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The Republic of India, is the second most populous country in the world and is the world's largest democracy, with over one billion people speaking about 800 distinct languages. The Indian economy is the fourth-largest in the world, in terms of purchasing power parity.

Republic of India
भारत गणराज्य
Bhārat Gaṇarājya
(In Detail) (In Detail)
''National motto: Satyameva Jayaté
(Sanskrit: Truth Alone Triumphs)
Mundaka Upanishad'')
Official language Hindi, English (+ other official languages)
Capital New Delhi
Largest City Mumbai
President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh
- Total
- % water
Ranked 7th
3,287,590 km˛
- Total
- Density
Ranked 2nd
- Total
- GDP/head
Ranked 4th (among countries)
Ranked 5th (among economies)
2.66 trillion $
2,540 $
Independence August 15, 1947
Republic January 26, 1950
Currency Code (ISO 4217)
Indian Rupee (₨)
Time zone UTC +5.30 (IST)
National anthem Jana Gana Mana
National song Vandé Mataram
Internet TLD .IN
Calling Code 91
National game Hockey
National animal Bengal Tiger
National bird Peacock
National flower Lotus

Table of contents
1 Origin of names
2 History
3 Politics
4 Geography and climate
5 States and Union territories
6 Economy
7 Demographics
8 Religion
9 Society
10 Culture
11 Sports
12 Trivia
13 Related topics
14 External links

Origin of names

Main article: Origin of India's name

The official name India is derived from Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the river Indus and is the most internationally recognisable of the country. The Constitution of India and general usage also recognises Bharat as the other official name of equal status. Bharat comes from the name of an ancient Hindu king and means seeker of knowledge. Hindustan, meaning land of the Hindus (Hindu from Sindhu/ Indus) is the third major name used from the Mughal times onwards. It is unevenly used across the country today due to differing views of its appropriateness as a national signifier.


''Main article: History of India. Also See: Timeline of Indian history

Like a palimpsest, witness to many distinct layers of cultural history, India has a rich and colourful past. Many disruptive events have shaped its civilisation even as threads of continuity were maintained. For this reason, the cataloguing of India's history is under constant review. However this is still the simplest and most popular way of understanding Indian history.

Prehistoric and Early India

Stone age rock shelters with paintings at Bhimbetka in Madhya Pradesh constitute the earliest known traces of human life in India.

The first known permanent settlements appeared 9,000 years ago. This indigenous culture developed into the Indus Valley civilisation which was at its height from around 2600 BC to 1900 BC and was one of the earliest known civilisations. At around 1500 BC there were incursions (through invasion or migration) of Aryan tribes from Central Asia into India from the north-western passes of the Himalayas. The interaction between the Indus culture and the Aryan Vedic culture resulted in a composite culture that gave birth to Hinduism. This is a composite and evolved form of the theory first put forth by German historian Max Müller in the 19th century and is largely accepted. Recent theories of Indian history dispute the foreign origin of the Aryans and hold that there is an unbroken continuity in Indian civilisation. 

Early India

The first millennium saw many highly developed independent kingdoms some of which acquired imperial stature. Arts, mathematics, engineering, astrology and philosophy all flourished under the patronage of kings. Trade was conducted with Central, East, West Asia and Africa. The religions of Jainism and Buddhism were conceived. In 326 BC, Alexander the Great conquered north-western India. The Mauryas, Guptas and Ashoka were some of the monarchs of early India.

Medieval India

Though the earliest Islamic invasion dates back to the 8thcc. in the Arab invasion of Sind, it was the Turkic invasions of the 12th c that culminated in the formation of the Delhi Sultanate. Islamic provinces were established in many regions starting from the 14thcc. In 1526, Babur, a Central Asian chieftain, invaded India and established the Mughal dynasty which under Aurangazeb almost covered the whole of India. Kingdoms such as Vijayanagara, Rajputana and the Maratha confederacy offered stiff resistance to the Mughals. Islamic influence was generally much lesser in South India and Hindu kingdoms continued to hold sway.

