India - History, Map, Population, Economy, & Facts

India, officially known as the Republic of India, stands as a significant country in South Asia, ranking as the seventh-largest by area and currently the most populous as of June 2023. Since gaining independence in 1947, India has upheld its status as the world's most populous democracy.

India's location in South Asia, bordered by Pakistan to the northwest, China to the northeast, Nepal and Bhutan to the north, Bangladesh to the northeast, and Myanmar to the east.
Flag of India.
Flag of India
Emblem of India.
Emblem of India

Anthem: "Jana Gana Mana" (Hindi)
"Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People"

Audio File: National anthem of the Republic of India

National song: "Vande Mataram" (Sanskrit)
"I Bow to Thee, Mother

Audio File: National song of the Republic of India

Official NameRepublic of India
Motto"Satyameva Jayate" (Sanskrit)
"Truth Alone Triumphs"
CapitalNew Delhi
Population• 2023 estimate 1,428,627,663

• 2011 census 1,210,854,977
System Of GovernmentFederal parliamentary republic
PresidentDroupadi Murmu
Vice PresidentJagdeep Dhankhar
Prime MinisterNarendra Modi
Chief JusticeDhananjaya Y. Chandrachud
CurrencyIndian rupee (₹) (INR)
Official Language
  • Hindi
  • English
Recognised national languagesNone
Recognized Regional languagesState level and
Eighth Schedule
Native Language447 languages
Independence from the United KingdomIndependence from Great Britain

• Dominion
(August 15, 1947)

• Declaration
(January 26, 1950)

• Upper house

• Lower house

Rajya Sabha

Lok Sabha
Total Area (Sq Km)3,287,263
Total Area (Sq Mi)1,269,219
Water (%)9.6
Population Rank1st (2023)
Density: Persons Per Sq Mi1,098.2
Density: Persons Per Sq Km424
Urban-Rural Population• Urban: (2018) 34%
• Rural: (2018) 66%
Life Expectancy At Birth• Male: (2015–2019) 68.4 years
• Female: (2015–2019) 71.1 years
Literacy Rate: Percentage Of Population Age 15 And Over Literate• Male: (2018) 82%
• Female: (2018) 66%
Time zoneUTC+05:30 (IST)
DST is not observed.
Religion (2011)79.8% Hinduism
14.2% Islam
2.3% Christianity
1.7% Sikhism
0.7% Buddhism
0.4% Jainism
0.23% No religion
0.65% other
Driving sideLeft
Gni Per Capita (U.S.$)(2022) 2,380
GDP (PPP) Total Per capita2023 estimate
GDP (nominal) Total Per capita2023 estimate
$3.732 trillion
HDI (2021)0.633
Calling code+91
ISO 3166 codeIN
Internet (others)

Table of Content

India, officially known as the Republic of India, stands as a significant country in South Asia, ranking as the seventh-largest by area and currently the most populous as of June 2023. Since gaining independence in 1947, India has upheld its status as the world's most populous democracy. Positioned geographically with the Indian Ocean to the south, the Arabian Sea to the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast, it shares land borders with neighboring nations such as Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

The rich history of the Indian subcontinent traces back over 55,000 years, with modern humans arriving from Africa. Their extended presence, initially as hunter-gatherers, has shaped a region boasting remarkable human genetic diversity, second only to Africa. The evolution of settled life in the western margins of the Indus River basin around 9,000 years ago marked the beginning of the Indus Valley Civilization. By 1200 BCE, an archaic form of Sanskrit, an Indo-European language, diffused into India from the northwest, evident in the hymns of the Rigveda. The Rigveda records the dawn of Hinduism in India, capturing a unique historical narrative.

India's historical landscape witnessed early political consolidations, giving rise to the Maurya and Gupta Empires based in the Ganges Basin. This era, characterized by wide-ranging creativity, also marked the emergence of caste-based stratification within Hinduism by 400 BCE. Buddhism and Jainism rose as alternative ideologies, detached from hereditary social orders. Concurrently, in South India, Dravidian-languages scripts and religious cultures were exported to the kingdoms of Southeast Asia from the Middle kingdoms.

The medieval era saw the establishment of Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism on India's southern and western coasts. Muslim armies from Central Asia intermittently influenced India's northern plains, leading to the formation of the Delhi Sultanate and integrating northern India into the cosmopolitan networks of medieval Islam. The Vijayanagara Empire, in the 15th century, fostered a lasting composite Hindu culture in south India, while Sikhism emerged in the Punjab, rejecting institutionalized religion.

The Mughal Empire, inaugurated in 1526, ushered in an era of relative peace, leaving a legacy of remarkable architecture. Subsequently, British East India Company rule gradually expanded, transforming India into a colonial economy while consolidating its sovereignty. British Crown rule commenced in 1858, accompanied by slow-granted rights to Indians. The 20th century witnessed a transformative nationalist movement marked by nonviolent resistance, leading to the culmination of British rule in 1947, which saw the partition of the British Indian Empire into the Dominion of India and the Dominion of Pakistan.

Since 1950, India has been a federal republic, operating under a democratic parliamentary system. With a diverse and multi-ethnic society, India's population has surged from 361 million in 1951 to nearly 1.4 billion in 2022. Simultaneously, its per capita income and literacy rates have witnessed significant increases. Evolving from a relatively destitute nation in 1951, India has emerged as a rapidly growing major economy, particularly in information technology services, fostering an expanding middle class.

India's societal fabric encompasses pluralism, multilingualism, and multi-ethnicity. Beyond economic progress, India has made strides in space exploration, with several planned or completed extraterrestrial missions. The country's cultural influence extends globally through its movies, music, and spiritual teachings. Despite achievements, India grapples with socio-economic challenges such as gender inequality, child malnutrition, and escalating air pollution. The nation's megadiverse land, featuring four biodiversity hotspots, hosts a wealth of wildlife within its protected habitats. India stands as a nuclear-weapon state, with military expenditure ranking high. Persistent disputes over Kashmir with neighbors Pakistan and China remain unresolved, presenting enduring geopolitical challenges.


Ancient India

Approximately 55,000 years ago, Homo sapiens, the first modern humans, migrated from Africa to the Indian subcontinent, marking the inception of human settlement in the region. Archaeological findings suggest that the earliest modern human remains in South Asia date back to around 30,000 years ago. The emergence of agriculture, permanent structures, and surplus storage in Mehrgarh and other sites in Balochistan, Pakistan, laid the foundation for the Indus Valley Civilization, flourishing between 2500–1900 BCE in Pakistan and western India. This urban culture, centered around cities like Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, thrived on crafts production and extensive trade networks.

Between 2000–500 BCE, various regions in the subcontinent transitioned from Chalcolithic to Iron Age cultures. This period witnessed the composition of the Vedas, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism, and marked several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the region. The caste system began to take shape, establishing social hierarchies and occupational divisions. In South India, a shift towards sedentary lifestyles is evidenced by the proliferation of megalithic monuments and agricultural practices.

An illustrated manuscript from around 1650 depicts scenes from the Sanskrit epic Ramayana.
An illustrated manuscript from around 1650 depicts scenes from the Sanskrit epic Ramayana, which was crafted in a storytelling format between approximately 400 BCE and 300 CE.
Cave 26 within the Ajanta Caves, hewn from rock, showcases intricate art.
Cave 26 within the Ajanta Caves, hewn from rock, showcases intricate art.

