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India: a great country of strong contrasts

India (Bharat Juktarashtra), is a federal republic of South Asia, made up of 28 states and 7 territories. The country encompasses the entire Deccan Peninsula, between the Arabian Sea to the west, the Indian Ocean to the south and the Bay of Bengal to the east, and much of Hindustan. India is bordered by Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal and Buthan to the north. While to the northeast are Burma and Bangladesh.

Three archipelagos of the Indian Ocean are also part of India. The Laccadive islands which are coral atolls are located near the southwestern coast of Kerala. While the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which instead are islands of volcanic origin, are located in the Andaman Sea.

India is the seventh largest country in the world by surface, and the second most populous after China. The capital of India is New Delhi. While among the most important cities in the country we find Bombay (Mumbai), Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Calcutta (Kolkata), Madras (Chennai), Ahmedabad, Pune.

THREE LARGE GEOGRAPHICAL REGIONS

Geographically, India occupies most of the Indian subcontinent, it comprises three large regions. The first is the Deccan plateau, limited to the edges by the chains of the Ghats. The second is the indogangetic plain. A vast plain that is humid and tropical in the east, and sub-desertic in the west, where the Thar desert is located. Finally, the third region is the north and north-east region where the foothills and mountains of the southern Himalayas are located. The latter region corresponds to the states of Jammu-Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh to the north, and to Assam to the northeast.

The Himalayan belt of the country culminates in the western part in the large mountain massifs of Nanda Devi (7,817 meters), Kamet (7,756 meters) and Shilla (7,026 meters). While in the eastern part we find the Kangchenjunga (8,586 meters), the highest mountain in India and the third highest on Earth. Located on the border between Sikkim and Nepal.

THE GREAT INDIAN RIVERS

To the south of the arch of the Himalaya mountains, the immense indogangetic plain extends, which with an area of approximately 500,000 sq km is one of the largest alluvial plains on Earth. In this region flow the Ganges, the Indus and the Brahmaputra with their numerous tributaries. To the west of this plain, separated from the Aravalli mountains, lies the Thar desert.

The area of the great plains is delimited to the south by the escarpment of the Central Highlands, a region which represents the northern part of the Deccan. The Central Highlands, have an average altitude of 500-600 meters, and are delimited to the north-west by the Aravalli mountains (Guru Sikhar 1,722 meters). While to the south-west are the Vindhya and Satpura mountains, divided among them by the Narmada Valley. The central area of the highlands includes the Gondwana Plateau and that of Chota Nagpur to the east.

THE DECCAN PLATEAU

Peninsular India begins south of the Central Highlands. This part of India is characterized by the presence of a large territory that takes the name of the Deccan plateau, which has an altitude between 200 and 1,000 meters. The plateau is flanked to the west by the coastal chains of the Western Ghats, and to the east by the Eastern Ghats. The Western Ghats are much higher, on average about 1,000 meters high. In the southern part the Western Ghats reach the maximum heights of the Doda Betta (2,637 meters), and the Anai Mudi (2,695 meters). The southern end of the Indian peninsula is the Comorin cape (Kanyakumari).

The Himalayan chain originates the large rivers that flow through northern India, including the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, which flow into the Gulf of Bengal. The large rivers of the peninsula also include the Godavari, the Mahanadi, the Kaveri, and the Krishna, which flow into the Gulf of Bengal. While the Narmada and the Tapti flow into the Arabian Sea.

THE ECONOMY OF INDIA

The Indian economy is among those with the highest growth. Economic reforms have turned the country into the second fastest growing economy in the world. But despite this, the country still suffers from high levels of poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition. In fact, a quarter of the nation’s population is below the poverty line.

AGRICULTURE

Indian agriculture, given the extension of productive land, has considerable possibilities. The most widely cultivated cereal is rice, followed by wheat, millet and sorghum. There are numerous industrial crops, India is in second place in the world for the production of peanuts and sesame. The country is in third place in the world for the production of flax seeds and for cotton seeds. Finally, rapeseed and soybean production is also important. Among the textile plants, in addition to cotton, jute and hemp are of considerable importance. India is the world’s leading tea producer. Other important crops are mainly those of coffee, sugar cane, tobacco and rubber. The forest heritage of the country is remarkable (about 22% of the area).

BREEDING, FISHING AND NATURAL RESOURCES

Breeding makes very limited contributions to the Indian economy because of religious beliefs such as the prohibition for Hindus to consume beef. Fishing is also a marginal activity. The country’s natural resources include bauxite, chromite, coal, diamonds, iron ores, limestone, manganese, mica, natural gas, oil, titanium.

INDUSTRY AND TOURISM

As regards industrial activities, the steel, chemical and petrochemical, automotive, consumer electronics, food processing, pharmaceutical and textile sectors are developed. India has also become a major exporter of software and technological services. Tourism is an increasingly important economic sector.

  • Area: 3,287,590 sqkm. (Arable 52%, Pastures 4%, Forests and Woodlands 21%, Uncultivated and Unproductive 23%)
  • Population: 1,129,000,000 (2007 data)
  • State Capital: New Delhi.
  • Languages: The official language is Hindi. There are 21 other national languages: Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanscrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu and Urdu. Speaking and much used the English.
  • Religion: Hinduist 80%, Muslim 14%, Christian 2%, Sikh 2%.
  • Currency: Rupee (INR)
  • Time: UTC +5,30 hours.

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