Kolkata is the capital and the largest city of the Indian state of West Bengal. Located on the banks of the Hooghly River, the city is approximately 80 kilometres west of the border with Bangladesh. It is the primary business, commercial, and financial hub of Eastern India and the main port of communication for North-East India. According to the 2011 Indian census, Kolkata is the seventh-most populous city in India, with a population of 4.5 million residents within the city limits, and a population of over 14.1 million residents in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area. It is the third-most populous metropolitan area in India. In 2021, Kolkata metropolitan area crossed 15 million registered voters. The Port of Kolkata is India's oldest operating port and its sole major riverine port. Kolkata is regarded as the cultural capital of India.
In the late 17th century, the three villages that predated Calcutta were ruled by the Nawab of Bengal under Mughal suzerainty. After the Nawab granted the East India Company a trading licence in 1690, the area was developed by the Company into an increasingly fortified trading post known as Fort William.