Country statistics


Land area: 1,147,949 sq miles (2,973,190 sq km)

Total area: 1,269,346 sq miles (3,287,590 sq km)

Population (2011 est.): 1,189,172,906 (growth rate: 1.344%); birth rate: 20.97/1000; infant mortality rate: 47.57/1000; life expectancy: 66.8

Capital City: New Delhi

Monetary unit: Rupee

Languages: Hindi 41%, English, Bengali, Gujarati, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, Kannada, Assamese, Sanskrit, Sindhi (all official); Hindi/Urdu; 1,600+ dialects

Ethnicity/race: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3% (2000)

Religions: Hindu 81.3%, Islam 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other (including Buddhists, Jains, and Parsis) 2.5% (2002)

Country introduction

Kanchenjunga, the third highest peak in the world

India is a country in South Asia. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the south-west, and the Bay of Bengal on the south-east. It shares land borders with Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east, and Myanmar and Bangladesh to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, in addition, India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.

India is a country of great diversity with a wide range of landform types. Four distinct regions can be found in the country, which are mountains, the plains, the desert and the southern peninsula.

The mountainous region in the northern frontiers is comprised of the Himalayas, a mountain range that extends over 2,500 km (1,553 miles) and has some of the highest peaks in the world. More than 10 mountains are over 7,500 m (24,606 ft) in height. Mount Everest located between the border of Nepal and Tibet is the highest with a height of 8,848 m (29,029 ft). Kanchanjunga is the highest in India with a height of 8,586 m (28,169 ft), making it the third highest peak in the world. The Himalayas have rivers that increase and decrease in amount with the snowfall. During the monsoon season, the heavy water coming out of them causes frequent flooding. On one side of India, the heights make them impassable, whereas in the east the ranges are considerably lower.

The plains are made up of basins by three main rivers in India, the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. Flat alluvium (rich soil deposited by rivers) is abundant and this area is considered to be one of the largest areas of it in the world. In addition to that international distinction, this area is also considered to be one of the most heavily populated areas in the world.

Near the western border with Pakistan lies a significant portion of the Thar Desert. About 10% of this region comprises of sand dunes, and the remaining 90% consist of craggy rock forms, compacted salt-lake bottoms, and interdunal and fixed dune areas. Annual temperatures can range from 0°C in the winter to over 50°C during the summer. Most of the rainfall received in this region is associated with the short JulySeptember south-west monsoon that brings around 100-500 mm of precipitation.

The last region, the peninsula, has mountains surrounding it, with coastal areas on the other side of the mountains. This thick, roughly triangular peninsula defines the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian sea to the west, and the India Ocean to the south.

The main river systems are the Himalayan rivers like Ganga and Brahmaputra which are snow-fed, the peninsular rivers like Godavari, Krishna and Mahanadi, and the coastal rivers. There are very few lakes in India with most of them located in the Himalayan regions. The Wular Lake in Kashmir is one of the biggest with its size changing seasonally from 12 to 100 sq miles (30 to 260 sq km).

The culture

The night sky lit by Diwali fireworks and lights over the city of India

Indian culture is rich and diverse and as a result unique in its very own way. It is also about respecting elders, honoring heroes and cherishing love. It is a land of aspirations, achievements and self reliance. Indian culture has a very high level of tolerance and hence the advent of so many external cultures was not restricted. Adaptation to any culture or embracing a religion was always the democratic culture.

Family values is the utmost of importance in Indian culture and the respect for elders is a major component. Elders are the driving force for any family and hence the love and respect for elders comes from within and is not artificial. An individual takes blessings from their elders by touching their feet. Elders drill and pass on the Indian culture to the younger generations as they grow up.

