Join our weekly newsletter.
Articles, news, and ideas.

Languages, people and their cultures.

In need of a translation or interpreting service? Get a 5% lifetime discount now!

India

India Guide. India Country Profile.

Country Profile: India.

Fact: India is the world’s sixth de facto recognized nuclear weapons state and has the third-largest standing armed force in the world, while its military expenditure ranks tenth in the world.

The Republic of India, commonly known as India, is located in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Mainland India is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east; and it is bordered by Pakistan to the west; Bhutan, the People’s Republic of China and Nepal to the north; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. In the Indian Ocean, mainland India and the Lakshadweep Islands are in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands share maritime border with Thailand and the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the Andaman Sea. India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometers (4,700 mi).

Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four of the world’s major religions – Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainismand Sikhism – originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region’s diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early 18th century and colonized by the United Kingdom from the mid-19th century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence which was marked by a non-violent resistance led by Mahatma Gandhi.

India is a federal constitutional republic with a parliamentary democracy consisting of 28 states and seven union territories. A pluralistic, multilingual and multiethnic society where more than 400 languages are spoken, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. The Indian economy is the world’s eleventh largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth largest by purchasing power parity. Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1991, India has become one of the fastest growing major economies in the world. India is classified as a newly industrialized country and is one of the four BRIC nations. India is a regional power in South Asia.

:: Background of India ::

The Indus Valley civilization, one of the world’s oldest, flourished during the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C. and extended into northwestern India. Aryan tribes from the northwest infiltrated onto the Indian subcontinent about 1500 B.C.; their merger with the earlier Dravidian inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. The Maurya Empire of the 4th and 3rd centuries B.C. – which reached its zenith under ASHOKA – united much of South Asia. The Golden Age ushered in by the Gupta dynasty (4th to 6th centuries A.D.) saw a flowering of Indian science, art, and culture. Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 700 years. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Turks and Afghans invaded India and established the Delhi Sultanate. In the early 16th century, the Emperor BABUR established the Mughal Dynasty which ruled India for more than three centuries. European explorers began establishing footholds in India during the 16th century. By the 19th century, Great Britain had become the dominant political power on the subcontinent. The British Indian Army played a vital role in both World Wars. Nonviolent resistance to British rule, led by Mohandas GANDHI and Jawaharlal NEHRU, eventually brought about independence in 1947. Communal violence led to the subcontinent’s bloody partition, which resulted in the creation of two separate states, India and Pakistan. The two countries have fought three wars since independence, the last of which in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. India’s nuclear weapons tests in 1998 caused Pakistan to conduct its own tests that same year. In November 2008, terrorists allegedly originating from Pakistan conducted a series of coordinated attacks in Mumbai, India’s financial capital. Despite pressing problems such as significant overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, and widespread corruption, rapid economic development is fueling India’s rise on the world stage. In January 2011, India assumed a nonpermanent seat in the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term.

:: Geography of India ::

Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and Pakistan Geographic coordinates: 20 00 N, 77 00 E

Area:
Total: 3,287,263 sq km
Land: 2,973,193 sq km
Water: 314,070 sq km
Area – comparative: slightly more than one-third the size of the US
Land boundaries: 14,103 km
Border Countries: Bangladesh 4,053 km, Bhutan 605 km, Burma 1,463 km, China 3,380 km, Nepal 1,690 km, Pakistan 2,912 km
Coastline: 7,000 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate: varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north
Terrain: upland plain (Deccan Plateau) in south, flat to rolling plain along the Ganges, deserts in west, Himalayas in north

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Kanchenjunga 8,598 m
Natural resources: coal (fourth-largest reserves in the world), iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, rare earth elements, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, diamonds, petroleum, limestone, arable land

Land use:
Arable land: 48.83%
permanent crops: 2.8%
other: 48.37% (2005)
Irrigated land: 558,080 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 1.907.8 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 645.84 cu km/yr (8%/5%/86%)
per capita: 585 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards: droughts; flash floods, as well as widespread and destructive flooding from monsoonal rains; severe thunderstorms; earthquakes; volcanism: Barren Island (elev. 354 m, 1,161 ft) in the Andaman Sea has been active in recent years

Environment – current issues: deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; desertification; air pollution from industrial effluents and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage and runoff of agricultural pesticides; tap water is not potable throughout the country; huge and growing population is overstraining natural resources

Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography – note: dominates South Asian subcontinent; near important Indian Ocean trade routes; Kanchenjunga, third tallest mountain in the world, lies on the border with Nepal

:: People of India ::

Maritime claims:
Population: 1,173,108,018 (July 2010 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 30.5% (male 187,197,389/female 165,285,592)
15-64 years: 64.3% (male 384,131,994/female 359,795,835)
65 years and over: 5.2% (male 28,816,115/female 31,670,841) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 25.9 years
male: 25.4 years
female: 26.6 years (2010 est.)
Population growth rate: 1.376% (2010 est.)
Birth rate: 21.34 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Death rate: 7.53 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.05 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)

Urbanization:
urban population: 30% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 2.4% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.12 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.13 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.91 male(s)/female
total population: 1.08 male(s)/female (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 49.13 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 47.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 50.73 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 66.46 years
male: 65.46 years
female: 67.57 years (2010 est.)
Total fertility rate: 2.65 children born/woman (2010 est.)

HIV/AIDS – adult prevalence rate: 0.3% (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – people living with HIV/AIDS: 2.4 million (2007 est.)
HIV/AIDS – deaths: 310,000 (2007 est.)

Major infectious diseases:
degree of risk: high
food or waterborne diseases: bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever vectorborne diseases: chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and malaria animal contact disease: rabies
water contact disease: leptospirosis note: highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza has been identified in this country; it poses a negligible risk with extremely rare cases possible among US citizens who have close contact with birds (2009)

Nationality: noun: Indian(s) adjective: Indian
Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3% (2000)
Religions: Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%, unspecified 0.1% (2001 census)

Languages: Hindi 41%, Bengali 8.1%, Telugu 7.2%, Marathi 7%, Tamil 5.9%, Urdu 5%, Gujarati 4.5%, Kannada 3.7%, Malayalam 3.2%, Oriya 3.2%, Punjabi 2.8%, Assamese 1.3%, Maithili 1.2%, other 5.9%
note: English enjoys the status of subsidiary official language but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the most widely spoken language and primary tongue of 41% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language (2001 census)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 61%
male: 73.4%
female: 47.8% (2001 census)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education):
total: 10 years
male: 11 years
female: 10 years (2007)
Education expenditures: 3.2% of GDP (2007)