Guwahati is a major city in eastern India, with a population of 818,809 (2001 census). The largest city in the North-East Region of India, it is considered by some to be the "gateway" to the region. Dispur, the capital of the Indian state of Assam, is located within the city. Guwahati is one of the most rapidly growing cities in India; during the past few decades it has experienced expansion and also a steep rise in population. According to a survey done by a UK media outlet, Guwahati is among the 100 fastest growing cities of the world, and is the 5th fastest growing among Indian cities.
The city sits between the southern bank of the Brahmaputra river and the foothills of the Shillong plateau, with LGB International Airport to the west, and the town of Narengi to the east. The city is gradually being expanded to the northern bank of the Brahmaputra (see North Guwahati). The Guwahati Municipal Corporation, the city's local government, administers an area of 216 km˛, while the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority, the planning and development has for an area of 340 km˛.
It is a major commercial and educational center of eastern India and is home to world class institutions such as the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati. The city is also a major center for cultural activities and sports in the North Eastern Region and for the administrative and political activities of Assam. The city is also an important hub for transportation in the North East Region.
As a river port, Guwahati has traditionally been an important administrative and trading center. The name Guwahati is derived from two Assamese words: 'guwa' (areca nut) and 'haat' (market place). The name used to be spelled as Gowhatty (pre-colonial and colonial), standardized to Gauhati (colonial-British), which was then changed to the present form in the late 1980s to conform to the local pronunciation.