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The word "Punjab" is made up of two Persian words 'Panj' and 'Aab'. Panj means five and Aab means water. This name was probably  given to this land possibly in an era when this region came into close contact with Persia. The Punjab was known as land of five rivers because of the five rivers that ran through it. They are Indus, Ravi, Beas, Sutlaj and Ghaggar. Prior to Persian period this region was known by different names at different times. Probably, at the height of its glory it was known as Sapta Sindhu, land of the seven rivers, namely Sindhu (Indus), Vitasta (Jehlum), Asuhi (chenab), Purshin (Ravi), Vipasa (Beas), Satadru (Sutleg) and Saruri (Saraswati). The last one is a dried up stream now and its traces are found in the present seasonal streams that flow near Pehowa in Haryana. During Greek occupation, the territory had shrunk into the area covering the five rivers.

 
In 1947 when India was partitioned, the larger half of Punjab went to Pakistan. In 1966 the Indian smaller half was further divided into three: Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

According to 1991 census, its population came to 20.19 million. Punjab, thus represents about 1.6 percent of the area and 2.39 percent of the population of the country. The latitudinal and longitudinal extends the Punjab are from 29o 32' to 32o 32'N and 73o 55' to 76o 50'E. Punjab is bounded  on the west by Pakistan, on the North by Jammu and Kashmir, on the north east by Himachal Pradesh and on the south by Haryana and Rajasthan. Physically, the state may be divided into two parts; sub-Shivalik Strip and Sutlebj- Ghaggar Plain. The Sub Shivalik strip covers the upper portion of Ropar, Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur districts. The Sutlej- Ghaggar plain embraces the other districts of the Punjab. For administrative purposes it is divided into three division and 45 sub-division. There are 12,342 villages and 134 towns in the state.


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