|WWF India The World Wide Fund For Nature in 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
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.)
SOURCES: The World Factbook, U.S. Department of State
Mother Earth Travel > Country Index > India > Map Economy History