By the 15th c, European traders started to arrive in India to establish commodity trading.

Colonial India

1498, the Portuguese set foot in Goa. Rivalry between reigning European powers saw the entry of the British and French among others. The fractured debilitate kingdoms of India were quickly usurped by the Europeans and indirectly assumed control by subjugating rulers. By early 19th century the British had assumed direct and indirect control over most of India. In 1857, an insurrection in the army sepoys ensued in the popular Revolt of 1857. This mobilised resistance, though short-lasting, was caused due to the widespread resentment due to British discriminatory policies. As a result of this, India formally became a Crown colony. From then on there were numerous independence movements. In 1914, the independence movement was bolstered with the return of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, a pacifist. As a colony of Britain, India fought on the side of the British in both World Wars.


August 8, 1942, Gandhi led the Quit India Movement, a move for early independence. However, due to World War II, it was agreed that a free India was to be created after the war. Agitation by political Muslim parties led to the creation of two dominion nations - a secular India and the other an Islamic Pakistan - on August 15, 1947.

Free India

India began its "tryst with destiny" with
Jawaharlal Nehru taking oath as India's first Prime Minister. On 26 January, 1950, India became a Republic. Nehru's tenure saw two wars with Pakistan over Kashmir and one against China. His Fabian Socialist tenets resulted in India's leaning towards a socialist ideology for several decades. Though Nehru refused to actively align with either of the two dominant superpowers, India did end up developing close ties with the Soviet Union through the years. India was also one of the founding members of the Non-aligned Movement. In 1971, after Pakistan attacked Indian air bases, India went to war with Pakistan again, resulting in the creation of Bangladesh from East Pakistan.

Modern-day India

1975 to 1977, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi clamped an Emergency, thereby freezing civil rights and leading to the arrests, without trial, of thousands of political dissidents and civilian protestors. In the 1980s India began to upgrade its military. In October 1984, Gandhi was assassinated by her bodyguards, affiliated to a Sikh separatist group, resulting in anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. The destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992 also resulted in religious strife in some parts of India. A major metamorphosis in Indian politics was seen as, in the late 90’s; the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) became the first non-Congress party to hold central Indian government for a full-term with the support of regional parties. Under its leadership, India 'went nuclear,' exploding five nuclear bombs. In 1999, India mobilised its military in Kargil, Kashmir to repel Islamic militants, allegedly backed by the Pakistani government, who were encroaching on Indian territory there.


Main article: Politics of India

The Republic of India is a democratic republic. It is a Union of states with a federal structure. The head of state is the President having a largely ceremonial role. The President and Vice-President are elected indirectly through an electoral college and have 5 year staggered terms.

The Prime Minister wields the executive power. He is assisted by the Council of Ministers (The cabinet) whom he appoints. All ministers are sworn in by the president. The prime minister is designated by legislators of the political party or coalition commanding a parliamentary majority. The president then appoints subordinate ministers on the advice of the prime minister.

India's bicameral parliament consists of the upper house called 'The Council of States' (Rajya Sabha) and the lower house called 'The House of the People' (Lok Sabha). The Rajya Sabha consists of incumbents elected through an electoral college whereas the Lok Sabha consists of directly elected representatives.

See also:

Geography and climate

Main article:
Geography of India
version, colours in as a part of India only areas (specifically in Jammu and Kashmir) under effective Indian control. For the rendering as per Indian claims, see the official map of the Government of India. Refer also to Kashmir Map Issues for a discussion regarding Indian, Pakistani and Chinese claims, with consequent effect on cartography, in the Kashmir area.)]] 

India shares its borders with Pakistan, China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia are the neighbouring island nations in the Indian Ocean.

Occupying most of the Indian subcontinent, India's entire north and northeast states are made up of the Himalayan Range. The rest of northern, central and eastern India consists of the fertile Indo-Gangetic plain. Towards western India, bordering southeast Pakistan lies the Thar Desert. The southern Indian peninsula is almost entirely composed of the Deccan plateau. The plateau is flanked by two hilly coastal ranges, the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats.

