India, officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous liberal democracy in the world. India has a coastline of over seven thousand kilometres, bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east. India borders Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal and Bhutan to the north-east; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia.
Home to the Indus Valley Civilization, a hub of ancient trade routes, and the realm of vast empires, the Indian subcontinent has a heritage that includes the decimal number system, the Buddhist art of Ajanta, and the Taj Mahal. Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Zoroastrianism, arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped India's variegated culture. Colonised by the British East India Company in the 18th century and directly administered by Great Britain starting the mid-19th century, India became a modern nation-state in 1947 after a struggle for independence marked by widespread use of nonviolent resistance as a means of social protest.
With the world's fourth largest economy in purchasing power and the second fastest growing large economy, India has made rapid progress in the last decade, most notably in information technology. A declared nuclear deterrent state, with an active space program, India is considered an emerging superpower. Although its standard of living is projected to rise sharply in the next half-century, India currently battles high levels of poverty, persistent malnutrition, and environmental degradation. A multi-lingual, multi-ethnic society, India is home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of habitat ranging across evergreen forest, deciduous forest, desert, rain forest, and mangrove.
History of India
The history of India begins with the archaeological record of Homo sapiens ca. 34,000 years ago. Bronze Age civilization emerges contemporary to the civilizations of the Ancient Near East. India's history essentially includes the entire Indian subcontinent, encompassing the territory of the modern nations of the Republic of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan.
The Indus Valley Civilization in its early phase began around 3300 BC, and reached its mature phase from around 2600 BC. This was followed by the Vedic Civilization. The origin of the Indo-Aryans is under some dispute.
Most scholars today believe in some form of the Indo-Aryan migration hypothesis, which proposes that the Aryans, a semi-nomadic people, possibly from Central Asia or northern Iran, migrated into the north-west regions of the Indian subcontinent between 2000 and 1500 BC. The nature of this migration, the place of origin of the Aryans, and sometimes even the very existence of the Aryans as a separate people are hotly debated. The merger of the Vedic culture with the earlier Dravidian cultures (presumably of the descendants of the Indus Valley Civilization) apparently resulted in classical Indian culture, though the exact details of this process are controversial, with some claiming that the Aryans moved out of India. This theory suggests that the Indus Valley Civilization was essentially Vedic and spread to other parts of Europe between the 6th and 2nd millennia BCE. The births of Mahavira and Buddha in the 6th century BCE mark the beginning of well-recorded Indian history. For the next 1500 years, India produced its classical civilization, and is estimated by some historians to have had the largest economy of the ancient world between the 1st and 15th centuries CE, controlling between one third and one quarter of the world's wealth up to the time of the Mughals, from whence it rapidly declined during British rule.
Incursions by Arab and Central Asian armies in the 8th and 12th centuries were followed by inroads by traders from Europe, beginning in the late 15th century. The British East India Company was established in 1600 CE. From 1757, the British East India Company had begun colonising parts of India and by 1858 after defeating Sikh Empire in Punjab in 1849, they fought 2 Anglo Sikh wars, the British Crown had assumed political control over virtually all of India. Indian armed forces in the British army played a vital role in both the World Wars. Nonviolent resistance to British colonialism led by Mohandas Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel and Jawaharlal Nehru brought independence in 1947. The subcontinent was partitioned into the Secular Democratic Republic of India and the smaller Islamic Republic of Pakistan. A war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. In the 21st century, India has made impressive gains in economic investment and output, and stands as the world's largest democracy with a population exceeding one billion, is self sufficient in terms of food, and is a fast-growing, economically strong country, with the fourth largest economy (PPP) in the world.
India constitutes the major portion of the Indian subcontinent, which sits atop the Indian Plate and the northwesterly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate. India's northern and northeastern states are partially situated in the Himalayan Range. The rest of northern, central, and eastern India consists of the fertile Indo-Gangetic Plain. In the west, bordering southeastern Pakistan, lies the Thar Desert. Southern India is almost entirely composed of the peninsular Deccan plateau, which is flanked by two hilly coastal ranges, the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats.
India is home to several major rivers, including the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, the Yamuna, the Godavari, the Kaveri, the Narmada, and the Krishna. India has three archipelagos - Lakshadweep, which lies off the southwestern coast; the volcanic Andaman and Nicobar Islands island chain to the southeast, and the Sunderbans in the Ganges Delta of West Bengal.
The climate in India varies from tropical in the south to more temperate in the Himalayan north, where elevated regions receive sustained winter snowfall. India's climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert. The Himalayas, along with the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan, prevent cold Central Asian katabatic winds from blowing in. This keeps the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes. The Thar Desert is responsible for attracting the moisture-laden summer monsoon winds that, between June and September, provide most of India's rainfall.