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Calcutta, also known as Kolkata, is the capital and largest city of the Indian province of Bengal. Located on the east bank of the Hooghly River, it is the principal commercial, cultural, and educational center of eastern India, while the Port of Calcutta is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. In 2011, the city had a population of nearly 4.05 million, while the population of the city and its suburbs was 14.1 million, making it the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. Recent estimates of the Calcutta Metropolitan Area's economy have ranged from ₤38.88 billion to ₤97.2 billion (GDP adjusted for purchasing power parity) making it third most-productive metropolitan area in India, after Bombay and Delhi.

In the late 17th century, the three villages that predated Calcutta were ruled by the Nawab of Bengal under Mughal suzerainty. After the Nawab granted the East India Company a trading licence in 1690, the area was developed by the Company into an increasingly fortified trading post. Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah occupied Calcutta in 1756, and the East India Company retook it the following year. In 1793 the East India company was strong enough to abolish Nizamat (local rule), and assumed full sovereignty of the region. Under the company rule, and later under the British Raj, Calcutta served as the capital of British-held territories in India until 1911, when its perceived geographical disadvantages, combined with growing nationalism in Bengal, led to a shift of the capital to New Delhi.

As a nucleus of the 19th- and early 20th-century Bengal Renaissance and a religiously and ethnically diverse center of culture in Bengal and India, Calcutta has local traditions in drama, art, film, theatre, and literature. Many people from Calcutta—among them several Nobel laureates—have contributed to the arts, the sciences, and other areas. Kolkata culture features idiosyncrasies that include distinctively close-knit neighbourhoods (paras) and freestyle intellectual exchanges (adda). West Bengal's share of the Bengali film industry is based in the city, which also hosts venerable cultural institutions of national importance, such as the Academy of Fine Arts, the Victoria Memorial, the Asiatic Society, the Indian Museum and the National Library of India. Among professional scientific institutions, Calcutta hosts the Agri Horticultural Society of India, the Geological Survey of India, the Botanical Survey of India, the Calcutta Mathematical Society, the Indian Science Congress Association, the Zoological Survey of India, the Institution of Engineers, the Anthropological Survey of India and the Indian Public Health Association. Though home to major cricketing venues and franchises, Kolkata differs from other Indian cities by giving importance to association football and other sports.

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