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India

  • 3,287,263 kmē
  • 20°00'N
  • 77°00'E
  • 2,973,193 kmē
  • 314,070 kmē
  • 7,000 Km
  • 558,080 sq km
  • 1,189,172,906
  • New Delhi
  • Federal Republic
  • 15 August 1947
India Map
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India Map

India is the seventh largest country in the world and it has the second largest number of people. This vast land contains contrasts of every possible kind -in its peoples, languages, customs, religions and landscapes. There are massive mountain ranges hidden permanently under ice and snow, vast plains crossed by broad rivers, a parched desert, dense tropical forests and palm-fringed beaches.

By air many of these places can be reached within hours. However, most travellers use the crowded buses or trains and journeys can take days. Passengers cram onto the seats, often sharing space with chickens, goats or other animals that are being taken to market. About three quarters of India's vast population lives in rural areas, where most people are farmers. Crops of rice and wheat are grown in the fields and animals are kept on small plots of land. However, in recent years thousands of people have moved away from this traditional life to find work in the cities. Life is very different away from the countryside. Noisy crowds fill the city streets and rickshaws thread their way through the traffic. The larger cities are. now major industrial centres as India continues to make great progress in science, technology and industry. India is a country with many different ethnic groups and around a thousand languages and dialects. There are also a large number of religious faiths, although more than four-fifths of the population is Hindu. According to Hindu tradition, people are born into social classes called castes. Strict religious rules govern the food, clothing and jobs of each caste.

Family ties are very important in India and marriage is often seen more as a union between two families than a relationship between two individuals. It is the custom for parents to choose their children's marriage partners for them. Today some Indians are trying to break down these social rules by encouraging young girls or boys to pick their own husband or wife.