As the capital city of the state of West Bengal, Calcutta plays an important role as the principal cultural, educational and financial center of eastern India. The city, which is situated on the eastern banks of the Hooghly River, is also the home of India’s oldest and primary trading port.
Spanning an area of 200 square kilometers with a population of 4.5 million residents, Calcutta is the third most densely populated city in India, despite the population taking a 1.8% decrease over the last decade.
The majority of the city’s inhabitants are Bengalis, however there are sizeable communities of Chinese, Anglo-Indian, Armenian, Greek and Persian expats. Bengali is the official state language, however English speakers will have no trouble communicating in Calcutta as English is also widely spoken, especially in customer serving industries.
With an 80% majority, Hinduism is the dominant religion of the city, followed by Islam and a very small number of Christians and Jains.
Like many places in India, Calcutta experiences a typical tropical wet and dry climate. During the summer months, the climate in the city is extremely hot and humid with summer lows of 80˚F (27°C) and highs of 104˚F (40°C) and beyond. The heat and humidity during this time is intensified by the heavy crowds. Just before summer begins, the weather is very arid and dry, and the city experiences dusty spells. Once the wet season has kicked in, the weather changes drastically, with tropical thunderstorms taking place. Calcutta’s winter is very short lived, it lasts for two months between early December and late January and temperatures dip to between 48˚F (9°C) and 51˚F (11°C). The majority of the rainfall takes place between June and September, when the Bay of Bengal monsoon brings in extremely heavy rainfall. It is during this period that the city experiences most of its 1,582 mm annual rainfall.
Permanent residency is granted in two forms, the Overseas Citizen of India (or OCI) card and the Person of Indian Origin (PIO) card. These cards are for former Indian nationals who have given up their citizenship to live in another country since 1950 and wish to return permanently, or for anybody of Indian familial heritage who wishes to settle in the country.
People from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Nepal, China and Sri Lanka are excluded from permanent residency. Alternatively, foreigners who are not of Indian origin may obtain a long term visa, this is valid for six months after which it may be renewed. In order to obtain a long term permit, expats must provide the relevant Indian embassy with four passport photographs, a passport, evidence of residence in the form of a rent agreement, bank statement or utilities bill and a registration fee of 100 INR. The application form along with more detailed advice can be found online.