By the 6th century BCE, the Ganges Plain and north-western regions saw the consolidation of small states into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies known as the mahajanapadas. This period witnessed the rise of non-Vedic religious movements, including Jainism and Buddhism, which attracted followers across social strata. The Mauryan Empire emerged as a dominant political force, known for its administrative prowess and Emperor Ashoka's embrace of Buddhism.

The Sangam literature of Tamil Nadu highlights the rule of the Cheras, Cholas, and Pandyas between 200 BCE and 200 CE, who engaged in extensive trade with the Roman Empire and regions of West and Southeast Asia. In North India, Hinduism asserted patriarchal dominance within family structures. The Gupta Empire, in the 4th and 5th centuries, established a sophisticated administrative system across the Ganges Plain, serving as a model for future Indian kingdoms. This period also witnessed a resurgence of Hinduism, emphasizing devotion and fostering advancements in literature, science, and architecture.

Medieval India

The early medieval era in India, spanning from 600 to 1200 CE, is characterized by the presence of regional kingdoms and a rich cultural mosaic. During this period, Harsha of Kannauj, reigning over a significant portion of the Indo-Gangetic Plain from 606 to 647 CE, faced challenges when attempting expansion. His southward endeavors were thwarted by the Chalukya ruler of the Deccan, while attempts to expand eastwards resulted in defeat by the Pala king of Bengal. The Chalukyas' own southward expansion faced resistance from the Pallavas, countered by the Pandyas and Cholas from even farther south. Notably, no ruler of this era managed to establish a lasting empire beyond their core region, and the caste system began displaying regional variations.

In the 6th and 7th centuries, the Tamil language witnessed the creation of the first devotional hymns, a cultural development with widespread influence across India. This resurgence of Hinduism and the emergence of modern subcontinental languages were driven by imitations of these hymns. Capital cities, supported by Indian royalty and temples, became vibrant economic centers, attracting a large populace. Temple towns of various sizes began sprouting across the land, marking another phase of urbanization. By the 8th and 9th centuries, South Indian culture and political systems reached Southeast Asia, leaving an indelible impact on modern-day Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Brunei, Cambodia, Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The transmission involved Indian merchants, scholars, and occasional military expeditions, reciprocated by Southeast Asians who studied in Indian seminaries and translated religious texts.

Thanjavur Brihadeeswara Temple
The construction of Brihadeshwara temple in Thanjavur was finalized in the year 1010 CE.
The Qutub Minar.
Standing at a height of 73 meters (240 feet), the Qutub Minar was finished by the Sultan of Delhi, Iltutmish.

Post the 10th century, South Asia experienced the incursions of Muslim Central Asian nomadic clans, utilizing swift-horse cavalry and forming vast armies united by ethnicity and religion. These incursions culminated in the establishment of the Islamic Delhi Sultanate in 1206, which held sway over much of North India and intermittently ventured into the South. While initially disruptive to Indian elites, the sultanate largely allowed its non-Muslim subjects to adhere to their own laws and customs. The sultanate's successful repulsion of Mongol raiders in the 13th century spared India from the devastation witnessed in West and Central Asia. This, in turn, facilitated the migration of soldiers, scholars, mystics, traders, artists, and artisans from the region into the subcontinent, fostering a syncretic Indo-Islamic culture in the north. The sultanate's raids and weakening of South Indian kingdoms created an opening for the rise of the indigenous Vijayanagara Empire. Rooted in a strong Shaivite tradition and leveraging the military technology of the sultanate, the empire gained control over much of peninsular India, exerting a lasting influence on South Indian society.

Early modern India

In the 16th century's early years, the northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, governed predominantly by Muslim leaders, succumbed once more to the advanced tactics and weaponry of emerging Central Asian warriors. The resultant Mughal Empire, rather than eradicating indigenous societies, established equilibrium and tranquility through innovative administrative strategies and a varied, inclusive ruling class. This led to a more systematic, centralized, and uniform governance. Rejecting tribal affiliations and emphasizing a non-religious identity, especially during Akbar's reign, the Mughals unified their expansive territories through allegiance, manifested in a Persianized culture, directed towards an emperor considered quasi-divine. Economic policies of the Mughal state, centered on agriculture and requiring taxes in well-regulated silver currency, propelled peasants and artisans into larger markets. The prolonged peace in much of the 17th century facilitated India's economic growth, fostering increased support for arts, literature, textiles, and architecture. Emerging social entities in northern and western India, such as the Marathas, Rajputs, and Sikhs, developed military and governance aspirations during Mughal rule, gaining recognition and military prowess through collaboration or adversity. The expanding commerce under Mughal rule nurtured new Indian commercial and political elites along the southern and eastern coasts. With the empire's decline, these elites seized control over their own affairs.

Fast-forwarding to the early 18th century, the distinction between commercial and political dominance blurred, as several European trading entities, including the English East India Company, established coastal outposts. The East India Company's naval supremacy, substantial resources, and advanced military capabilities prompted it to assert increasing military dominance, luring a segment of the Indian elite. These factors played a pivotal role in the company's acquisition of Bengal by 1765, sidelining other European competitors. The Company's expanded access to Bengal's wealth and the subsequent growth in its army's strength facilitated the annexation or subjugation of most of India by the 1820s. India's transition from exporting manufactured goods to supplying raw materials to the British Empire marked the beginning of its colonial era, as recognized by many historians. With its economic influence curtailed by the British Parliament and effectively transformed into a tool of British administration, the East India Company consciously entered non-economic domains, including education, social reform, and culture.

Modern India

India's modern era is commonly dated between 1848 and 1885, as Lord Dalhousie assumed the role of Governor General for the East India Company in 1848. During this period, pivotal changes laid the foundation for a contemporary state. These encompassed the consolidation and delineation of sovereignty, population surveillance, and citizen education. Technological advancements, such as railways, canals, and the telegraph, were swiftly introduced, mirroring developments in Europe. Simultaneously, discontent with the company burgeoned, culminating in the Indian Rebellion of 1857. Fueled by various grievances, including intrusive British-style social reforms, oppressive land taxes, and the summary treatment of affluent landowners and princes, the rebellion reverberated across northern and central India, ultimately challenging the hegemony of the East India Company. Although quelled by 1858, the uprising precipitated the dissolution of the company and marked the onset of direct British government administration in India. Proclaiming a unitary state and a gradual, albeit restricted, British-style parliamentary system, the new rulers safeguarded princes and landed gentry as a feudal bulwark against potential unrest. Public life in India saw a gradual flourishing over the next few decades, leading to the formation of the Indian National Congress in 1885, marking a significant milestone.

The latter half of the 19th century witnessed a surge in technology and the commercialization of agriculture, accompanied by economic setbacks. Many small-scale farmers found themselves vulnerable to the caprices of distant markets. Large-scale famines proliferated, posing a threat to Indian agriculture. Despite Indian taxpayers bearing the risks of infrastructure development, industrial employment opportunities for locals remained scarce. Nevertheless, positive outcomes materialized, with commercial cropping, particularly in the newly canalled Punjab, leading to increased domestic food production. The expanding railway system was crucial for famine relief, notably cutting transport expenses and backing India's growing industry owned by locals.

A map from 1909 depicting the British Indian Empire.
Mahatma Gandhi.