India is home to several major rivers such as the Ganga (Ganges), the Brahmaputra, the Yamuna, the Godavari and the Krishna.

The Indian climate varies from a tropical climate in the south to a more temperate climate in the north. India gets its rains through the monsoons.

See also: Climate of India, Ecoregions of India

States and Union territories

''Main articles: States and Territories of India

India is divided into 28 states (which are further sub-divided into districts), 6 Union Territories and the National Capital Territory of Delhi:

Indian States and Territories'''
Andhra Pradesh | Arunachal Pradesh | Assam | Bihar | Chhattisgarh | Goa | Gujarat | Haryana | Himachal Pradesh | Jammu and Kashmir | Jharkhand | Karnataka | Kerala | Madhya Pradesh | Maharashtra | Manipur | Meghalaya | Mizoram | Nagaland | Orissa | Punjab | Rajasthan | Sikkim | Tamil Nadu | Tripura | Uttaranchal | Uttar Pradesh | West Bengal
Union Territories: Andaman and Nicobar Islands | Chandigarh | Dadra and Nagar Haveli | Daman and Diu | Lakshadweep | Pondicherry
National Capital Territory: Delhi

India has made no territorial claim in Antarctica but had 2 scientific bases there - Dakshin Gangotri and Maitri.

See also: List of states of India by population


Main article: Economy of India

The Indian economy today is the 4th largest in the world and has the second fastest annual growth rate at around 8%. India's foreign exchange reserves amount to over 120 billion US dollars. Mumbai (formerly Bombay), headquarters of the Reserve Bank of India, and housing the Bombay Stock Exchange, remains the financial capital and nerve centre of the country's economy.

The Indian economy is largely agrarian (25% of the economy) but Manufacturing and Services have recently gathered pace as India becomes a more attractive destination for outsourcing and grows as a consumer market.

Other important industries are Iron and steel, petroleum, jewellery, entertainment, textile, Information Technology services and handicrafts.

See also:


Main article:
Demographics of India

India is the second most populous country in the world, with only China having a larger population. Language, religion, and caste are major determinants of social and political organisation within the highly diverse Indian population today. Its biggest metropolitan agglomerations are Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Delhi, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), Chennai (formerly Madras). (See List of cities in India)


India is home to two main language families, the Indo-Aryan and Dravidian derived languages. India's national language is Hindi. English is classified as an Associate Official Language is widely used in higher echelons, and is seen as the language of social mobility and standing. Two classical languages native to the land are Sanskrit and Tamil.

Eighteen other official languages are recognised by the Constitution for official administrative use by various State Governments. The number of living languages in India has been estimated to be as high as 400. (See List of Indian languages by total speakers)


Main article: Religion in India

Although 83% of the people are Hindus, India is home to a large population of Muslims (13%) giving it the world's third largest Muslim population after Indonesia and Pakistan. Other smaller religious minorities include Christians (3%), Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, Jews, Parsis, Ahmadi and Bahá'í.

Religion in India is very public with many rich and colourful practices imbued with pomp and vitality accompanying their underlying spiritual qualities.


Main article: Indian society

A pluralist, multilingual and multicultural society, Indians are largely tolerant and peaceful. Religious practices of various faiths are an integral part of everyday life in society. Education is highly regarded by members of every socio-economic strata. The traditional Indian family values are highly respected and considered sacred. Some urban families prefer a nuclear family owing to the socio-economic constraints imposed by the traditional joint family system.

See also: Indian family name''


''Main article: Culture of India

Being one of the earliest of civilisations, India has a rich and unique cultural heritage. It has striven to preserve its established traditions throughout history, though its dynamic nature is manifest in its willingness to respect and tolerate foreign ways and practices.

See also:


Main article:
Indian music

Indian music is represented by a wide variety of forms. The two main ones in terms of classical music are the Carnatic and Hindustani. In addition to this are the diverse traditions of folk music. Popular forms of music also prevail, the most notable being Filmi music.

