The exact origin of the word Bangla (Bengali) and Bongo (Bengal) is unknown, though the word is believed to be derived from the Dravidian-speaking tribe called Bang that settled in the area around the year 1000 BC. It could also be derived from the word Vanga, which was a kingdom in the Bengal region during the times of Mahabharata as mentioned in Sanskrit literature.
About 20,000 people live on chars. Chars are temporary islands formed by the deposition of sediments eroded off the banks of the Ganges in West Bengal which often disappear in the monsoon season. They are made of very fertile soil. The inhabitants of chars are not recognized by the Government of West Bengal on the grounds that it is not known whether they are Bengalis or Bangladeshi refugees. Consequently, no identification documents are issued to char-dwellers who cannot benefit from health care, barely survive due to very poor sanitation and are prevented from immigrating to the mainland to find jobs when they have turned 14. On a particular char it was reported that 13% of women died at childbirth.