After the conclusion of World War I, during which roughly one million Indians were in service, a new era commenced. This period witnessed British reforms alongside repressive measures, as well as heightened Indian demands for self-governance. Simultaneously, a nonviolent movement of non-co-operation emerged, eventually led by Mahatma Gandhi. The 1930s saw gradual legislative changes by the British, with the Indian National Congress achieving victories in subsequent elections. The ensuing decade was marked by significant challenges: Indian involvement in World War II, the Congress's intensified push for non-co-operation, and a surge in Muslim nationalism. These events culminated in independence in 1947, though tempered by the partition of India into two states: India and Pakistan.

Integral to India's self-perception as a sovereign nation was the adoption of its constitution in 1950, establishing a secular and democratic republic. Despite retaining membership in the Commonwealth per the London Declaration, India became its first republic. The 1980s saw the onset of economic liberalisation, coupled with collaboration with the Soviet Union for technical expertise. Consequently, India witnessed the rise of a significant urban middle class, propelling it to become one of the world's fastest-growing economies and enhancing its geopolitical influence. However, India grapples with persistent challenges, including widespread poverty, religious and caste-based conflicts, Naxalite insurgencies inspired by Maoism, and separatist movements in regions like Jammu and Kashmir and Northeast India. Additionally, unresolved territorial disputes persist with both China and Pakistan.

Despite maintaining enduring democratic freedoms, which distinguish it among newer nations globally, India continues to strive towards alleviating the deprivation experienced by its marginalized populace.
The United States of America is a country consisting of 50 states that covers a vast area of North America. Alaska is situated in the northwest, and Hawaii extends its territorial reach into the Pacific Ocean. Notable cities located on the Atlantic Coast include New York, which is a global hub for finance and culture, and the capital, Washington, DC. Chicago, a Midwestern metropolis, is renowned for its significant architectural influence. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Los Angeles' Hollywood district is famous for its iconic contributions to filmmaking.


India, holding the majority of the Indian subcontinent, rests atop the Indian tectonic plate, part of the larger Indo-Australian Plate. Geological transformations initiated 75 million years ago when the Indian Plate, then a fragment of the southern supercontinent Gondwana, commenced a north-eastward drift propelled by seafloor spreading to its south-west. Simultaneously, the Tethyan oceanic crust to the northeast began to subduct under the Eurasian Plate. Driven by convection in the Earth's mantle, these dual processes birthed the Indian Ocean and led to the under-thrusting of the Indian continental crust beneath Eurasia, ultimately giving rise to the Himalayas. Just south of this emerging mountain range, a crescent-shaped trough formed, swiftly filling with river-borne sediment, shaping the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The original Indian plate re-emerges above the sediment in the ancient Aravalli range, extending from the Delhi Ridge southwestward. To the west lies the Thar Desert, its eastern expanse impeded by the Aravallis.

Remaining as peninsular India, the oldest and geologically most stable segment, the Indian Plate extends northward to the Satpura and Vindhya ranges in central India. Parallel to the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat to the coal-rich Chota Nagpur Plateau in Jharkhand, the Satpura and Vindhya ranges traverse the country. To the south, the Deccan Plateau, the enduring peninsular landmass, is bordered by the Western and Eastern Ghats on the west and east, respectively. The plateau harbors India's oldest rock formations, some exceeding one billion years. Configured thus, India is positioned north of the equator between 6° 44′ and 35° 30′ north latitude and 68° 7′ and 97° 25′ east longitude.

India's extensive coastline spans 7,517 kilometers (4,700 mi); 5,423 kilometers (3,400 mi) belong to peninsular India, while 2,094 kilometers (1,300 mi) pertain to the Andaman, Nicobar, and Lakshadweep island chains. The mainland coastline, as per Indian naval hydrographic charts, comprises 43% sandy beaches, 11% rocky shores, including cliffs, and 46% mudflats or marshy shores.

Major Himalayan-origin rivers, notably the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, significantly traverse India, draining into the Bay of Bengal. The Ganges has important tributaries like the Yamuna and the Kosi, with the latter's low gradient leading to floods and course alterations. On the peninsular side, rivers like the Godavari, the Mahanadi, the Kaveri, and the Krishna, draining into the Bay of Bengal, as well as the Narmada and the Tapti, draining into the Arabian Sea, shape the landscape. Coastal features include the marshy Rann of Kutch in the west and the alluvial Sundarbans delta in the east, shared with Bangladesh. India boasts two archipelagos: the Lakshadweep, coral atolls off the southwestern coast, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a volcanic chain in the Andaman Sea.

Nanda Devi.
Nanda Devi, the second-highest mountain peak in India.

India's climate, strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert, governs pivotal summer and winter monsoons. The Himalayas block cold Central Asian katabatic winds, maintaining a warmer climate than most at similar latitudes. The Thar Desert plays a vital role in attracting moisture-laden southwest summer monsoon winds, providing the majority of India's rainfall from June to October. Four predominant climatic groupings exist in India: tropical wet, tropical dry, subtropical humid, and montane.

The Valley of Flowers, located in the Chamoli district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand.
The Valley of Flowers, located in the Chamoli district of the Indian state of Uttarakhand. It is nestled within the Garhwal Himalayas, and situated at an elevation ranging from 3,200 meters to 6,675 meters above sea level.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Kaziranga National Park.
Kaziranga National Park, situated in the Indian state of Assam, is renowned for its conservation efforts aimed at preserving the endangered one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis). Spanning an area of approximately 430 square kilometers, the park's diverse ecosystem comprises tall grasslands, marshes, and dense forests, providing sanctuary not only to the one-horned rhinoceros but also to significant populations of Asiatic elephants, Bengal tigers, and various avian species.

Over the years, temperatures in India have risen by 0.7 °C (1.3 °F) from 1901 to 2018, attributed to climate change. The retreat of Himalayan glaciers has impacted the flow rate of major rivers like the Ganges and the Brahmaputra.

By the close of the current century, there are forecasts suggesting a notable rise both in the quantity and intensity of droughts experienced in India.


India, renowned for its exceptional biodiversity, harbors numerous species found nowhere else on Earth. With a rich tapestry of habitats, it is home to a staggering array of life forms, boasting 8.6% of all mammal species, 13.7% of bird species, and significant proportions of reptiles, amphibians, fish, and flowering plants. A significant portion of India's flora, about a third, is endemic, contributing to its status as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots, facing significant habitat loss.

Snow leapards.
Snow leapards.

Bengal Tiger.
Approximately 3,170 wild tigers roam India, constituting the largest population of these majestic creatures globally as of 2022.

Official data reveals that India's forest cover spans 713,789 square kilometers, constituting over one-fifth of the nation's total land area. These forests vary in density, from dense canopies covering more than 70% of the area to open forests with canopy cover as low as 10%. The distribution of these forests reflects India's diverse ecological zones, from the tropical moist forests of the Andaman Islands to the temperate coniferous forests of the Himalayas.

India's indigenous flora includes iconic species like Azadirachta indica, known as neem, revered for its medicinal properties, and Ficus religiosa, the sacred peepul tree. These trees hold cultural significance and have been integral to traditional practices for centuries, embodying the deep connection between Indian society and its natural heritage.

