Officially known as the Republic of India, a sovereign nation in South Asia is known as India or Bharath. It is one of the largest and most populous countries in the world, home to the Indus Valley culture. India is a federal republic (29 states and 7 territories) governed by a parliamentary democracy
It is considered a developing nation, despite the enormous social and humanitarian difficulties that its complex political history has bequeathed it. It is one of the ten countries that possess nuclear weapons, although it does not sign the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The current territory of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar was known as the British Raj between 1858 and 1947. It was a colonial state under the political and economic control of the British Crown, part of the territories annexed by Great Britain in the 19th century.
In the independence struggle, the figure of Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), the political, philosophical, and spiritual leader of the independence movement, stood out.
Languages in India
The official languages of India are Hindi and English. There is no national language in India. In addition to the official languages, the constitution recognizes 22 regional languages, which include Hindi but not English, as scheduled languages. English is a colonial reminiscence that is still used as a language of business, as well as a language of higher education.
21 languages considered “classical” are also legally recognized, such as Sanskrit, Tamil, Kanada, and Telugu. The total number of dialects spoken in India amounts to 1652.
On the other hand, India was the cradle of two great linguistic families: Indo-Aryan (spoken by 74% of the population) and Dravidian (spoken by 24% of the population).
Geography: Where is India Located?
India is located in the Indian subcontinent, occupying an area of 3,287,263 km². It is bordered by the Indian Ocean to the south, the Arabian Sea to the west, and the Bay of Bengal to the east.
Politically, it borders Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. To the South, also, with the islands of Sri Lanka, Maldives, and Indonesia.
A brief history of India
The history of India deserves a separate chapter, due to its breadth and complexity. The first settlers of this territory date back to 6000 BC and flourished in the Indus Valley around 3300 BC, in present-day Pakistan.
This culture was succeeded by the Vedic period, which laid the foundations for Hinduism and saw the rise of numerous kingdoms in the country, known as “Mahajanapadas“. All of them were conquered by the Maurya Empire in the 3rd century BC, under the command of Ashoka the Great.
From the third century AD and for almost two centuries, the “Golden Age” of India, was part of the Maurya Empire. However, this kingdom fell under the rule of the Delhi Sultanate and then the Mongol Empire, both the result of invasions from Central Asia in the 10th and 12th centuries.
With the advent, in the sixteenth century, of the reign of Akbar the Great, India enjoyed cultural and economic progress. As a consequence came to a stage of religious harmony, in what was later known as the Maratha Empire, which ruled India until the eighteenth century.
The latter fell under the manipulation and influence of the European imperial powers. Thus, it was divided into a series of colonies, taking advantage of the internal conflicts it had.
These colonies started, in the 20th century, the fight for the Independence of India. The result was also the division of the territory, which in the west became a new republic: Pakistan.
The capital city of India
New Delhi, the capital city of India, is the seat of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of the Government. It is part of the Delhi metropolis and is one of its nine districts.
This city was planned by architects Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker. Although it was established in 1911, it was baptized with its current name in 1927 and inaugurated in 1931 by the viceroy of the British Raj.
In this city, there are two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which are Humayun’s Tomb and the Qutb complex. The metropolis is the most populous city in the country and the fifth in the world. Its urban area is the largest in India, at 1,482 square kilometers.
Economy of India
India’s economy is a free market. It is considered the fifth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power, with a gross domestic product of 4.06 trillion dollars in 2010.
It is a diversified economy, in which just over half of the activity is centered on agricultural work. The services sector is the most important in the nation, being responsible for a third of the national GDP.
The growth of the Indian economy soared in 1997 with an increase of 7% per year, after emerging from a socialist-type economy that prevailed for most of its history. However, poverty continues to be a disproportionate social and economic problem.
Culture in India
The culture in India is one of the most diverse and rich in the entire world. It is the cradle of four great religions: Hinduism (practiced by 80.5% of the population), Buddhism (0.8%), Jainism (0.4%), and Sikhism (1.9%). There are also foreign religions such as Islam (13.4%), Christianity (2.3%), Zoroastrianism, and Judaism.
This territory is the scene of extremely complex processes of syncretism and hybridization. The result is pluralism and respect for traditions that are not exclusive today. However, it is a society traditionally defined by a relatively strict caste hierarchy.
Indian cuisine is particularly rich in flavors with many different spices and seasonings and is characterized by the use of the tandoori, a clay oven that has been in use for 5,000 years. Their staple foods are based on wheat, rice, and lentils. It has the highest concentration of vegetarians on the planet (40% of the population is to some degree).
Finally, the arts, cinema, and music of India today represent an inexhaustible cultural source. Its products are consumed abroad, especially films from the “Bollywood” film industry, the largest in the world. Their name is an obvious appropriation of that of the American industry.
Population in India
India is the second-most populous country in the world, below China (1.37 billion) with 1.24 billion people. It is the most populous democracy on the planet and in the last fifty years shown sustained urban growth.
After the African continent, it is the geographical entity with the greatest cultural, linguistic and genetic diversity in the world. However, it faces far-reaching social problems, such as a 64.8% literacy rate, one million people dying each year due to lack of clean water, and endemic malaria rates.
Climate in India
The territory of India obeys the monsoon season, like many South Asian countries. This is because the Thar desert attracts moisture-laden winds from the southwest, which between June and October bring the rains to the country.
India has also been protected by the Himalayas from the cold katabatic winds of Central Asia. That is why it is usually warmer than the rest of the continent and then locations at similar latitudes.
It is divided into four major climatic regions:
- Humid tropical
- Dry tropical
- Humid subtropical
National symbols of India
The national symbols of India are:
- The national flag of India: Composed of a tricolor pavilion, known as tiranga: orange, white, and green. In the center, there is a navy blue wheel with twenty-four spikes, known as the Ashoka chakra. It was adopted in 1947 when independence from the British Crown was obtained.
- The national emblem of India. It is the figure of the Lion of Sarnath, erected in the 3rd century BC by Emperor Ashoka to mark the site where the Buddha first preached. Four lions represent power, courage, pride, and confidence. Standing on a circular abacus, in which four small animals are seen that represent the cardinal points.
- The national anthem of India. India’s national anthem is titled Jana-Gana-Mana (“The spirit of all the people”), written in Bengali by Rabindranath Tagore, Nobel Prize winner for Literature.
Main cities in India
In addition to the capital, the most important cities in India are:
- Mumbai. With 14,282,734 inhabitants.
- Bengaluru. With 6,386,490 inhabitants.
- Chennai. With 4,703,195 inhabitants.
- Calcutta. With 4,467,821 inhabitants.