India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country and the largest democracy in the world. India has a coastline of over seven thousand kilometres, and borders Pakistan to the west, Nepal, the People's Republic of China and Bhutan to the north-east, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, it is adjacent to the island nations of Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia.
Home to the Indus Valley Civilization, a centre of important trade routes and vast empires, India has long played a major role in human history. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism, all have their origins in India, while Islam and Christianity enjoy a strong cultural heritage. Colonised as part of the British Empire in the nineteenth century, India gained independence in 1947 as a unified nation after an intense struggle for independence. The country has one of the most diverse populations, wildlife, geographical terrain and climate systems.
Geography of India
The Himalayas stretch from Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Arunachal Pradesh in the far east making up most of India's eastern bordersThe territory of India constitutes a major portion of the Indian subcontinent, situated on the Indian Plate, the northerly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate, in southern Asia. India's northern and northeastern states are partially situated in the Himalayan Mountain Range. The rest of northern, central and eastern India consists of the fertile Indo-Gangetic plain. In the west, bordering southeast Pakistan, lies the Thar Desert. The southern Indian Peninsula is almost entirely composed of the Deccan plateau, which is flanked by two hilly coastal ranges, the Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats.
India is home to several major rivers, including the Ganga, Brahmaputra, Yamuna, Godavari, Kaveri, Narmada, and Krishna. India has three archipelagos – Lakshadweep off the southwest coast, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands volcanic island chain to the southeast, and the Sunderbans in the Gangetic delta in West Bengal.
Climate in India varies from tropical in the south to more temperate in the Himalayan north, with elevated regions in the north receiving sustained snowfall in winters. India's climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert. The Himalayas, along with the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan, provide a barrier to the cold winds from Central Asia. This keeps most of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations in similar latitudes. The Thar Desert is responsible for attracting the moisture laden southwest monsoon winds in that provide most of India's rainfall between June to September.
Culture of India
The Taj Mahal in Agra is India's most popular tourist destination.India has a rich and unique cultural heritage, and has managed to preserve its established traditions throughout history whilst absorbing customs, traditions and ideas from both invaders and immigrants. Many cultural practices, languages, customs and monuments are examples of this co-mingling over centuries. Famous monuments, such as the Taj Mahal and other examples of Islamic-inspired architecture have been inherited from the Mughal dynasty. These are the result of a syncretic tradition that combined elements from all parts of the country.
Indian music is represented in a wide variety of forms. The two main forms of classical music are Carnatic from South India, and Hindustani from North India. Popular forms of music also prevail, the most notable being Filmi music. In addition to this are the diverse traditions of folk music from different parts of the country. Many classical dance forms exist, including the Bharatanatyam, Kathakali, Kathak, Kuchipudi, and Manipuri. They often have a narrative form and are usually infused with devotional and spiritual elements.
The earliest literary traditions in India were mostly oral, and were later transcribed. Most of these are represented by sacred works like the Vedas and the epics of the Mahabharata and Ramayana. Sangam literature from Tamil Nadu represents some of India's oldest traditions. There have been many notable modern Indian writers, both in Indian languages and in English. India's only Nobel laureate in literature was the Bengali writer Rabindranath Tagore. India is the third largest newspaper market in Asia with an estimated circulation of atleast 66 million copies daily in 2003.
The nation also produces the world's largest number of motion pictures every year. The most recognisable face is that of cinema production based in Mumbai, which produces mainly commercial Hindi films, often referred to as "Bollywood". There are also strong cinema industries based on the Kannada Tamil and Telugu languages.
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