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Geography and History of India

Learn About India's Geography, History and Worldwide Significance

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A woman talks on her cell phone as a passenger jet flies over the Jari Mari slum before landing at Mumbai Airport, on February 3, 2009 in Mumbai, India.

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Updated June 02, 2014

Population: 1,173,108,018 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: New Delhi
Major Cities: Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai
Area: 1,269,219 square miles (3,287,263 sq km)
Bordering Countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, China, Nepal and Pakistan
Coastline: 4,350 miles (7,000 km)
Highest Point: Kanchenjunga at 28,208 feet (8,598 m)

India, formally called the Republic of India, is the country that occupies most of the Indian subcontinent in southern Asia. In terms of its population, India is one of the most populous nations in the world and falls slightly behind China. India has a long history and is considered the world's largest democracy and one of the most successful in Asia. It is a developing nation and has only recently opened its economy to outside trade and influences. As such, its economy is currently growing and when combined with its population growth, India is one of the world's most significant countries.

India's History

India's earliest settlements are believed to have developed in the culture hearths of the Indus Valley around 2600 B.C.E. and in the Ganges Valley around 1500 B.C.E. These societies were mainly composed of ethnic Dravidians who had an economy based on commerce and agricultural trade.

Aryan tribes are believed to have then invaded the area after they migrated into the Indian subcontinent from the northwest. It is thought that they introduced the caste system which is still common in many parts of India today. During the 4th century B.C.E, Alexander the Great introduced Greek practices into the region when he expanded across Central Asia. During the 3rd century B.C.E, the Mauryan Empire came into power in India and was most successful under its emperor, Ashoka.

Throughout subsequent periods Arab, Turkish and Mongol peoples entered India and in 1526, a Mongol Empire was established there, which later expanded throughout most of northern India. During this time, such landmarks as the Taj Mahal were also constructed.

Much of India's history after the 1500s was then dominated by British influences. The first British colony was in 1619 with English East India Company at Surat. Shortly thereafter, permanent trading stations opened in present-day Chennai, Mumbai and Kolkata. British influence then continued to expand from these initial trading stations and by the 1850s, most of India and other countries such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were controlled by Britain.

By the late 1800s, India began working toward independence from Britain but it did not come until the 1940s however when Indian citizens began to unite and British Labor Prime Minister Clement Attlee began to push for India's independence. On August 15, 1947, India officially became a dominion within the Commonwealth and Jawaharlal Nehru was named India's Prime Minister. India's first constitution was written shortly thereafter on January 26, 1950 and at that time, it officially became a member of the British Commonwealth.

Since gaining its independence, India has undergone significant growth in terms of its population and economy however, there were periods of instability in the country and much of its population today lives extreme poverty.

Government of India

Today India's government is a federal republic with two legislative bodies. The legislative bodies consist of the Council of States, also called Rajya Sabha, and the People's Assembly, which is called the Lok Sabha. India's executive branch has a chief of state and a head of government. There are also 28 states and seven union territories in India.

Economics Land Use in India

India's economy today is a varied mix of small village farming, modern large scale agriculture as well as modern industries. The service sector is also an incredibly large part of India's economy as many foreign companies such places as call centers located in the country. In addition to the service sector, India's largest industries are textiles, food processing, steel, cement, mining equipment, petroleum, chemicals and computer software. India's agricultural products include rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, tea, sugarcane, dairy products and livestock.

Geography and Climate of India

The geography of India is diverse and can be divided into three main regions. The first is the rugged, mountainous Himalayan region in the northern part of the country, while the second is called the Indo-Gangetic Plain. It is in this region that most of India's large-scale agriculture takes place. The third geographic region in India is the plateau region in the southern and central portions of the country. India also has three major river systems which have large deltas that take over a large portion of the land. These are the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers.

India's climate is also varied but is tropical in the south and mainly temperate in the north. The country also has a pronounced monsoon season from June to September in it southern portion.

More Facts about India

• India's people are 80% Hindu, 13% Muslim and 2% Christian. These divisions have historically caused tensions between different religious groups.

• Hindi and English are India's official languages, but there are also 17 regional languages that are considered official.

• India has several cities that have undergone place name changes such as Bombay being renamed Mumbai. These changes were mainly done in an effort to return the city names to local dialects, as opposed to British translations.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. (20 January 2011). CIA - The World Factbook -- India. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/in.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). India: History, Geography, Government, and Culture - Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0107629.html

United States Department of State. (2009 November). India (11/09). Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/3454.htm

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