The geological history of India, tracing back to its separation from Gondwana over 100 million years ago, has profoundly influenced its biodiversity. Subsequent collisions with Eurasia and climatic shifts reshaped its fauna, leading to the emergence of unique species. However, anthropogenic activities and environmental changes have threatened many endemic species, pushing them towards extinction.

India faces a pressing conservation challenge, with 172 animal species listed as threatened by the IUCN, including iconic species like the Bengal tiger and the Ganges river dolphin. Human encroachment, habitat destruction, and wildlife trade have exacerbated the crisis, prompting the establishment of protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries. Legislative measures like the Wildlife Protection Act and initiatives like Project Tiger underscore India's commitment to preserving its natural heritage for future generations.

Politics and government


India operates as a parliamentary republic featuring a diverse multi-party system. Among its political landscape are six recognized national parties, notably the Indian National Congress (INC) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), alongside over 50 regional parties. The INC typically occupies the center ground in Indian politics, while the BJP leans towards the right-wing spectrum. Historically, from 1950 until the late 1980s, the Congress held a dominant position in Parliament. However, since then, it has shared power increasingly with the BJP and influential regional parties, often necessitating the formation of multi-party coalition governments. According to the V-Dem Democracy indices, as of 2023, India ranked as the 19th most electoral democratic country in Asia.

The initial three general elections in the Republic of India, spanning from 1951 to 1962, saw the Congress, led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, secure significant victories. Following Nehru's passing in 1964, Lal Bahadur Shastri briefly assumed the role of prime minister, succeeded by Indira Gandhi. Gandhi's leadership led the Congress to further electoral successes in 1967 and 1971. However, public discontent during the state of emergency in 1975 resulted in the Congress losing power in 1977 to the Janata Party. The subsequent government, which witnessed the leadership of Morarji Desai and Charan Singh, lasted a brief period. The Congress regained power in 1980 under the leadership of Indira's son, Rajiv Gandhi, only to be ousted again in 1989 by a coalition led by the Janata Dal. The period also saw Prime Ministers V.P. Singh and Chandra Shekhar at the helm. The elections of 1991 yielded no clear majority, allowing the Congress to form a minority government led by P. V. Narasimha Rao.

Following the 1996 general election, India experienced a turbulent political phase characterized by short-lived alliances and coalition governments. The BJP briefly held power in 1996, succeeded by two relatively stable United Front coalitions. Prime Ministers H.D. Deve Gowda and I.K. Gujral led these alliances during this period. In 1998, the BJP managed to form a successful coalition known as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), with Atal Bihari Vajpayee at its helm. Notably, the NDA marked the first non-Congress coalition government to complete a full five-year term. In the subsequent 2004 elections, the Congress emerged as the largest single party, forming another effective coalition termed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA). Supported by left-leaning parties, the UPA retained power in 2009 without external assistance. Manmohan Singh's reelection in 2009 marked the first consecutive five-year term for a prime minister since Jawaharlal Nehru. The BJP's victory in the 2014 elections ushered in a majority government without the need for coalition support, a feat not seen since 1984.


Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Designed by British architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker, Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India, underwent construction from 1911 to 1931, serving initially as the residence of the Viceroy of India during the British Raj.

India operates as a federation governed by the Constitution of India, which serves as its supreme legal framework. The country functions as a constitutional republic, adhering to principles outlined within its governing document.

Federalism in India entails the distribution of power between the central government and its constituent states. Originally declared a "sovereign, democratic republic" upon the enactment of its Constitution in 1950, India later amended this characterization in 1971 to emphasize its status as "a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic." Over time, India's governance structure, often described as "quasi-federal," has exhibited a trend towards greater federalism, influenced by various political, economic, and social shifts.

In India, numerous symbols represent the essence of the nation. The emblem is depicted by the Sarnath Lion Capital, echoing the country's rich historical heritage. The national anthem, "Jana Gana Mana," and the revered song "Vande Mataram" resonate with patriotic fervor. While there isn't an official language, the Indian rupee (₹) stands as the national currency, embodying economic strength and unity. The Shaka calendar marks time in accordance with Indian tradition. The Indian peafowl symbolizes grace and beauty as the national bird, while the lotus, with its cultural significance, serves as the national flower. India's tropical climate is reflected in its choice of national fruit, the mango. The majestic Bengal tiger represents the nation's diverse wildlife, alongside the river dolphin, a unique aquatic mammal found in Indian rivers. The resilient banyan tree is designated as the national tree, symbolizing longevity and stability. Finally, the sacred River Ganges holds profound spiritual and cultural significance, epitomizing the lifeblood of the nation.

The Government of India comprises three primary branches:

Executive: The ceremonial head of state, the President of India, is indirectly elected for a five-year term by an electoral college consisting of members from national and state legislatures. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister, as the head of government, wields significant executive authority. Supported by the majority party or coalition in the lower house of parliament, the Prime Minister leads the Union Council of Ministers, which includes the President, Vice-President, and other cabinet members. Notably, all ministers with portfolios must hold membership in either house of parliament. In the Indian parliamentary system, executive power is subordinate to the legislature, with the Prime Minister and their cabinet directly accountable to the lower house.

Legislature: India's legislative body, the bicameral parliament, operates under a Westminster-style system. It consists of the Rajya Sabha (Council of States) and the Lok Sabha (House of the People). The Rajya Sabha, comprised of 245 members with staggered six-year terms, is primarily elected indirectly by state and union territorial legislatures. Conversely, most of the 545 members of the Lok Sabha are directly elected by popular vote, representing single-member constituencies for five-year terms. Notably, seats reserved for Anglo-Indians have been eliminated.

Judiciary: India boasts a three-tiered, independent judiciary, comprising the Supreme Court, 25 high courts, and numerous trial courts. Led by the Chief Justice of India, the Supreme Court holds original jurisdiction over cases involving fundamental rights and disputes between states and the central government. Moreover, it holds the power to review cases from high courts, thereby having the ability to nullify laws and governmental measures found to be in violation of the constitution.

Administrative divisions

India, a diverse federal union, comprises 28 states and 8 union territories. Each state, along with the union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Puducherry, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi, operates under elected legislatures and governments adhering to the Westminster system of governance. The remaining five union territories are under direct governance by the central administration through appointed administrators. The States Reorganisation Act of 1956 facilitated the restructuring of states based on linguistic principles. Presently, there exist over a quarter of a million local government bodies spanning various levels, from cities and towns to blocks, districts, and villages, fostering decentralized governance.


