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India By State - Bihar - State Overview

State Overview

Economic Snapshot

Capital Patna
Area (sq km) 94 163
Population (Census 2001, million) 82 998 509
Language Hindi
Literacy Rate (%) 47%
Male literacy 60%
Female literacy 33.1%
Sex Ratio (per 1000 males) 919 females per 1000 males

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Bihar is a landlocked state, located in eastern India. Bihar is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at 94,163 kmē, and 3rd largest by population. Close to 85 percent of the population lives in villages. Almost 58 per cent of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India.

Bihar is traversed by several rivers. It is drained by the Ganges River, including northern tributaries Gandak and Koshi originating in the Nepal Himalayas and the Bagmati originating in the Kathmandu Valley that regularly flood parts of the Bihar plains.

Bihar lies mid-way between the humid West Bengal in the east and the sub humid Uttar Pradesh in the west which provides it with a transitional position in respect of climate, economy and culture. It is bounded by the country of Nepal to the north and by Jharkhand to the south. The Bihar plain is divided into two parts by the river Ganga which flows through the middle from west to east. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 kmē, which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area.

Bihar is mildly cold in the winter (the lowest temperatures being around 5 to 10 degrees Celsius; 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit). Winter months are December and January. It is hot in the summer (with average highs around 35-40 Celsius; 95-105 Fahrenheit). From April to mid June are the hot months.

The monsoon months of June, July, August, and September see good rainfall. October & November and February & March have pleasant climate.

Bihar is, for administrative purposes, divided in to 38 districts grouped in 9 territorial divisions:

  1. Patna Division-
    Bhojpur, Buxar, Kaimur, Patna, Rohtas, Nalanda
  2. Tirhut Division-
    East Champaran, Muzaffarpur, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Vaishali, West Champaran
  3. Saran Division-
    Gopalganj, Saran, Siwan
  4. Darbhanga Division-
    Begusarai, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur
  5. Kosi Division-
    Madhepura, Saharsa, Supaul
  6. Purnia Division-
    Araria, Katihar, Kishanganj, Purnia
  7. Bhagalpur Division-
    Banka, Bhagalpur
  8. Munger Division-
    Jamui, Khagaria, Munger, Lakhisarai, Sheikhpura
  9. Magadh Division-
    Arwal, Aurangabad, Gaya, Jehanabad, Nawada

Nalanda was a centre of learning established by the 5th century BC in Bihar, India. Hindi is the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages (dialects of Hindi) - Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi or Maithili.

Ancient Bihar (regionally knowns as Ariga (East Bihar), Mithila (North Bihar) and Magadha (South Bihar)) was a center of power, learning and culture in ancient and classical India. From Magadha arose India's first greatest empire, the Maurya Empire as well as one of the world's greatest pacifist religions, Buddhism. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule. Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important center of Indian civilization. It is the one of the oldest cities in the world.

Today, Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in human and economic development terms, whilst ethnic Biharis living in other states of India are victims of racist hate crimes and prejudice. Economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the skewed policies of the central government, such as the freight equalization policy, its apathy towards Bihar, lack of Bihari sub-nationalism (resulting in no spokesperson for the state) and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company. The current state government has however made significant strides in improving governance. The improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption. Indian and global business and economic leaders feel that Bihar now has good opportunity for sustainable economic development, and as such have shown interest in investing in the state.

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Bihar is India's third most populated state with a population of 82 998 509, of which 58 percent are under the age of 25. The majority of Bihar's population lives in rural areas. Hinduism is the largest practiced religion with 83.2 percent of the population being Hindu, 16.5 percent of the population follow Islam and 0.5 percent are made up by other religions. Bihar has attracted a lot of migrants and settlers over the years ranging from Bengalis, Turks, Persians, Afghans and Hindu Punjabi's.

  • Population: 82,998,509 (2001 census)
  • Density: 880 per sq
  • Urban Population:
  • Literacy Rate: 47, 53% (2001 census)
  • Male Literacy: 59.7%
  • Female Literacy: 33.1%
  • Sex Ratio: females/ 1000 males: 919
  • Decadal Growth Rate:
  • Religion(s): Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism and others


In 2000, the most industrial and mineral rich section of the State, the southern half, was taken away from Bihar to form the new State of Jharkhand. This was devastating to the economy base of Bihar, and resulted in a considerable drop in the tax base. It also left agriculture as the main economic activity. The new Bihar State's agriculture production is still just slightly over half of what it had been before the division.

