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India By State - Assam - State Overview

State Overview

Economic Snapshot

Capital Dispur
Area (sq km) 78 438
Population (Census 2001, million) 26.7
Literacy Rate (%) 63.3
NSDP (US$ billion) 15.03
NSDP Growth (1999-2000 to 2008-09) 9.09% CAGR
Per Capita Income (US$) 568.1 (2008-09)
National Highways Length (km) 2836
Rail Length (km) 2435.1
International Airports Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi, Guwahati
Domestic Airports Guwahati, Tezpur, Jorhat, Dubrugarh, Silchar and North Lakhimpur
Key Industries Tea, Minerals and Mining, Agriculture and Horticulture, Food processing, Tourism, Traditional cottage industry, and Sericulture

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Located in the south of the Eastern Himalayas Assam is often referred to as the gateway to North East India. Popularly known as the 'land of the red river and blue hills' the state covers an area of 78 438 sq km.

The state has 27 administrative districts, the city of Dispur is the capital however Guwahati is the largest city.

Assam is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination especially wild-life tourism due to its abundant natural wildlife. The state also has two registered world-heritage sites at Karziranga and Manas.

Assam is endowed with petroleum, natural gas, coal, limestone and other minor minerals such as magnetic quartzite, kaolin, sillimanites, clay and feldspar.



The total population of Assam, as per census 2001, was 26.7 million. Males make up 13.8 million of the population and females 12.9 million with the sex ratio at 925 females per 1000 men.

The states literacy rate is slightly below the national average and stands at 63.3 %, the male literacy rate is a healthy 71.3% however the female literacy rate is quite low and stands at 54.6%.


Population density (persons per sq km) 340
Total Population (million) 26.7
Male Population (million) 13.8
Female Population (million) 12.9
Population growth rate 1991-2001 (%) 18.9
Sex ratio (females per 1,000 males) 935
Literacy Rate (per cent) 63.3
Male (%) 71.3
Female (%) 54.6

The majority of the population, 64%, practise Hinduism. Islam is the second largest religion with 30.9% of the population being Muslim. The rest of the population are a mix of Christianity, Sikhism, Animism and Buddhism.

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The state of Assam in 2008-09 at current prices had a GSDP of US16.85 billion. The GSDP grew at a CAGR of 9.45% between 1999-2000 and 2007-08. The biggest contributor to the states GSDP was the tertiary sector with a contribution of 50.2% followed by the primary sector 37.5%. The secondary sector contributed 12.4% in 2008-09 vis--vis 8.1% in 1999-2000; the growth is driven by registered and un-registered manufacturing.

The state's NSDP in 2008-09 at current prices was US$15.03 billion with a growth of 9.09 at CAGR between 1999-2000 and 2008-09.

Assam produces 51 per cent of the tea produced in India and about one-sixth of the tea produced in the world and so the tea industry is the largest industry in the state. Other key industries include tea, coal, oil, gas, limestone and cement, Agriculture and horticulture, food processing, tourism, traditional cottage industry, sericulture.

According to the Reserve Bank of India, FDI inflows from April 2000 to October 2009 amounted to US$ 55.03 million. As of December 2008, outstanding investment in the state was US$ 8.9 billion.

Electricity and manufacturing sectors accounted for about 32 per cent each of the state's total outstanding investment.

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Physical Infrastructure


Assam accounts for 60 per cent of the total road length in the Northeast with over 41 347 km of road. All the major towns and cities in the state are connected by National highways that cover 2 836 km. The Assam state transport corporation is responsible for the maintenance of the roads in the state. The state government is preparing to launch a US$ 200 million project for the improvement of the highways and major district roads.

Inland Waterways

Assam is home to the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers, with a combined navigable length of around 1,000 km. There are seven port locations in the state for import and export to the Kolkata and Haldia ports.

The Directorate of Inland Water Transport of Assam operates water transport services on the rivers Brahmaputra and Barak on commercial basis. These services are used for the transportation of passengers and goods across the state and to West Bengal. In 2008, the cargo handling capacity of the fleet was nearly 10,000 million tonnes.

Container Corporation of India Limited (CONCOR) operates an inland container depot (ICD) at Amingaon, 10 km from Guwahati. Two bonded warehouses of CONCOR along with a private warehouse (total area of 6,400 sq m) operate from the ICD.


Assam has one international airport and six domestic airports situated around the state. The international airport at Guwahati is undergoing development with plans to make it one of the major international airports in India, connecting Southeast Asia with India. The development will include an A380 ready runway and jet ways in the terminal.


Assam, in 2008, had a total rail length of over 2435.1 km. The state is also home to the headquarters of the North-East Frontier Railways. All the major towns and villages in the state are well connected through the railway network.


Assam has a total installed power generation capacity of 471.3 MW, which comprised 446.8 MW under state utilities and 24.5 MW under the private sector.

53 percent of the capacity owned by the state was of gas-power plants, 13 per cent of coal-based power plants, 22 per cent of hydroelectric power plants and 12 percent of thermal-based power plants.

The power infrastructure is undergoing mass development plans with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) having sanctioned US$ 200 million under the Assam power sector enhancement investment programme. Other than this the ADB will provide a grant of US$ 1 million for capacity development of the power-sector utilities in the state.


Assam telecom infrastructure is still under development; currently the state has approximately 269 telephone exchanges with over 120 000 working connections. In 2009 there were 7.3 million cellular subscribers and 31 456 internet/broadband subscribers in 2009.

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Social Infrastructure


The literacy rate for Assam was, as per 2001, 6.3 per cent. The male literacy rate was an above national average of 71.3 per cent but the female literacy rate was a low 54.6 per cent. The state is home to five universities, three engineering colleges, 22 law colleges, seven medical colleges, 348 arts, sciences and commerce colleges and 23 industrial training and academia.

The state government has taken many steps to try and encourage setting up of various educational complexes specifically for skill development.


The health infrastructure in the state is under going development, the state government has launched a series of health packages including a US$30 million scheme to try and do away with the traditional gender bias prevalent in the state. The health infrastructure of the state compromises of 22 hospitals, 610 primary health centres, 331 dispensaries, 5 109 sub-centres and 10 community health centres.

Health Indicators

Birth rate (per 1000 population) 24.3
Death rate (per thousand persons) 8.6
Infant Mortality rate (per thousand live births) 64.0


Industrial Infrastructure

Assam's industrial infrastructure is on the rise with more than 8 industrial parks already being constructed and others being planned. In 2008 alone more than 144 units began operating in the new industrial growth centres with a total investment of over US$ 4.3 billion, offering direct employment to 7063 persons and indirect employment to 22670 persons. The industrial parks already existing in Assam include a software technology park, food processing park, agri-export zone for ginger, Biotech park, Export promotion industrial park, industrial growth centres, integrated infrastructure development (IID) centres, and Border trade centres.

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More Information on Assam

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