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|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Inscription||1997 (21st Session)|
|* Name as inscribed on World Heritage List.|
** Region as classified by UNESCO.
The Sundarbans (Bengali: সুন্দরবন Shundorbôn) is the largest single block of tidal halophytic mangrove forest in the world. The nameSundarban can be literally translated as "beautiful jungle" or "beautiful forest" in the Bengali language (Sundar, "beautiful" and bans, "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 forest lies at the feet of the Ganges and is spread across areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal, India, forming the seaward fringe of thedelta. The seasonally-flooded Sundarbans freshwater swamp forests lie inland from the mangrove forests. The forest covers 10,000 km2 of which about 6,000 are in Bangladesh. It became inscribed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1997, but while the Bangladeshi and Indian portions constitute the same continuous ecotope, these are separately listed in the UNESCO world heritage list as the Sundarbans andSundarbans National Park, respectively. The Sundarbans is intersected by a complex network of tidal waterways, mudflats and small islandsof salt-tolerant mangrove forests. The area is known for the eponymous Royal Bengal Tiger (Panthera tigris tigris), as well as numerous fauna including species of birds, spotted deer, crocodiles and snakes. It is estimated that there are now 500 Bengal tigers and about 30,000 spotted deer in the area. Sundarbans was designated a Ramsar site on May 21, 1992. The fertile soils of the delta have been subject to intensive human use for centuries, and the ecoregion has been mostly converted to intensive agriculture, with few enclaves of forest remaining. The remaining forests, together with the Sundarbans mangroves, are important habitat for the endangered tiger. Additionally, the Sundarbans serves a crucial function as a protective flood barrier for the millions of inhabitants in and around Kolkata (Calcutta) against the result of cyclone activity.