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Area: 3,165,596 sq km (1,222,243 sq mi)
Highest Point: Kanchenjunga 8598 m (28,208 ft) above sea level
Lowest Point: Sea level along the coast

Average Temperatures
New Delhi
January 14° C 57° F
July 31° C 89° F
January 24° C 75° F
July 27° C 81° F
Average Annual Precipitation
640 mm (25 in)

1810 mm (71 in)

POPULATION: 931,044,000 (1995 estimate)
Population Density: 294 persons/sq km (762 persons/sq mi) (1995 estimate)
Urban/Rural Breakdown: 27% Urban; 73% Rural (1995 estimate)

Largest Cities
Bombay 9,925,891
Delhi 7,206,704
Calcutta 4,399,819 (1991 census)

Largest Metropolitan Areas
Bombay 12,596,243
Calcutta 10,916,272
Delhi 8,375,188 (1991 census)

Ethnic Linguistic Groups
72% Indo-Aryans
25% Dravidians
3% Other

Official Languages
Hindi, English

Other Languages
14 languages recognized for official purposes: Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu; many other languages and dialects

83% Hinduism
11% Islam
2% Christianity
2% Sikhism
2% Other
(including Buddhism and Jainism)

Form of Government
Federal republic

Head of State
Elected by an electoral college to a five-year term

Head of Government
Prime minister
Appointed by the president


Bicameral legislature
Lok Sabha
(House of the People)
545 members

Rajya Sabha
(Council of States)
245 members

Voting Qualifications
Universal suffrage for all citizens age 18 and older

Highest Court
Supreme Court

Armed Services
Army, Navy, Air Force
1,265,000 troops; voluntary service
Political Divisions
25 states and seven territories

Major Universities and Colleges
University of Bombay,Bombay
University of Calcutta,Calcutta
University of Madras,Madras
University of Delhi,Delhi

Gross Domestic Product : US$1,250 billion
World GDP ranking: 5th
GDP per head: US$1,300
Annual growth: 7%
Inflation: 9%
Major industries: Agriculture (rice, wheat, tea, rubber), textiles, coal, steel
Major trading partners: CIS, US, Japan and EU

Chief Economic Products
Sugarcane, rice, wheat, tea, cotton, jute, vegetables, melons, sorghum, millet, cashews, coffee, spices, livestock

Shrimps and prawns, croakers, Indian oil sardines, Bombay ducks, anchovies, Indian mackerel, marine catfish

Iron ore, coal, bauxite, manganese, mica, dolomite, copper, petroleum, natural gas, chromium, lead, limestone, phosphate rock, zinc, gold, silver

Textiles, iron and steel, processed agricultural products, machinery, transportation equipment, nonferrous metals, fertilizer, refined petroleum, chemicals, computer software

Employment Breakdown
67% Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing
20% Services
13% Industry

Major Exports
Gems and jewelry, engineering goods, garments, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, cotton yarn and fabrics, leather and leather goods, marine products, iron ore, tea, vegetables and fruit, petroleum products, handmade carpets

Major Imports
Petroleum and petroleum products, nonelectric machinery, precious and semiprecious stones, inorganic chemicals, iron and steel, fertilizers, electrical machinery, resins and plastics

Major Trading Partners
United States, Japan, Germany, Commonwealth of Independent States, Great Britain, Belgium and Luxembourg, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia



India has three major seasons: winter, summer and monsoon. The winter months (November-March) are pleasant throughout India with bright sunny days. In the Northern plains, the minimum temperature drops steeply and there is snowfall in hills. In Maharashtra, the south and eastern India, however, December and January are pleasantly cool, never very cold.

The summer months (April-June) are hot in most parts of India. During this time `Loo' (Hot waves) and `Andhi' (Dust storm) are often experienced.

The south-west monsoon usually breaks about the beginning of June on the west coast and reaches elsewhere later. With the exception of the south-eastern areas, India receives the major share of its rainfall between June and September. The south-eastern areas receive most of the rainfall from the north-east monsoon between mid-October and December-end.


The subcontinent of India lies in south Asia, between Pakistan, China and Nepal. To the north it is bordered by the world's highest mountain chain, where foothill valleys cover the northernmost of the country's 26 states. Further south, plateaus, tropical rain forests and sandy deserts are bordered by palm fringed beaches.

The mainland comprises of four regions, namely, the great mountain zone, plains of the Ganga and the Indus, the desert region and the southern Peninsula.

The Himalayas comprise three almost parallel ranges interspersed with large plateaus and valleys. Some of the highest peaks in the world are found these ranges. The mountain wall extends over a distance of about 2,400 kms with a varying depth of 240 to 320 km. In the east, between India and Myanmar and India and Bangladesh, hill ranges are much lower, Garo, Khasi, Jaintia and Naga Hills, running almost east-west, join the chain to Mizo and Rakhine Hills running north-south.

The plains of the Ganga and the Indus, about 2,400 km long and 240 to 320 km broad, are formed by basins of three distinct river systems - the Indus, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra.

The desert region can be divided into two parts - the great desert and the little desert. The great desert extends from the edge of the Rann of Kachch beyond the Luni river northward. The little desert extends from the Luni between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur upto the northern wastes.

The Peninsular Plateau is marked off from the plains of the Ganga and the Indus by a mass of mountain and hill ranges varying from 460 to 1,220 meters in height. Prominent among these are the Aravalli, Vindhya, Satpura, Maikala and Ajanta. The Peninsula is flanked on one side by the Eastern Ghats where the average elevation is about 610 meters and on the other by the Western Ghats where it is generally from 915 to 1,220 meters, rising in places to over 2,440 meters. The southern point of plateau is formed by the Nilgiri Hills where the Eastern and the Western Ghats meet.

On-line Information

- About 3500 BC Civilization sprang up in the Indus River valley.

- About 1700 BC Aryan tribes invaded India and settled mainly in the Punjab region of India. Their arrival set off a series of wars.

- 326 BC Alexander the Great began to conquer India before his own troops forced him to turn back.

- About AD 150-450 Sanskrit culture thrived under the Kushan Empire, and later under the Gupta Empire. Trade with the Middle East and the Roman Empire greatly enriched India.

- 520 AD Invading Huns under Mihirakula destroyed Gupta power in India.

- 1175-about 1200 Islamic invaders from Afghanistan overran much of northern India. They founded the Delhi Sultanate.

- 1398 The Mongol conqueror Tamerlane sacked Delhi. The Delhi Sultanate split into small warring kingdoms.

- 1498 The Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama arrived at Kozhikode. Portugal soon dominated Indian Ocean trade.

- 1600 The English East India Company was founded.

- 1757 English East India Company forces under Robert Clive won control of Bengal at the Battle of Plassey. The company soon began expanding its control.

- 1857 The Sepoy Mutiny erupted. Indian forces massacred British residents at Delhi, Lucknow, and many other places. The revolt was later crushed by British forces, and the British government assumed full control of India.
- 1885 The Indian National Congress was founded.

- 1919 British forces killed more than 400 Indians and wounded over 1200 in the Amritsar Massacre.

- 1920-1921 Mahatma Gandhi introduced nonviolent tactics that transformed the Indian independence movement into a popular campaign.

- 1947 British India was divided into the independent states of India and Pakistan. Jawaharlal Nehru became India's first prime minister.

- 1974 India exploded an atomic bomb, altering the balance of power in South Asia.

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