The state is one of the most underdeveloped of all the Indian States. It's per capital yearly income of $303 is less than half of India's average. Close to half the people live below the poverty level although the average for India as a whole is closer to one quarter.

The economy of Bihar is mainly based on agricultural and trading activities. The soil of Bihar is extremely fertile which makes it ideal for agriculture.

Bihar is the first largest producer of vegetables and second largest producer of fruits in the country. Production of maize, sugarcane, litchi, makhana, mango, vegetables, and aromatic rice is also carried out. Bihar is the largest producer of honey in the country.

The major agro based industries of Bihar are of rice, sugar, and edible oil.

The rice mills are located at Bauxer Karbisganch in Purnia district, Araria. Sugar mills are located at Banmankhi in Purnia District, Bauxer, Madora in Saran District, Samastipur and Bihata in Patna District.

The edible oil mills are located at Araria, Banmankhi in Purnia District, Bauxer, Lakhisarai at Munger district. The textile industries are at Bhagalpur, Gaya, Nalanda, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Siwan and Patna.

Sugar occupies an important role in the states economy over 4% of total cultivable land is under sugarcane.

It is estimated that about 0.5 million farmers and their dependents are engaged in the cultivation of sugarcane and another 0.5 million unskilled and skilled personnel, including trained technologists are engaged in the sugar industry in the state.

The State has received investments worth US$ 1.1 billion in the sector, representing an addition of crushing capacity of 1 lakh tonnes/day and a distillery capacity of 235 KL/day, with direct and indirect employment potential of 0.21 million. Another industry which majorly contributes to the development of the state is the tobacco industry. Bihar is the sixth largest tobacco producer in the country.

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Physical Infrastructure


Bihar has a total road length of 81,655 Kms; out of which 77.5% roads are village roads, the remaining being National and State Highways.Bihar has 77 km of road length per 100 sq km and 50% of roads are surfaced.Under the National Highway Development Project 3,890 kilometres of National Highways have been identified for up-gradation to 4-lane highways under BOT providing additional corridors to Nepal and Assam.

Civil Aviation

The state has five domestic airports at Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Raxoul and Jogbani.

  • 39 district Head quarters have air strips/aerodromes.
  • Small Air taxi/charter services are available at Patna.

The state government has plans to set up Air Cargo Complex in Patna that will be promoted by Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority and Airport Authority of India and cost around US$ 1.6 million.


The railways are well developed with the railway route density (route kilometres per 1000 sq km) in the state being 30.15, compared to 19.09 for All-India.

Main rail junctions are at Patna, Gaya, Muzaffarpur, Katihar and Samastipur

Over US$ 1.4 billion of estimated investment has been planned for the modernisation of railways in Bihar - including gauge conversion, doubling of lines, and electrification.

Various prominent link lines like Muzaffarpur-Samastipur-Barauni-Katihar and Muzaffarpur-Chapra-Siwan have been converted into broad gauge.


The River Ganga between Allahabad-Haldia (1620 km) has been declared as National Waterway-1 and is being developed for navigation by Inland waterways. Authority of India. Patna is planned to be a permanent terminal and cargo handling facilities are being developed accordingly.

The National Inland Navigation Institute has been set up in Patna to train vessel crews.

Post and Telecommunications

Bihar figures in the top five states in the country in terms of revenue per Direct Exchange Line (DEL)..

  • Tele-density of 70 Telephones per thousand of population comprising all kinds of connections-fixed lines, GSM and CDMA connections
  • Since March 2009, the total numbers of Exchanges were 1235 and now there are 21.1 million Telephone connections in Bihar, there being 4 service providers.
  • The State has 9057 Post Offices.


After bifurcation, 70% of the generation capacity of erstwhile Bihar has gone to the jurisdiction of the state of Jharkhand, but 70% of the load is left with present Bihar.

  • Bihar's power generating capacities stand at 590.4 MW of capacity in thermal plants in Barauni (320 MW) and Muzaffarpur (220MW) with a limited amount of power (25 MW) available from the hydel power sources.
  • With 41% of its villages electrified, power is being viewed as a focus area with new projects in the pipeline involving a total estimated cost of US$ 4.4 billion with a targeted capacity of 4 820 MW.