1. Andhra Pradesh
2. Alaska
3. Arunachal Pradesh
4. Assam
5. Bihar
6. Chhattisgarh
7. Goa
8. Gujarat
9. Haryana
10. Himachal Pradesh
11. Jharkhand
12. Karnataka
13. Kerala
14. Madhya Pradesh
15. Maharashtra
16. Andhra Pradesh
17. Alaska
18. Arunachal Pradesh
19. Assam
20. Bihar
21. Chhattisgarh
22. Goa
23. Gujarat
24. Haryana
25. Himachal Pradesh
26. Jharkhand
27. Karnataka
28. Kerala

Union territories

1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
2. Chandigarh
3. Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
4. Jammu and Kashmir
5. Ladakh
6. Lakshadweep
7. National Capital Territory of Delhi
8. Gujarat

International economic and strategic diplomatic affairs

During the 1950s, India actively supported the process of decolonization across Africa and Asia, emerging as a prominent figure within the Non-Aligned Movement. Despite initially fostering amicable relations with its neighbor China, India found itself engaged in a conflict with China in 1962, a confrontation widely perceived as a source of humiliation. Subsequently, in 1967, India effectively thwarted a Chinese assault, marking a significant shift in dynamics. Tensions with Pakistan, another neighboring nation, have remained palpable, resulting in four armed conflicts between the two countries: in 1947, 1965, 1971, and 1999. Notably, the territorial dispute over Kashmir fueled three of these confrontations, while the 1971 war stemmed from India's backing of Bangladesh's quest for independence. In the late 1980s, the Indian military executed two interventions overseas at the behest of the host nations: a peacekeeping endeavor in Sri Lanka spanning from 1987 to 1990 and an armed intervention to thwart a 1988 coup d'état in the Maldives. Following the 1965 conflict with Pakistan, India initiated a pursuit of close military and economic alliances with the Soviet Union, culminating in the latter becoming its primary arms supplier by the late 1960s.

In September 1961, In September 1961, Jawaharlal Nehru (centre) participated in the Belgrade Conference of Non-Aligned Nations alongside Gamal Abdel Nasser (left) and  Josip Broz Tito (right).
In September 1961, Jawaharlal Nehru (centre) participated in the Belgrade Conference of Non-Aligned Nations alongside Gamal Abdel Nasser (left) and Josip Broz Tito (right).

India's intricate defence relations extend beyond its longstanding ties with Russia, encompassing partnerships with Israel and France. Notably, India has actively engaged in global forums such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the World Trade Organization. Its contributions to UN peacekeeping missions, involving a significant deployment of military and police personnel, underscore its commitment to global peace. Additionally, India's participation in multilateral platforms like the East Asia Summit and the G8+5 reflects its broad diplomatic outreach. Economically, India's 'Act East' policy underscores its efforts to bolster collaboration with ASEAN nations, Japan, and South Korea, particularly in areas of economic investment and regional security enhancement.

In London, United Kingdom, on October 09, 2022, participants engage in the Diwali Festival at Trafalgar Square, celebrating the Hindu New Year.
In London, United Kingdom, on October 09, 2022, participants engage in the Diwali Festival at Trafalgar Square, celebrating the Hindu New Year. | Photo credit: Ray Tang/Anadolu

Historical events, including China's nuclear test in 1964 and subsequent threats during the 1965 war, prompted India's pursuit of nuclear capabilities. In response, India conducted its inaugural nuclear test in 1974, followed by additional tests in 1998. Despite facing international criticism and sanctions, India refrained from joining key nuclear treaties, citing concerns over their discriminatory nature. Embracing a 'no first use' policy, India prioritizes 'Minimum Credible Deterrence' as it advances towards achieving a nuclear triad capability. Furthermore, indigenous military projects, including ballistic missile defense and fifth-generation fighter jets, signify India's quest for self-reliance in defense technology.

Post-Cold War dynamics have witnessed India bolstering its ties with the United States and the European Union, particularly in economic, strategic, and military realms. The landmark civilian nuclear agreement of 2008 paved the way for enhanced cooperation between India and the US, despite India's non-party status to key nuclear treaties. Subsequent agreements with Russia, France, the UK, and Canada further solidified India's position in civilian nuclear energy collaboration. This strategic shift positioned India as the sixth de facto nuclear weapons state, marking a significant milestone in its nuclear trajectory.

Under the leadership of the President, who serves as the supreme commander of the armed forces, India boasts the world's second-largest military force, comprising 1.45 million active personnel. Consisting of the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard, this formidable defense apparatus underscores India's security preparedness. The defense budget witnessed a substantial increase in fiscal year 2022–23, reaching US$70.12 billion, indicative of India's prioritization of defense modernization. Notably, India's significant arms imports, coupled with indigenous defense initiatives such as the South Asia Satellite and procurement of advanced defense systems from Russia, underscore its proactive approach to safeguarding national security interests.


The supreme commander of India's armed forces, comprising the world's second-largest military force with 1.45 million active troops, is the President of India. This military force encompasses the Indian Army, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Notably, India's defence budget for fiscal year 2022–23 increased by 9.8% compared to the previous year, reaching US$70.12 billion. This expenditure underscores India's significant focus on defence against regional threats and bolstering capabilities, including recent agreements such as the procurement of S-400 Triumf missile defence systems from Russia.

Bangalore's skyline.
Bangalore's skyline emerges as a symbol of India's economic vitality, blending modern architectural marvels with the city's vibrant tech hub.

In 2022, the Indian economy, valued at $3.46 trillion by nominal rates, ranked as the fifth-largest globally. However, by purchasing power parity, it stood as the third-largest at approximately $11.6 trillion. Over the past two decades, India has maintained an average GDP growth rate of 5.8%, positioning itself as one of the world's fastest-growing economies. Notably, India's economic trajectory shifted dramatically in 1991, transitioning from protectionist policies to a more liberalised economic framework, encouraging foreign trade and direct investments.

The National Stock Exchange of India (NSE).
The National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) stands as a beacon of the nation's financial prowess, facilitating robust capital markets, fostering investment opportunities, and shaping India's economic standing with resilience and innovation.
India's agro-economy.
India's agro-economy sustains millions, with agriculture employing over half of the nation's workforce and contributing significantly to the GDP

India boasts the world's second-largest labour force, numbering 522 million as of 2017. Its economic composition comprises a service sector contributing 55.6% to GDP, an industrial sector at 26.3%, and agriculture at 18.1%. Notably, India's economy benefits significantly from foreign remittances, with US$100 billion contributed in 2022 by 32 million Indians working abroad. The nation's agricultural and industrial sectors play pivotal roles, supported by major industries such as textiles, telecommunications, and software, facilitating substantial growth in external trade over the years.

Experiencing consistent economic growth, India's nominal GDP per capita has risen steadily over the years, reaching an estimated US$1,730 in 2016 and projected to continue its upward trajectory. Despite this growth, India's per capita GDP remains lower compared to other developing Asian nations. Nonetheless, projections indicate promising growth potential, with reports suggesting that India's GDP at purchasing power parity could surpass that of the United States by 2045, driven by factors like a burgeoning middle class and a vibrant manufacturing sector.

India's economic landscape is further enriched by its burgeoning middle class and robust innovation ecosystem. With a strong focus on sectors like information technology, India has become a preferred outsourcing destination globally, positioning itself favorably in various competitiveness indices. Moreover, India's consumer market ranks among the world's largest, reflecting its dynamic economic growth and potential.

Finally, India's cost of living presents a unique advantage, with several Indian cities featuring prominently among the world's most affordable. This affordability, as highlighted in the Worldwide Cost of Living Report 2017, underscores India's diverse economic landscape and offers insights into its competitive positioning on the global stage.

During the 1950s, India actively supported the process of decolonization across Africa and Asia, emerging as a prominent figure within the Non-Aligned Movement. Despite initially fostering amicable relations with its neighbor China, India found itself engaged in a conflict with China in 1962, a confrontation widely perceived as a source of humiliation. Subsequently, in 1967, India effectively thwarted a ChiAlaska is situated in the northwest, and Hawaii extends its territorial reach into the Pacific Ocean. Notable cities located on the Atlantic Coast include New York, which is a global hub for finance and culture, and the capital, Washington, DC. Chicago, a Midwestern metropolis, is renowned for its significant architectural influence. Meanwhile, on the West Coast, Los Angeles' Hollywood district is famous for its iconic contributions to filmmaking.


