The name Sundarban can be literally translated as "beautiful jungle" or "beautiful forest" in the Bengali language and derives, it is thought, from the Sundari trees. The Sundarbans is the largest single area of tidal salt tolerant mangrove forest in the world.
The forest lies in the vast delta on the Bay of Bengal formed by the super confluence of the Padma, Brahmaputra and Meghna rivers across Saiyan southern Bangladesh. The forest covers 10,000 sq.km. of which about 6,000 are in Bangladesh. It became a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997. The Sundarbans is estimated to cover an area of about 4,110 km², of which about 1,700 km² is occupied by waterways in the forms of river, canals and creeks which intersect the mudflats and islands and which make boat access imperative.
The area is the home of the endangered Royal Bengal Tiger, as well as numerous species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes. The fertile soils of the delta have been intensively cultivated for food crops for hundreds of years and make a massive contribution to the region's and the country's staple food production.
This part of the world often falls victim to cyclones in the rainy season causing devastating flooding and the Sundarbans provides a degree of flood protection for the millions of inhabitants in and around Khulna and Mongla. So spectacular is the vastness and ecological importance of the Sundarbans that the region has been promoted among the finalists in the New 7 Wonders of Nature.
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