The Bengal tiger is named after the Bengal region in southern Asia, an area that overlaps with the tiger's current geographic range. Bengal tigers once roamed throughout the entire Indian subcontinent, but now the largest population is within India, with the second-largest population in Bangladesh.

Historically, Bengal was the river delta formed by the Ganges and Brahmaputra. The region is now divided, with Bangladesh to the east and India to the west. Although Bengal tigers are named after and are most populous in that region, they can also be found in small pockets of Bhutan, Nepal and China. They are considered endangered across their geographic range.