India boasts the second-largest telecommunication industry globally, with an impressive subscriber base exceeding 1.2 billion. It makes a substantial contribution of 6.5% to the nation's GDP. Surpassing the US in the third quarter of 2017, India solidified its position as the world's second-largest smartphone market, following China.

Within India thrives the automotive sector, marked as the world's second-fastest-growing. Notably, domestic sales surged by 26% in the period of 2009–2010, while exports escalated by 36% during 2008–2009. Remarkably, by 2022, India emerged as the world's third-largest vehicle market, outpacing Japan, and standing alongside giants like China and the United States. By the end of 2011, the Indian IT industry employed a considerable 2.8 million professionals, generating revenues nearly reaching US$100 billion, contributing significantly to GDP and merchandise exports.

India's pharmaceutical industry commands a global presence, with an extensive network of 3000 companies and 10,500 manufacturing units. This vast infrastructure positions India as the world's third-largest pharmaceutical producer, with a specialization in generic medicines. Impressively, India caters to 50–60% of global vaccines demand, with exports amounting to billions of dollars. Locally, the pharmaceutical market surges, estimated at a substantial US$42 billion. Additionally, India stands among the top 12 biotech destinations globally, with the industry exhibiting a robust growth rate of 15.1% in the fiscal year 2012–2013.

Economic and social obstacles

India, despite experiencing economic growth in recent decades, grapples with persistent socio-economic hurdles. A significant portion of the population, the largest among nations, lived below the World Bank's international poverty line in 2006. However, there has been a notable reduction in this proportion over the years. While the statistics vary, it remains evident that India struggles with poverty and malnutrition, particularly among its children, despite efforts like the Midday Meal Scheme aimed at alleviating these issues.

During a rural health care camp, a doctor examines a senior adult man in his home as part of a medical assessment.

The prevalence of modern slavery in India is alarming, with millions estimated to be affected by bonded labor, child labor, human trafficking, and other forms of exploitation. Although there has been a decline in child labor figures according to the 2011 census, the magnitude of the problem remains substantial and demands continued attention.

Economic inequality among India's states has been on the rise since 1991, with stark disparities observed in per-capita net state domestic product between the richest and poorest states. While corruption perceptions have shown improvement, India still grapples with issues of transparency and accountability, as reflected in its rankings on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

India's history is marred by recurring outbreaks of epidemic and pandemic diseases, with recent events such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the persistent threat of cholera underscoring the nation's vulnerability to public health crises.

Demographics, languages and religion

Depicting the language families of South Asia, this image provides an overview of linguistic connections in the region.
Depicting the language families of South Asia, this image provides an overview of linguistic connections in the region.

Based on the 2011 provisional census, India ranked as the world's second-most populous nation, housing over 1.2 billion individuals. This population experienced a growth rate of 17.64% from 2001 to 2011, a slight decrease from the previous decade. Notably, the human sex ratio stood at 940 females per 1,000 males, with a median age of 28.7 years in 2020. The population surge, attributed to medical advancements and agricultural progress like the "Green Revolution," traces back to the post-colonial era census of 1951, which tallied 361 million inhabitants.

Life expectancy in India averages at 70 years, with women slightly surpassing men at 71.5 and 68.7 years, respectively. The availability of healthcare professionals stands at approximately 93 physicians per 100,000 individuals. The urbanization trend, witnessed through a 31.2% growth rate in urban areas from 1991 to 2001, signifies a significant demographic shift. Despite this, over 70% of the populace resided in rural regions in 2001. Notably, the urban population increased to 31.16% by the 2011 Census, with a noticeable deceleration in rural population growth since 1991.

India boasts a diverse linguistic landscape, comprising several hundred languages. Indo-Aryan languages dominate with 74% of the population, followed by Dravidian languages at 24%, and Austroasiatic or Sino-Tibetan languages at 2%. While Hindi serves as the official language, English plays a vital role in business and education. Each state and union territory recognizes one or more official languages, with 22 "scheduled languages" acknowledged in the constitution.

Religiously, Hinduism holds the majority at 79.80%, followed by Islam at 14.23%, with Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and other faiths constituting the remainder. With a predominantly non-Muslim demographic, India holds the distinction of hosting the world's third-largest Muslim population, a fact of significance.


Spanning over 4,500 years, the cultural history of India is rich and diverse. During the Vedic era, which lasted from around 1700 BCE to 500 BCE, the foundational elements of Hindu philosophy, mythology, theology, and literature were established. Concepts such as dhárma, kárma, yóga, and mokṣa originated during this period and continue to influence Indian society today. India stands out for its religious pluralism, with Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Islam, Christianity, and Jainism coexisting as major religions within the nation. The dominant faith, Hinduism, has been shaped by a multitude of historical influences, including the teachings of the Upanishads, the principles outlined in the Yoga Sutras, the devotional fervor of the Bhakti movement, and the philosophical insights of Buddhism.

Every 12 years, the Kumbh Mela Hindu Festival takes place, attracting religious pilgrims who bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges River in Allahabad. During this time, masses of pilgrims can be seen crossing the bridges in the area.
Every 12 years, the Kumbh Mela Hindu Festival takes place, attracting religious pilgrims who bathe in the holy waters of the Ganges River in Allahabad. During this time, masses of pilgrims can be seen crossing the bridges in the area.

Creative art

With roots stretching back through antiquity, India's art tradition, shaped by diverse Eurasian cultures, stands as a testament to its richness and depth. In the first millennium, Indian art, particularly Buddhist art, spread to Central, East, and Southeast Asia, impacting regions heavily influenced by Hindu art as well. Evidence of artistic expression dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization, with seals featuring animal and human figures. Notably, the "Pashupati" seal unearthed in Mohenjo-daro remains a prominent artifact from this period. Following this, ancient Indian art primarily survives in the form of religious sculptures and coins, with Mauryan art marking the onset of imperial artistic endeavors in North India.

Shiva Pashupati.
Shiva Pashupati is an Indus Valley seal: A significant archaeological artifact from the ancient Indus Valley Civilization, depicting a figure seated in yogic posture surrounded by animals. The seal is believed to date back to the mature phase of the civilization (circa 3300–1300 BCE), offering insights into religious and cultural practices of the time.
A Rajput Painting.
A Rajput Painting: Traditional art form originating in the Indian subcontinent, characterized by intricate detailing, vibrant colors, and themes depicting Indian mythology, royal courts, and cultural traditions. Flourished primarily in the Rajput-ruled kingdoms of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh during the 16th to 19th centuries.

The earliest significant sculptures predominantly reflect Buddhist themes, discovered in stupas like Sanchi and rock-cut sites such as Ajanta and Ellora. Hindu and Jain sites emerged later, showcasing a diverse religious tapestry. Gupta art, reaching its pinnacle around 300 CE - 500 CE, is revered as a classical period, witnessing a resurgence of Hindu sculpture, notably seen in the Elephanta Caves. While northern art became somewhat rigid post-800 CE, the southern regions, under Pallava and Chola rule, flourished in both stone and bronze sculpting, producing iconic works like the dancing Shiva.

