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India

 

India

2.973,190 sq km

Capital Delhi

Pop. 1,147,995,904 (july08)

Religion Hindu 80.5%
Muslum 13.4%
Christian 2.3%
Sikh 1.9%

India officially the Republic of India (Hindi: भारत गणराज्य Bhārat Gaṇarājya; see also official names of India), is a sovereign state 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. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; Bhutan, the People's Republic of China and Nepal to the northeast; and Bangladesh and Burma 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.

 

History

 The Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh are the earliest known traces of human life in India. In 2011, an analysis of excavations from sites in Attirampakkam, Tamil Nadu showed the presence of Acheulean hominins in the early pleistocene. The first known permanent settlements appeared about 8,500 years ago and gradually developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, dating back to 3400 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 BCE. From around 550 BCE, independent kingdoms and republics known as the Mahajanapadas were established across the country.

 

Geography

India, the major portion of the Indian subcontinent, lies atop the Indian tectonic plate, a minor plate within the Indo-Australian Plate. India's defining geological processes commenced seventy-five million years ago, when the Indian subcontinent, then part of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, began a northeastwards drift—lasting fifty million years—across the then unformed Indian Ocean. The subcontinent's subsequent collision with the Eurasian Plate and subduction under it, gave rise to the Himalayas, the planet's highest mountains, which now abut India in the north and the northeast. In the former seabed immediately south of the emerging Himalayas, plate movement created a vast trough, which, having gradually been filled with river-borne sediment, now forms the Indo-Gangetic Plain. To the west of this plain, and cut off from it by the Aravalli Range, lies the Thar Desert.

 

Economy

India has the eleventh-largest national economy by GDP (US$1.43 trillion) and the fourth largest by PPP ($4 trillion). With its average annual GDP growth at 5.8 percent for the past two decades, India is also one of the fastest growing economies in the world. However, India's per capita income is $1,000, and the country ranks 142th in nominal GDP per capita and 127th in GDP per capita at PPP.

Until 1991, all Indian governments followed protectionist policies influenced by socialist economics. Widespread state intervention and regulation caused the Indian economy to be largely closed to the outside world. After an acute economic crisis in 1991, the nation liberalised its economy and has since continued to move towards a free-market system, emphasizing both foreign trade and investment.

 

Culture

India's culture is marked by a high degree of syncretism and cultural pluralism. With its roots based in the Indus Valley Tradition, the Indian culture took a distinctive shape during the 11th century BCE Vedic age which laid the foundation of Hindu philosophy, mythology, literary tradition and beliefs and practices. It has managed to preserve established traditions while absorbing new customs, traditions, and ideas from invaders and immigrants and spreading its cultural influence to other parts of Asia.

Indian religions form one of the most defining aspects of Indian culture. Major dhármic religions which were founded in India include Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Considered to be a successor to the historical Vedic religion, Hinduism has been shaped by the various schools of thoughts based on the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras and the Bhakti movement. Buddhism originated in India in 5th century BCE and prominent early Buddhist schools, such as Theravāda and Mahāyāna, gained dominance during the Maurya Empire. Though Buddhism entered a period of gradual decline in India 5th century CE onwards, it played an influential role in shaping Indian philosophy and thought.

 

Cuisine

Indian cuisine is characterised by a wide variety of regional styles and sophisticated use of herbs and spices. The staple foods in the region are rice (especially in the south and the east), wheat (predominantly in the north) and lentils. Spices, such as black pepper which are now consumed world wide, are originally native to the Indian subcontinent. Chili pepper, which was introduced by the Portuguese, is also widely used in Indian cuisine.