See also:


Main article:
Indian literature

The earliest literary traditions were mostly oral and were later transcribed. Most of these spring from Hindu tradition and are represented by sacred works like the Vedas, the epics of the Mahabharatha and Ramayana. Sangam literature from Tamil Nadu represents some of India's oldest secular traditions. Indian writers in modern times have been the cynosure of wide acclaim, both in Indian languages and English (with Booker Prize winners, Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie). India's only Nobel laureate in Literature was the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore.

See also: Indian Writing in English


Many dance forms exist in India - Bharata Natyam, Odissi, Kuchipudi, Kathak, Kathakali and others. While they often have a narrative form, they are also infused with devotional and spiritual elements. Other forms such as street theatre and puppetry are also widespread.
See also: Indian classical dance


A melting pot of many religions, festivals are celebrated by one and all. The most widely-known and popular celebrations include the Hindu festivals of Diwali, Holi and Dussera.
Full article: Indian festivals; See Also: List of holidays in India


Main article: Indian Dress
Traditional dress in India greatly varies across the regions in its colours and styles. The Sari and Salwar Kameez are popular among women. Ethnic Indian wear for men is composed of the Dhoti and Kurta.


Main article: Indian cuisine

Rice in the south and Wheat in the north are the staple foods in the country. The gastronomy of India is extremely rich and varied as spices and other ingredients vary from region to region. Indians love their famous spicy food as much as their wide variety of sweets.


Main article: Cinema of India

India produces the world's highest number of films annually. The most recognisable face is that of Bollywood, based in Bombay, which produces mainly commercial Hindi films. Cinema in other language bases is particularly strong, with movies regularly produced in well-established Bengali, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu industries. Possibly the most acclaimed director in Indian cinema was Satyajit Ray; part of the Bengali film tradition, he is one of the few Indians to have won an Academy Award.


Main Article: Sports in India

India's National Sport is Field Hockey, although many would assert that Cricket is now the de-facto national game. Football too finds large viewership in almost the entire country. Some traditional indigenous games are Kabaddi and Gilli-danda. Chess, Carrom, Polo and Badminton are some other sports that are said to have originated from India.


Related topics

Topics in India
History of India Timeline of Indian history Indus Valley Civilisation, Aryan invasion theory, Greek Conquests in India Ashokan Era, Gupta dynasty, Mauryan dynasty, Islamic incursions in India, Mughal Era, British Raj, British East India Company, Governor-General of India, Viceroy of India, War of Independence, 1857, Indian independence movement, Quit India Movement, Partition of India, Non-Aligned Movement, Sino-Indian War, Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Kargil War, Foreign relations, Military, Demographic and Postal history
Politics Law, Constitution, Political parties (BJP & INC), Elections, Political divisions
Government Government agencies, Legislative branch (Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha) Executive branch (President & Vice-President, Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers, Attorney-General, Election Commission of India, Foreign Minister; Law enforcement: CBI, CID, Intelligence: IB, RAW), Judicial branch (Supreme Court), Military (Army, Navy, Air Force, BSF, Coast Guard)
Geography Himalayan Mtns, Western Ghats, Eastern Ghats, Indo Gangetic Plain, Deccan Plateau, Thar Desert, Ganges River, Rann of Kutch, Brahmaputra River, North-East India; Mountains, Valleys, Islands, Rivers; States and territories, Cities, List of Indian Districts, Regions
Economy Rupee, Bombay Stock Exchange, National Stock Exchange India, Standard of living, Companies, Reserve Bank of India
Demographics Languages, Standard of living, Religion
Arts & Culture Music (Carnatic, Hindustani, Indi-pop), Film & TV (Bollywood), Indian TV Stations Literature, Cuisine, Holidays, Folklore, Dance, Architecture; Education, Languages, Media
Other Indian English, Numbering system, Communications, Transportation (Highways, Railways, Auto rickshaw), Flag, Tourism

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[ Edit {}] Countries in South Asia
Bangladesh | Bhutan | India | Maldives | Nepal | Pakistan | Sri Lanka

India is also the letter I in the NATO phonetic alphabet