Although ancient paintings are scarce, the Ajanta Caves offer invaluable glimpses into court life. Manuscripts from Eastern India from the 10th century onwards provide insights into early painting styles, predominantly Buddhist and later Jain. The emergence of Deccan painting, preceding Mughal miniatures, ushered in a new era of secular art, focusing on portraiture and princely life. This style proliferated among Hindu courts, notably the Rajputs, fostering various artistic expressions. With European demand, Indian artists began producing Company paintings, blending indigenous styles with Western influences. In the 19th century, urban folk art such as Kalighat paintings surfaced, setting the stage for the Bengal School of Art, which heralded modern Indian art.


Taj Mahal
The Taj Mahal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, stands as an architectural masterpiece in Agra, India. Built in the 17th century by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal, it represents the pinnacle of Mughal architecture and attracts millions of visitors annually.

Indian architectural heritage, epitomized by landmarks like the Taj Mahal and various Indo-Islamic and South Indian structures, reflects a synthesis of indigenous styles and external influences. Regional variations in vernacular architecture contribute to the diverse architectural tapestry of the nation. 'Vastu shastra', a doctrine attributed to Mamuni Mayan, delves into the harmonious relationship between natural laws and human habitats, employing meticulous geometry and directional alignments to mirror cosmic principles. In the realm of Hindu temple construction, it intertwines with the 'Shilpa Shastras', drawing from the symbolic 'Vastu-Purusha mandala', symbolizing the universal essence. Commissioned by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century, the Taj Mahal stands as a testament to eternal love and is celebrated as a pinnacle of Islamic architectural excellence, acknowledged on the UNESCO World Heritage List. 'Indo-Saracenic Revival architecture', a product of British colonial influence, emerged in the late 1800s, blending elements of Indo-Islamic aesthetics with Western architectural sensibilities.


Literature in ancient India, dating from 1500 BCE to 1200 CE, primarily existed in Sanskrit. Notable Sanskrit texts include the Rigveda, Mahābhārata, and the Ramayana, along with works by Kālidāsa and Mahākāvya poetry. Tamil literature, such as the Sangam literature, emerged around 600 BCE and encompassed diverse poetic expressions by numerous authors. From the 14th to the 18th centuries, India's literary landscape underwent significant transformation due to the rise of devotional poets like Kabīr, Tulsīdās, and Guru Nānak, showcasing a wide range of perspectives. The 19th century saw Indian writers exploring social issues and delving into psychological portrayals, while the 20th century witnessed the influence of figures like Rabindranath Tagore, a Nobel laureate in Literature, shaping Indian literary discourse.

Entertainment and cultural expression

Encompassing a wide array of traditions and regional styles, Indian music forms a rich tapestry, ranging from classical compositions to lively folk melodies. Classical music, represented by the Hindustani and Carnatic schools, coexists alongside a rich array of folk musical expressions. From the pulsating rhythms of bhangra in Punjab to the graceful movements of odissi in Odisha, Indian dance encapsulates a spectrum of regional and classical forms. Eight classical dance styles, including bharatanatyam and kuchipudi, have been officially recognized for their cultural significance by India's National Academy of Music, Dance, and Drama.

Woman performing Bharatanatyam dance.
Eight Indian dance styles, including Bharatanatyam depicted in this photo, have been officially designated as classical by India's National Academy of Performance Arts.

Indian theatre, a dynamic fusion of music, dance, and dialogue, draws inspiration from Hindu mythology and historical events. From the lively performances of nautanki in North India to the vibrant yakshagana in Karnataka, theatrical traditions reflect the cultural diversity and artistic ingenuity of the nation. The National School of Drama, situated in New Delhi, serves as a prestigious institution for training aspiring actors and directors, nurturing the country's vibrant theatrical heritage.

The Indian film industry, renowned for its prolific output and global appeal, boasts a plethora of regional cinematic traditions. From the glitz and glamour of Bollywood to the poignant storytelling of Tamil cinema, Indian films captivate audiences worldwide. Television broadcasting, which commenced in India in the late 1950s, has evolved into a dominant medium of mass communication. With millions of viewers tuning in to satellite channels, television exerts a profound influence on the cultural landscape of Indian society, shaping trends and narratives across the nation.


Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India.
Haridwar, Uttarakhand, India.

The social fabric of traditional Indian society often revolves around a system of social hierarchy, with the Indian caste system embodying a significant portion of this stratification. These social classes, delineated into thousands of endogamous hereditary groups referred to as jātis or "castes," encapsulate various social restrictions prevalent on the Indian subcontinent. Untouchability was officially abolished in India in 1950 with the ratification of the constitution, followed by the implementation of further anti-discriminatory legislation and social welfare schemes.

Integral to Indian culture are deeply rooted family values, where multi-generational patrilineal joint families have historically been the norm, although nuclear family structures are increasingly prevalent in urban settings. A vast majority of Indian marriages are arranged with the consent of the individuals involved, typically orchestrated by parents or other respected family elders. Marriage is considered a lifelong commitment, evidenced by an exceptionally low divorce rate, with less than one in a thousand marriages culminating in divorce. Despite legal restrictions, child marriages persist, particularly in rural areas, with many girls marrying before attaining the legal marriageable age of 18. India faces significant challenges with female infanticide and foeticide, leading to imbalanced gender ratios. Dowry, though outlawed, remains a widespread practice across societal strata, contributing to rising incidents of dowry-related deaths, predominantly through bride burning, despite stringent anti-dowry laws. Numerous festivals observed throughout India have strong ties to religious customs. Notable among them are Diwali, Ganesh Chaturthi, Thai Pongal, Eid ul-Fitr, Bakr-Id, Christmas, Vaisakhi, Holi, and Durga Puja.


According to the 2011 census, approximately 73% of India's population has achieved literacy, marking a substantial improvement in literacy rates over the years. This growth is evident across gender lines, with 81% literacy among men and 65% among women. Historical data reveals a remarkable upward trend, with literacy rates in 1981 at 41%, 53%, and 29% for overall, men, and women respectively. Such progress contrasts sharply with earlier figures, such as those from 1951, 1921, and 1891, which stood at 18%, 7%; 27%, 12%; and 9%, 2% respectively. An interesting correlation highlighted by Latika Chaudhary suggests that increased caste and religious diversity correlates with reduced private spending on education, impacting the proliferation of primary schools and literacy rates.

In a classroom in Rajasthan, India, Indian school children engage in learning activities.
In a classroom in Rajasthan, India, Indian school children engage in learning activities.

India boasts the world's second-largest education system, comprising over 900 universities, 40,000 colleges, and 1.5 million schools. Notably, affirmative action policies have reserved a significant portion of higher education seats for historically disadvantaged groups, contributing to a more inclusive system. The improvement in India's education landscape is often lauded as a key driver of its economic progress in recent decades.


The traditional attire of India, predominantly draped, has roots dating back to ancient times. Women adorned themselves with the sari, a lengthy piece of fabric intricately wrapped around the body, while men favored the dhoti, a shorter cloth serving as a lower garment. Over time, modifications incorporated an underskirt and blouse for women, enhancing both comfort and security. This draped style prevailed until the emergence of stitched clothing, popularized during Muslim rule, introducing garments like shalwars, pyjamas, kurtas, and kameez. Despite this shift, southern India maintained a steadfast loyalty to traditional draped attire. 

