Bihar is a state in eastern India. Bihar is the 12th largest state in terms of geographical size at 38,202 sq mi (99,200 km²), and 3rd largest by population. Close to 85 percent of the population lives in villages. Almost 58 per cent of Biharis are below the age of 25, which is the highest proportion in India.
Bihar lies mid-way between the humid West Bengal in the east and the sub humid Uttar Pradesh in the west which provides it with a transitional position in respect of climate, economy and culture. It is bounded by the country of Nepal to the north and by Jharkhand to the south. The Bihar plain is divided into two parts by the river Ganga which flows through the middle from west to east. Bihar has notified forest area of 6,764.14 km², which is 7.1 per cent of its geographical area. Hindi and Urdu are the official languages of the state, whilst the majority of the people speak one of the Bihari languages — Angika, Bhojpuri, Magadhi or Maithili.
Ancient Bihar (which consisted of Anga (East Bihar), Videha (North Bihar), Magadha (South Bihar) and Vaishali (North Bihar)) was a center of power, learning and culture in ancient and classical India. From Magadha arose India's first greatest empire, the Maurya empire as well as one of the world's most widely adhered-to religions, Buddhism. Magadha empires, notably under the Maurya and Gupta dynasties, unified large parts of South Asia under a central rule. Its capital Patna, earlier known as Pataliputra, was an important center of Indian civilization. Nalanda was a centre of learning established by the 5th century CE in Bihar.
Today, Bihar lags behind the other Indian states in human and economic development terms, Economists and social scientists claim that this is a direct result of the skewed policies of the central government, such as the freight equalisation policy, its apathy towards Bihar, lack of Bihari sub-nationalism (resulting in no spokesperson for the state), and the Permanent Settlement of 1793 by the British East India Company. The current state government has however made significant strides in improving governance. The improved governance has led to an economic revival in the state through increased investment in infrastructure, better health care facilities, greater emphasis on education, and a reduction in crime and corruption. Indianand global business and economic leaders feel that Bihar now has good opportunity for sustainable economic development, and as such have shown interest in investing in the state
A part of Bihar was called "Magadha" in ancient times. From Magadha arose two traditions, Jainism and Buddhism. The greatest Indian empire, the Maurya empire, originated from Magadha, with its capital at Patliputra (modern Patna) in 325 BC. The Mauryan Emperor, Ashoka, who was born in Patliputra ( Patna ) is believed to be one of the greatest rulers in the history of India and the world. After seeing all the carnage that war causes he was placed on the path of Lord Buddha by his Brahmin spiritual guide Manjushri. According to indologist A.L. Basham, the author of the book The Wonder that was India,
The age in which true history appeared in India was one of great intellectual and spiritual ferment. Mystics and sophists of all kinds roamed through the Ganga Valley, all advocating some form of mental discipline and asceticism as a means to salvation; but the age of the Buddha, when many of the best minds were abandoning their homes and professions for a life of asceticism, was also a time of advance in commerce and politics. It produced not only philosophers and ascetics, but also merchant princes and men of action.