Provinces of British India, also known as Presidency towns, were the administrative offices and units of the territories of India which were under the sovereignty of the British East India Company and later the British Government of India between the period 1612 and 1947. After the great revolt of 1857, the British Empire in India acquired dominance and initiated direct rule under the British Crown. During the 19th century and 20th century, the British Government comprised of 8 provinces which were managed and administered by a Lieutenant Governor or a Governor. The 8 major provinces of British India included Burma, Bengal, Madras, Bombay, United Provinces, Central Provinces and Berar, Punjab and Assam. In the period between 1905 and 1912, a province of Eastern Bengal and Assam existed during the partition of Bengal. Later a new Lieutenant Governor's province of Bihar and Orissa was formed as well.
Moreover there were some minor provinces of British India were well which were under the administration of a Chief Commissioner. These included North West Frontier Province, British Baluchistan, Coorg, Ajmer Merwara, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. At the time of Indian independence in the year 1947, the British administration consisted of 17 provinces of British India, namely, Ajmer Merwara Kekri, Baluchistan, Bihar, Coorg, Orissa, United Provinces of Agra and Oudh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bombay Province, Assam, Delhi Province, North West Frontier Province, Central Provinces and Berar, Panth Piploda, Sindh, Madras Province, Punjab and Bengal Province.
During the Partition of India into the Dominion of Pakistan and the Union of India, 12 provinces, including Assam, Ajmer Merwara Kekri, Bombay, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Bihar, Central Provinces and Berar, Panth Piploda, Coorg, Orissa, Delhi, Madras and the United Provinces, became part of the Indian Union. The 3 provinces of Sindh, North West Frontier and Baluchistan became a part of Pakistan. The 2 provinces of Punjab and Bengal were divided between India and Pakistan.
After the adoption of the new Constitution of India in the year 1950, the provinces in India were replaced by restructured and redrawn states and union territories. In 1956, the province of East Bengal in Pakistan was renamed as East Pakistan and later became the independent country of Bangladesh in the year 1971.
(Last Updated on : 21-05-2012)