India: Overview

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Updated: 2017-03-10.

India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in southern Asia. It is a vastly-populous country, with over 1.2 billion people, making it the second most populous country in the world; India has over one-sixth of the world’s population. New Delhi is the capital of India, and Mumbai is the largest city. India is growing at such a fast rate that it is expected to soon overtake China, becoming the most-populated country in the world.

India essentially makes up the Indian Subcontinent (a geographical landmass that is large enough and distinct enough to be separately distinguished from its larger body, the continent itself), though it shares the subcontinent with Pakistan and Bangladesh. India borders Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east, Bhutan to the northeast, China and Nepal to the north, Pakistan to the west, and Sri Lanka to the south (with a maritime border).

India is intense, in every way. It is such a large country (7th largest by area), and cultures, languages, customs, and foods can be completely different in different parts of the country. Hindi is the most-widely spoken language in the country, with about half a billion speakers, but other important languages are Urdu, Malayalam, Telugu, Gujarati, Tamil, Punjabi, Oriya, Marathi, Bengali, and Kannada. The languages in India are so diverse, that they fail to all fall in to even the same language family, instead making up members or several language families.

Time in India, unlike most other countries, is 5 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, making it one step more difficult to translate time differences between other countries. The climates in India can vary with the location, and India is popular for its monsoon weather system, where it rains a lot for a set portion of the year. Most of India experiences three seasons per year: summer, winter, and the monsoon/rainy season, though winter is all but nonexistent in southern India, as it is very close to the equator.

Most Indians are very religious, and it is important to travel through with respect for their customs and holidays. Just like the numerous languages that make up India, the country is home to many different religions, as well. The most widespread religions are Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism.

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