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Social Infrastructure

Education Infrastructure

Historically, Bihar has been a major centre of learning, home to the ancient universities of Nalanda (established in 450 CE) and Vikramshila (established in 783 AD) Unfortunately, that tradition of learning which had its origin from the time of Buddha or perhaps earlier, was lost during the medieval period when it is believed that marauding armies of the invaders destroyed these centers of learning.

The state is focusing on filling up faculty vacancies in elementary and secondary schools as well creating more positions in colleges and universities. It has also decided to provide single window clearance to facilitate private sector participation in institutions of higher education.

Bihar established several new education institutes between 2006-2008. BIT Mesra started its Patna extension centre in September 2006. On 8 August, 2008 IIT of India was inaugurated in Patna with 109 students from all over India. National Institute of Pharmaceutical Education and Research NIPER is being set up in Hajipur. On 4 August, 2008, National Institute of Fashion Technology, Patna was established as 9th NIFT of India. Chanakya National Law University a law university and Chandragupt Institute of Management a management institute was established in later half of 2008. Steps to revive the ancient Nalanda University is being taken for which countries like Japan, Korea and China have also taken initiatives. The plan is to create the world's best university in the place which introduced the concept of university to the world.

The absence rate of teachers in public schools in Bihar is 37.8%. Bihar e-Governance Services & Technologies (BeST) along with the Government of Bihar has initiated a unique program to establish a Centre of excellence called Bihar Knowledge Centre, a finishing school to equip students with the latest skills and customized short term training programs at an affordable cost. The centre aims to attract every youth of the state to hone up their technical, professional and soft skills and prepare them for the present industry requirement/ job market.

Medical Infrastructure

There are about 121 Hospitals, 1641 Primary Health Centre, 70 Community Centre and 1000 Dispensaries/Clinics in Bihar.

Penetration of medical facilities in the state is lower compared to the rest of the country due to its huge population needs. The lack of medical facilities is highlighted by the statistic that there is one doctor per 20 000 people.

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Industrial Infrastructure

All cities and towns of the state are directly accessible on International Subscriber Dialling (ISD). There has been a proposal to provide value added services like Radio Paging, Cellular Telephone, E-mail Services etc. in the State. Opportunities exist in providing value added services as well as in expansion of basic telecommunication facilities.


Bihar State Financial Corporation (BSFC) is the main state level institution providing term lending facilities to industrial entrepreneurs. Banks have also shown increasing interest in term lending to industrial units. BSFC will be restructured and strengthened to meet the growing financial and mercantile needs of entrepreneurs. The Corporation also undertakes the appraisal of projects coming up in the state with a view to raising money from the capital market (Public/Rights Issues).


Flora and fauna

The state has a rich cultural heritage, many religious places, and historical monuments in order to attract domestic and foreign tourists. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 kmē, which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area.

The sub Himalayan foothill of Someshwar and Dun ranges in Champaran district another belt of moist deciduous forests. These also consist of scrub, grass and reeds. Here the rainfall is above 1,600 mm and thus promotes luxuriant Sal forests in the favoured areas. The most important trees are Shorea Robusta (Sal), Shisham, Cedrela Toona, Khair, and Semal. This type of forests also exists in Saharsa district and Purnia district Shorea Robusta (sal), Dispyros melanoxylon (kendu), Boswellia serrata (salai), Terminalia tomentose (Asan), Terminalia bellayoica (Bahera), Terminalia Arjuna (Arjun), Pterocarpus Marsupium (Paisar), Madhuca indica (Mahua) are the common flora across the forest of Bihar.

Bihar is one of the oldest inhabited places in the world, with a history spanning 3,000 years. The rich culture and heritage of Bihar is evident from the innumerable ancient monuments spread throughout the state. Bihar is visited by scores of tourists from all over the world with around 6,000,000) tourists visiting Bihar every year. In earlier days, tourism in the region was purely based educational tourism, as Bihar was home of some prominent ancient universities like Nalanda University & Vikramasila University.

As previous, Bihar is one of the most sacred place for various religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Islam. Hindus are a majority in the state. Most of festivals are Hindu festivals.

Mahabodhi Temple, a Buddhist shrine and UNESCO World Heritage Site is also situated in Bihar. Mahatma Gandhi Setu, Patna, is the longest river bridge in the world.

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More Information on Bihar

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