The Sundarbans (Bengali সুন্দরবন, Shundorbôn) is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The name Sundarban can be literally translated as "beautiful jungle" or "beautiful forest" in the Bengali language (Sundar, "beautiful" and ban, "forest" or "jungle"). The name may have been derived from the Sundari trees that are found in Sundarbans in large numbers. Alternatively, it has been proposed that the name is a corruption of Samudraban (Bengali: সমুদ্রবন Shomudrobôn "Sea Forest") or Chandra-bandhe (name of a primitive tribe). But the generally accepted view is the one associated with Sundari trees.
The Sundarbans, as we know it today, has a fairly recent history. Much of the present tidal delta only stabilized as late as 5th – 7th century AD. When India collided and penetrated into the Eurasian plate in the middle Eocene, all of what later became the largest delta in the world, covering 65,000 km2, lay below sea level. The formation of the lower delta plain started during the middle Holocene and most of the presently occupied area of 10,017 km2 in India and Bangladesh was formed over the course of the last 6,000 years. The Bengal Delta was originally occupied by vast stretches of grassland filled with saline marshes and tropical wetlands containing one of the worlds' largest stretches of biodiversity-rich forests – the Bengalian Rainforest. These forests were one of the richest wildlife areas of the world, holding elephants, tiger, gaur, leopards, wild buffaloes, three species of rhinoceros, seven species of deer and a wide variety of other fauna. The first human settlers, who may have been the "Veddoids’, appear to have arrived in the delta by 5th Century BC, though the first archeological evidence of human civilization dates to around 400-300 BC. Civilization flourished in the delta during the reign of Asoka (273-232 BC) and in subsequent Hindu periods. The indigenous inhabitants were the ‘Pods’ and...
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