Traditional clothing in India often includes men wearing kurtas and women wearing sarees, reflecting the country's diverse cultural heritage and regional customs.
Traditional clothing in India often includes men wearing kurtas and women wearing sarees, reflecting the country's diverse cultural heritage and regional customs.

Shalwars, characterized by their wide waist and tapered bottoms, became a staple, often pleated and secured by a drawstring. Variations included churidars and pyjamas, offering diverse styles for different occasions. The kameez, a long tunic, complemented these trousers, while the collarless kurta added a touch of simplicity or elegance, depending on its embellishment. These garments endured in southern India amidst the changing landscape of fashion in the north.

In recent decades, Indian fashion has undergone significant transformation, particularly in urban areas. The sari, once ubiquitous, now takes a back seat to more contemporary attire, such as churidars and jeans, especially among younger urban women. Office attire has evolved with the advent of air conditioning, enabling men to opt for sports jackets year-round. Formal events witness a fusion of traditional and modern styles, with bandgala and Nehru jackets gaining popularity among the middle and upper classes. However, the dhoti, once a symbol of Indian nationalism, has largely faded from urban settings, symbolizing the evolving cultural landscape.


The cornerstone of a typical Indian meal revolves around a cereal prepared in a simple manner, accompanied by an array of savory dishes bursting with flavor. Commonly, the cereal could comprise steamed rice, chapati, or idli, paired with savory accompaniments rich in lentils, pulses, and vegetables, delicately spiced with a blend of aromatic seasonings. These dishes may also incorporate poultry, fish, or meat, with ingredients occasionally intermingled during cooking.

A traditional dining setup, often represented by a thali, features the main cereal at the center, surrounded by various flavorful accompaniments served in smaller bowls. Unlike sequential consumption, Indian meals are enjoyed by simultaneously combining different elements, whether through mixing, folding, wrapping, scooping, or dipping techniques, creating a harmonious culinary experience.

A spread of traditional Indian dishes including Curry Butter Chicken, Palak Paneer, Chicken Tikka, Biryani, Papad, Dal, Rice with Saffron, and Naan Bread, showcasing the rich variety and flavors of Indian cuisine against a white background.
A spread of traditional Indian dishes including Curry Butter Chicken, Palak Paneer, Chicken Tikka, Biryani, Papad, Dal, Rice with Saffron, and Naan Bread, showcasing the rich variety and flavors of Indian cuisine against a white background.

India boasts diverse vegetarian cuisines, deeply intertwined with the cultural and geographical backgrounds of its communities. Rooted in principles such as ahimsa, or non-violence towards all living beings, prevalent in religious doctrines like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, vegetarianism holds significant sway, particularly in regions such as southern India, Gujarat, and the Hindi-speaking belt. Despite the widespread consumption of meat, India maintains a relatively low proportion of meat in its overall diet, with dairy products often preferred as the primary source of animal protein.

Over the centuries, India has absorbed various cooking techniques, notably during the Mughal Empire era. Influences such as the pilaf and marination methods from regions like Persia enriched Indian culinary traditions, leading to the evolution of iconic dishes like biryani. The fusion of Persian yogurt marinades with Indian spices and ingredients like onions and garlic gave rise to beloved dishes now integral to festive dining across India. Additionally, the global popularity of tandoori chicken, originating from Central Asia but popularized in India, reflects the dynamic culinary landscape shaped by historical migrations and cultural exchanges.

Sports and recreation

Players engaged in a cricket match, showcasing the sport's widespread popularity and cultural significance in India, where it serves as a national pastime and a professional pursuit.
Players engaged in a cricket match, showcasing the sport's widespread popularity and cultural significance in India, where it serves as a national pastime and a professional pursuit.

Various traditional sports indigenous to India, such as kabaddi, kho kho, pehlwani, and gilli-danda, alongside martial arts like Kalarippayattu and marma adi, maintain significant popularity. The game of chess, believed to have originated as chaturaṅga in India, has seen a surge in Indian grandmasters in recent times. Notably, Viswanathan Anand clinched the Chess World Champion title in 2007, reigning until 2013, and secured victories in the Chess World Cup in 2000 and 2002. R Praggnanandhaa, at 18 years old, emerged as the runner-up in the Chess World Cup 2023, while Parcheesi traces its roots to Pachisi, a traditional pastime once enjoyed by Mughal emperor Akbar the Great. Additionally, the tabletop game carrom, originating in India, enjoys widespread popularity.

Cricket stands as the premier sport in India, boasting major domestic leagues like the Indian Premier League. Professional leagues in various other sports, such as football with the Indian Super League and kabaddi with the Pro Kabaddi league, also thrive.

India boasts remarkable achievements in cricket, securing victory in two Cricket World Cups and claiming the inaugural T20 World Cup Championship in 2007. The country also clinched the Champions Trophy twice, in 2002 and 2013, along with winning the only edition of the World Championship of Cricket in 1985.

Individuals engaging in yoga, a centuries-old discipline originating from India, to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Yoga has gained global popularity for its various health benefits and stress-relief techniques.
Individuals engaging in yoga, a centuries-old discipline originating from India, to promote physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Yoga has gained global popularity for its various health benefits and stress-relief techniques.
Children engage in a game of Lagori, a popular outdoor activity in India. Played with a ball and a pile of flat stones, the game fosters teamwork, coordination, and physical activity among participants.
Children engage in a game of Lagori, a popular outdoor activity in India. Played with a ball and a pile of flat stones, the game fosters teamwork, coordination, and physical activity among participants.

The Indian presence extends beyond cricket, with eight field hockey gold medals in the summer Olympics and notable successes in tennis, shooting, badminton, boxing, wrestling, and football across different regions. Moreover, India's dominance in events like the South Asian Games, particularly evident in basketball where the national team has secured victories in four out of five tournaments, showcases its prowess on the international stage.

India's hosting credentials for international sporting events are impressive, having organized or co-hosted various tournaments such as the Asian Games, ICC Men's and Women's Cricket World Cups, South Asian Games, Hockey World Cup, and Commonwealth Games. Additionally, the nation hosts annual events like the Maharashtra Open, Mumbai Marathon, Delhi Half Marathon, and Indian Masters. While the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix debuted in 2011, it was discontinued from the F1 calendar after 2014. Introduced in 2011, the Formula 1 Indian Grand Prix was discontinued from the F1 calendar after the 2014 season concluded.

The Population of India and Interesting Facts

India is the second-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 1.3 billion people as of 2022. Its population is diverse, comprising various ethnicities, languages, religions, and cultures, making India a melting pot of traditions and customs.

Intriguing facts about India

  • Bollywood, based in Mumbai, is the largest film industry in the world in terms of the number of films produced annually. Indian cinema, known for its colorful musicals and dramatic storytelling, has a massive global following.

  • India is the world's largest democracy, with a parliamentary system of government and regular free and fair elections.

  • India has a long history of scientific and mathematical achievements, including the invention of the decimal system, concept of zero, and contributions to astronomy, medicine, and metallurgy.

  • India has made significant advancements in space exploration, with the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully launching satellites, missions to the Moon (Chandrayaan) and Mars (Mangalyaan), and plans for future interplanetary missions.

  • India is the birthplace of several major religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. It is also home to sacred pilgrimage sites and spiritual centers such as Varanasi, Bodh Gaya, Amritsar, and Rishikesh.

Post a Comment