Most impressive and charming is the colorful traditional clothing of all the women, especially in the country Rajasthan. They wear their saris each day, even while working. The sari is a 6 m (19 ft) long and 2 m (6 ft) broad scarf and it demands some skill to dress oneself with it. It is available in different materials (cotton, synthetic, silk etc) accordingly to the intended purpose. For festive occasions there are precious, elaborate, handmade saris from pure. finest silk with golden threads in marvelous designs. The Indian women have an amazing sense for tasteful clothing and pay attention that all the accessories like bangles and the point on the forehead match in color with the sari. The festive saris are incredibly beautiful and the women make a charming sight. The traditional clothing of men consists of long wide shirts and trousers from different materials, beginning with simple cotton up to fine pure silk, according to the occasion. In Rajasthan some men by tradition wear a great looking twisted mustache and sometimes a turban.

Folk music and tradition is the rich heritage of modern India. Despite the advent of technology, open communication and developments in all fields, the area of fine arts still gives a proud picture of India. Dance is a part of celebration and is the intrinsic part of Indian glory. There are folk dances which are distinct and distinguished as per the geography. This also calls for a lot of make up talents and attire which only enhances the beauty of the dance and song.

All great Indian festivals have religious, social and seasonal elements to them. Celebrations are done with religious sanctity, making traditional food and celebration of the season. Indian festivals are a good way to get-together for social functions, to create an awareness of their heritage and culture that has been handed down to them for generations. India should be visited in October during Deepawali or Diwali (the Festival of Lights). It is one such celebration that brings joy and jubilation for all, the young, the old, men and women for the entire Hindu world. Diwali is celebrated to commemorate the victory of Lord Rama over demon King Ravana. The festival denotes, that truth always triumphes over the evil. At night countless oil lamps light Rama the way home from his period of exile. Today the festival is also dedicated to Lakshmi and to Kali in Calcutta.

Attractions & landmarks

The Taj Mahal

India is a land of culture and heritage, which has an array of tourist destinations that attracts travelers from all over the world. It's an interesting country where diversity delights, culture echoes and traditions speak.

India's premier attraction is the world-famous Taj Mahal in Agra. This extravagant Mughal mausoleum is the ultimate symbol of love. The Taj Mahal is the seventh wonder of the land which is proudly standing at the bank of river Yamuna. It is artistically designed in Islamic architecture which can be seen through its stone designs, interior wall designs and outer garden area. The Taj Mahal was constructed over a period of twenty-two years, employing twenty thousand workers in sweet memory of Mumtaz Begum by the 5th Mughal King Sahajahen. Other attractions in Agra include the red sandstone Agra Fort and Akbar's Mausoleum.

Lined with sandy beaches, beautiful Portuguese churches and a laidback lifestyle, Goa is a tourist hotspot. It has the most alluring beaches in the world, where the sea water is clear. The backwaters of Kerala have many hills, luxuriant and natural greenery beaches and is known for its tranquillity. This area also has acres of coconut palms and rice barges.

The Gateway of India is the most popular landmark in Mumbai, India's commercial capital. Mumbai is also home to the Hindi film industry or 'Bollywood', the city is known for its fast-paced lifestyle.

The Khajuraho Temples in Madhya Pradesh are known for their sheer size and beauty as well as the erotic sculptures. The temples represent the great masterpiece of Indian art and architectural values and are widely appreciated for the alluring erotic rocks carvings of different God's.

Rajasthan encompasses most of the area in Great Indian Desert and is famous for the majestic forts, intricately carved temples and attractively decorated Mahals. Rajasthan is known as the land of colors and kings which one can see by taking part in a camel safari and seeing the small dunes and villages.

The holy town of Varanasi is a pilgrimage centre dotted with temples and bathing ghats. This sacred and religious city retains its 5,000 years history which has nearly 100 ghats, steps leading to the banks of River Ganges. The Ganges River is sacred to the Hindus. According to traditional belief, a dip in this majestic river can wipe away all sins.

Besides watching these places one can also come to India to see the beautiful wild-life in some of the most renowned National Parks and Sanctities like Bandhavgarh, Khana, Ranthambore and Jim Corbett where animals from tigers to elephants can be viewed in their natural surroundings.