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India travel guide — India tourism and travel information

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about India

The Republic of India is a country rich in ethnic and cultural diversity and is the world's largest liberal democracy. India is also the second most populated country in the world with over one billion people speaking about four hundred languages. The Indian economy is the fourth largest in the world, in terms of purchasing power parity, and is the world's second-fastest growing economy. India has grown significantly, in terms of both population and strategic importance, in the last twenty years, attributed to economic reforms.

Strategically located in Asia, constituting most of the Indian subcontinent, India straddles many busy trade routes. It shares its borders with Pakistan, the People's Republic of China, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia are the nearby island nations in the Indian Ocean. Home to some of the most ancient civilisations in the world, India was formally ruled by the British for almost ninety years before gaining independence in 1947.

India geography

A land of varied landscape that occupies most of the Indian subcontinent, India has snow-capped peaks, tropical islands, fertile plains and a sandy desert to offer. 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.

India 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.

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 peaked between 2600 BC and 1900 BC. Around 1500 BC Aryans tribes from Central Asia migrated to India and melded with the indigenous culture. This modified version of Max Mueller's initial Aryan Invasion Theory is accepted in most academic institutions around the world. However, recent theories, held by a minority, deny the claim of ingress and posit continuity.

Classical Hinduism arose from the interaction of Vedic and indigenous culture. Later, Buddhism and Jainism flourished in a flurry of religious reformation, adding to the richness of Indian culture. The first millennium saw many highly developed independent kingdoms, some of which acquired imperial stature, come to the fore. The great Hindu Gupta dynasty oversaw the period which historians refer to as India's "Golden Age" and the Mauryas (including the Buddhist king Ashoka) made great contributions to the cultural landscape. Arts, mathematics, engineering, astrology, religion and philosophy all flourished under the patronage of kings. Most parts of India were ruled by the Delhi Sultanate and Mughal dynasty following the Islamic ingress during the second millennia, though some Hindu kingdoms remained in or subsequently arose to power.

With the arrival of the Portuguese, French and English traders, advantage was taken of the fractured, debilitate kingdoms to colonise India. In 1857, an insurrection amongst the army sepoys ensued in the popular Revolt of 1857 against the powerful British East India Company; this mobilised resistance, though short-lasting, was caused by the widespread resentment against discriminatory policies of the British. After the revolt, the Indian independence movements started demanding complete independence. On August 15th, 1947, India was finally granted independence from British rule and became a secular republic.

After independence, India has fought four wars with its neighbours. From 1975 to 1977, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a "State of Emergency in India", thereby freezing civil rights and detaining civilians without trial. The destruction of the Babri Masjid in 1992 resulted in religious strife in much of India. In the desert town of Pokhran, in 1998, the Indian government exploded five nuclear warheads, confirming India's nuclear status. In 1999, India mobilised its military in Kargil, Kashmir to repel Islamist terrorists who, under the auspices of the Pakistani government, were encroaching upon Indian territory.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "India".

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