Darjeeling District is the northern most district of the state of West Bengal in eastern India in the foothills of the Himalayas. The district is famous for its beautiful hill stations (often referred to as the Queen of the Hills) and Darjeeling tea. Darjeeling is the district headquarters. Kalimpong, Kurseong and Siliguri, three other major towns in the district, are the subdivisional headquarters of the district. Mirik, another town of the district, has been developed as a lake resort since the late 1970s.
Geographically, the district can be divided into two broad divisions, the hills and the plains. The entire hilly region of the district comes under the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, a semi-autonomous administrative body under the state government of West Bengal. This body covers the three hill subdivisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong. The foothills of Darjeeling Himalayas, which comes under the Siliguri subdivision, is known as the Terai. The district is bounded on the north by Sikkim, on the south by Kishanganj district of Bihar state, on the east by Jalpaiguri district and on the west by Nepal. Darjeeling district has a length from north to south of 18 miles (29 km), and a breadth from east to west of 16 miles (26 km). As of 2011 it is the second least populous district of West Bengal (out of 19), after Dakshin Dinajpur.
During the 1980s, the Gorkha National Liberation Front led an intensive and often violent campaign for the creation of a separate Gorkhaland state within India, across the Nepali-speaking areas in northern West Bengal. The movement reached its peak around 1986-1988 but ended with the establishment of the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council in 1988.
The hill areas of Darjeeling enjoyed some measure of autonomy under the Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council. However, the aspirations of the people of Darjeeling and the surrounding areas were not fulfilled and the demand for full statehood within India has emerged once again, with the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha as its chief proponent. The Gorkhaland Territorial Administration replaced the DGHC in August 2012 after the GJM signed an agreement with the government.
The official language of all of West Bengal is Bengali, and Nepali is also recognised as official language in Darjeeling and Kurseon sub-divisions of the district of Darjeeling (but not the rest of the district). The major languages spoken in Darjeeling district are Nepali (which is spoken by more than 60% of the population in Darjeeling Hill subdivision and 15% in Kalimpong and Kurseon subdivision ), Bengali and Hindi are predominant in Terai region or Plain Siliguri subdivision. Other languages spoken are Lepcha, Tibetan, Sunuwar, Limbu, Rai languages, Yakkha, Tamang, Denzongke, Rajbonshi, and Bijori (a Munda language).
In 1986, Darjeeling district became home to Neora Valley National Park, which has an area of 88 km2 (34.0 sq mi). It is also home to Singalila National Park, which was set up in 1986 as a wildlife sanctuary and converted to a national park in 1992. It has an area of 79 km2 (30.5 sq mi)
Darjeeling district also has three wildlife sanctuaries: Jorepokhri, Mahananda, and Senchal.