India is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and one of the biggest democracies in the world. India is bounded by the Himalayas on the north, Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east. It is bordered by Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
India is home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires. The Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth. Four major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here. Whereas, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium of the Christian era and shaped the region's diverse culture. From the early eighteenth century, it was annexed by the British East India Company and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century. India became an independent nation in 1947.
India is a federal constitutional republic with a parliamentary democracy consisting of 28 states and seven union territories. India is a pluralistic, multilingual and multiethnic society. The Indian economy is the world's eleventh largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth largest by purchasing power parity (PPP).
India is a federation with a parliamentary form of government, governed under the Constitution of India. It is a constitutional republic and a representative democracy. Federalism in India defines the power distribution between the center and the states.
The Constitution of India is one of the longest and the most exhaustive among constitutions of the independent nations in the world. It came into force on 26 January 1950. The preamble of the constitution defines India as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic. India has a bicameral parliament operating under a Westminster-style parliamentary system. The President of India is the head of state elected indirectly by an electoral college for a five-year term. The Prime Minister is the head of government and exercises most executive power.
In 2009, India's nominal GDP stood at US$1.243 trillion, which makes it the eleventh-largest economy in the world. According to the PPP terms, India's economy is the fourth largest in the world at US$3.561 trillion. With an average annual GDP growth rate of almost 6% for the past two decades, India is one of the fastest growing economies in the world.
India has the world's second largest labour force, with more than 500 million people. In terms of output, the agricultural sector accounts for 28% of GDP; the service and industrial sectors make up 54% and 18% respectively. Major agricultural products include rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes etc. Major industries include textiles, telecommunications, chemicals, food processing, steel, transport equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, software. India's trade has reached a relatively moderate share of 24% of GDP in 2006, up from 6% in 1985. In 2008, India's share of world trade was about 1.68%. Major exports include textile goods, gems and jewelry, software, engineering goods, chemicals, and leather manufactures. Major imports include crude oil, machinery, gems & fertilizers.
With an estimated population of 1.2 billion, India is the world's second most populous country after China. The last 50 years have seen a rapid increase in population. India's urban population increased 11-fold during the twentieth century and is increasingly concentrated in large cities. By 2001 there were 35 million-plus cities in India. Major metropolises like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata have a population of over 10 million each.
As per the 2001 census, over 800 million Indians (80.5%) are Hindus followed by Muslims (13.4%), Christians (2.3%), Sikhs (1.9%), Buddhists (0.8%) and Jains (0.4%). India has the third-highest Muslim population in the world and has the highest population of Muslims for a non-Muslim majority country.
India's literacy rate is 64.8% (53.7% for females and 75.3% for males). The state of Kerala has the highest literacy rate at 91% while Bihar has the lowest at 47%. The national human sex ratio is 944 females per 1,000 males. India's median age is 24.9, and the population growth rate of 1.38% per annum.
For more information please visit www.india.gov.in