that the Brahmaputra is a paleo-river, older than the Himalayas, which often crosses higher altitudes in the Himalayas eroding at a greater pace than the increase in the height of the mountain range to sustain its flow. The height of the surrounding regions still increasing forming steep gorges in Arunachal.

The state, being T-shaped, consists of the northern Brahmaputra valley, the middle Karbi and Cachar hills and the southern Barak valley. Assam has a stunning grandeur of dense tracts of tropical forests, interspersed with emerald patchwork quilts of paddy and lush tea gardens enriched by the flow of river Brahmaputra (‘Son of Brahma').

The alluvial plains of the Assam valley (100 km at its widest) enjoy an abundance of natural riches. The state is the largest producer of timber and tea in the country and it has the oldest oil refinery in India. Assam is the only region in the world that has its own variety of tea, called Camellia assamica. Assam tea is grown at elevations near sea level, giving it malt sweetness and an earthy flavor, as opposed to the more floral aroma of highland teas.

Assam also produces crude oil and natural gas. Most of the oilfields of Assam are located in the Upper Assam region of the Brahmaputra Valley.

   
 
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