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Dacca

Dacca, a city and district of Bengal. The district, containing about 2,797 square miles, consists for the most part of mountainous land and of level plain intersected by a network of rivers and watercourses, forming in the wet season almost an inland sea, dotted here and there by island farms protected by dykes, and presenting features familiar to those who know the Low Countries. About two-thirds of the area are under cultivation, producing among other things indigo, rice, jute, cotton, and sugar-cane in such profusion that the district has obtained the name of the "granary of Bengal." It has extensive forests well stocked with elephants and tigers and other wild animals, and its inhabitants are noted as adventurous boatmen. Owing to the excessive moisture, the country is fertile in dysentery, goitre, fever, with occasional visitations of cholera and small-pox. Earthquakes, too, are not uncommon. Of the population, which exceeds two millions, about sixty per cent. are Mahometan. The city, which is on the bank of a small river uniting the Ganges with the Brahmapootra, lies about 150 miles N.E. of Calcutta. From 1610 to 1704 it was the seat of the Mahometan government of Bengal, and the ruins of mosques and other buildings in the neighbourhood bear witness to its former extent. It once had a great renown for its muslins, but English manufactures beat it out of the field, and from a population of 200,000 at the beginning of the present century it fell to 68,000 in 1838. By reason of its command of the waterways of the delta it is well situated for commerce, and it now has good schools, a hospital, and waterworks.

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