India (Hindi: भारत Bharat; see also other languages), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: भारतीय गणराज्य Bharatiya Ganarajya), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the largest democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometers (4,671 mi). It borders Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. The disputed Northern Areas of Jammu and Kashmir claimed by India and currently administered by Pakistan shares a small border with Afghanistan to the extreme northwest. Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia are in India's vicinity in Indian Ocean.
Home to the 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 major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and 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 eighteenth century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century, India became a modern nation state in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread nonviolent resistance.
India is the world's twelfth largest economy at market exchange rates and the third largest in purchasing power. Economic reforms have transformed it into the second fastest growing large economy; however, it still suffers from high levels of poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition. As a pluralistic, multilingual, and multiethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.
|Official Languages:||Hindi, English|
|Scheduled Languages:||8th Schedule|
|Government:||Federal republic Parliamentary democracy|
|Prime Minister||Narendra Modi|
|President||Ram Nath Kovind|
|from British colonial rule
15 August 1947
26 January 1950
|3,287,590‡ km² (7th)
1,269,346 sq mi
Water (%) 9.56
$ 2.965 trillion
$ 2700 (165th)
$ 1.089 trillion (12th)
$ 977 (132nd)
|HDI (2007)||0.619 (medium) (128th)|
|Currency||Indian rupee (INR)|
not observed (UTC+5:30)
The name India (pronounced) is derived from Indus, which is derived from the Old Persian word Hindu, from Sanskrit Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the Indus River. The ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi, the people of the Indus. The Constitution of India and common usage in various Indian languages also recognise Bharat as an official name of equal status. Hindustan which is the Persian word for "Land of the Hindus" and historically referred to northern India, is also occasionally used as a synonym for all of India.
Stone Age rock shelters with paintings at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh are the earliest known traces of human life in India. The first known permanent settlements appeared over 9,000 years ago and gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilization, dating back to 3300 BCE in western India. It was followed by the Vedic period, which laid the foundations of Hinduism and other cultural aspects of early Indian society, and ended in the 500s BC. From around 550 BCE, many independent kingdoms and republics known as the Mahajanapadas were established across the country.
The legislature of India is the bicameral Parliament, which consists of the upper house called the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the lower house called the Lok Sabha (House of People). The Rajya Sabha, a permanent body, has 245 members serving staggered six year terms. Most are elected indirectly by the state and territorial legislatures in proportion to the state's population. The 543 of the Lok Sabha's 545 members are directly elected by popular vote to represent individual constituencies for five year terms. The other two members are nominated by the President from the Anglo-Indian community if, in his opinion, the community is not adequately represented.
The executive branch consists of the President, Vice-President, and the Council of Ministers (the Cabinet being its executive committee) headed by the Prime Minister. Any minister holding a portfolio must be a member of either house of parliament. In the Indian parliamentary system, the executive is subordinate to the legislature, with the Prime Minister and his Council being directly responsible to the lower house of the parliament.
India has a unitary three-tier judiciary, consisting of the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice of India, twenty-one High Courts, and a large number of trial courts. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases involving fundamental rights and over disputes between states and the Centre, and appellate jurisdiction over the High Courts. It is judicially independent, and has the power to declare the law and to strike down union or state laws which contravene the Constitution. The role as the ultimate interpreter of the Constitution is one of the most important functions of the Supreme Court.
India is a federal republic of twenty-eight states and seven Union Territories. All states, the union territory of Puducherry, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi have elected governments. The other five union territories have centrally appointed administrators and hence are under direct rule of the President. In 1956, under the States Reorganisation Act, states were formed on a linguistic basis. Since then, this structure has remained largely unchanged. Each state or union territory is divided into basic units of government and administration called districts. There are nearly 600 districts in India. The districts in turn are further divided into tehsils and eventually into villages.
India, which lies within the Indomalaya ecozone, displays significant biodiversity. Being one of seventeen megadiverse countries, it is home to 7.6% of all mammalian, 12.6% of all avian, 6.2% of all reptilian, 4.4% of all amphibian, 11.7% of all fish, and 6.0% of all flowering plant species. Many ecoregions, such as the shola forests, exhibit extremely high rates of endemism; overall, 33% of Indian plant species are endemic. India's forest cover ranges from the tropical rainforest of the Andaman Islands, Western Ghats, and North-East India to the coniferous forest of the Himalaya. Between these extremes lie the sal-dominated moist deciduous forest of eastern India; the teak-dominated dry deciduous forest of central and southern India; and the babul-dominated thorn forest of the central Deccan and western Gangetic plain.
India's national sport is field hockey although cricket is the most popular sport in India. In some states, particularly those in the northeast and the states of West Bengal, Goa, and Kerala, football (soccer) is also a popular sport. In recent times, tennis has also gained popularity. Chess, commonly held to have originated in India, is also gaining popularity with the rise in the number of Indian grandmasters. Traditional sports include kabaddi, kho kho, and gilli-danda, which are played nationwide. India is home to the age-old disciplines of yoga and ayurveda and to the ancient martial arts, Kalarippayattu and Varma Kalai.