India Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > India > Map Economy History

WWF India The World Wide Fund For Nature in India.

Facts About India

Background: The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world, goes back at least 5,000 years. Aryan tribes from the northwest invaded about 1500 B.C.; their merger with the earlier inhabitants created classical Indian culture. Arab incursions starting in the 8th century and Turkish in 12th were followed by European traders beginning in the late 15th century. By the 19th century, Britain had assumed political control of virtually all Indian lands. Nonviolent resistance to British colonialism under Mohandas GANDHI and Jawaharlal NEHRU led to independence in 1947. The subcontinent was divided into the secular state of India and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan. A third war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. Fundamental concerns in India include the ongoing dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, massive overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, and ethnic strife, all this despite impressive gains in economic investment and output.
Government type: federal republic
Capital: New Delhi
Currency: 1 Indian rupee (Re) = 100 paise

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
Map references: Asia
Area:
total: 3,287,590 sq km
land: 2,973,190 sq km
water: 314,400 sq km
Land boundaries:
total: 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:
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
territorial sea: 12 nm
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, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, diamonds, petroleum, limestone, arable land.
Land use:
arable land: 56%
permanent crops: 1%
permanent pastures: 4%
forests and woodland: 23%
other: 16% (1993 est.)
Irrigated land: 535,100 sq km (1995/96 est.)
Natural hazards: droughts, flash floods, severe thunderstorms common; earthquakes
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, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Nuclear Test Ban, 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

People of India

Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 40% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.

Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. The government has recognized 18 languages as official; Hindi is the most widely spoken.

Although 81% of the people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 120 million Muslims--one of the world's largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.

The caste system reflects Indian occupational and religiously defined hierarchies. Traditionally, there are four broad categories of castes (varnas), including a category of outcastes, earlier called "untouchables" but now commonly referred to as "dalits." Within these broad categories there are thousands of castes and subcastes , whose relative status varies from region to region. Despite economic modernization and laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the class structure, the caste system remains an important source of social identification for most Hindus and a potent factor in the political life of the country.

Population: 1,080,264,388 (July 2005 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years:  33.12%
15-64 years:  62.2% 
65 years and over:  4.68%
Population growth rate: 1.4% 
Birth rate: 24.28 births/1,000 population 
Death rate: 8.74 deaths/1,000 population 
Net migration rate: -0.08 migrant(s)/1,000 population 
Infant mortality rate: 63.19 deaths/1,000 live births 
Life expectancy at birth:
total population:  62.86 years
male:  62.22 years
female:  63.53 years 
Total fertility rate: 3.04 children born/woman 
Nationality:
noun: Indian(s)
adjective: Indian
Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3% (2000)
Religions: Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5% (2000)
Languages: English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication. Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, Sanskrit, Hindustani (a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu are spoken widely throughout northern India).
note: 24 languages each spoken by a million or more persons; numerous other languages and dialects, for the most part mutually unintelligible
Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52%
male: 65.5%
female: 37.7% (1995 est.)

SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State

Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > India > Map Economy History