India, legitimately the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest nation by area, the second-most populated nation with over 1.2 billion individuals and the most populous democracy across the globe.

  • Capital: New Delhi
  • Dialing code: 91
  • Area: 3.287 million km²
  • GDP: $1.848 trillion USD (2011)
  • Currency: Indian rupee
  • Official language: Hindi, English

“So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left incomplete, either by man or nature, to make India the most amazing country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.” -Mark Twain

It is impossible not to be flabbergasted by India. Nowhere on Earth does humanity present itself in such a diverse, ingenious burst of cultures and religions, races and tongues. Every facet of the country presents itself on an enormous, extravagant scale, worthy in comparison only to the outstanding mountains that overshadow it. Maybe the only thing more challenging than to be indifferent to India would be to define or comprehend India entirely.

Location, geography and climate

Set aside from the rest of Asia by the superlative continental wall of the Himalayas, the Indian subcontinent touches three huge bodies of water and is instantly identifiable on any world map. It is the enormous, terrestrial mouth between Africa and Indonesia. This profuse, roughly triangular peninsula defines the Bay of Bengal to the east, the Arabian Sea to the west and the India Ocean to the south. India’s puzzle-board of 29 states holds almost every type of landscape thinkable. A copiousness of mountain ranges and national parks offer ample opportunity for eco-tourism and trekking and its sheer size promises something for everybody. From its northernmost point on the Chinese border, India spreads a good 2000 miles (3200 km) to its southern tip, where the island nation of Sri Lanka seems to be clutched out of India like a great tear, the synapse forming the Gulf of Mannar. India’s northern border is subjugated typically by Nepal and the Himalayas, the world’s highest mountain chain. Following the far-reaching mountains to the northeast, its borders narrow to a small canal that passes between Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, and Bhutan, then spreads out again to meet Burma in region called the “eastern triangle.” In addition to the Arabian Sea, its western border is defined completely by Pakistan.

India can be structured along the compass points. North India, shaped like a throat and two lungs, is the nation’s biggest region. It starts with the panhandle of Jammu and Kashmir, a dynamic zone with terrain varying from barren mountains in the far north to the lake country and forests near Srinagar and Jammu. Falling south along the Indus river valley, the North becomes flatter and more welcoming, broadening into the lush plains of Punjab to the west and the Himalayan foothills of Uttar Pradesh and the Ganges river valley to the East. Cramped between these two states is the capital city, Delhi. The southwestern boundary of the North is the large state of Rajasthan, whose major features are the Thar Desert and the fabulous “pink city” of Jaipur. To the southeast is southern Uttar Pradesh and Agra, home of the famed Taj Mahal.

West India encompasses the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and some portion of the massive, central state of Madhya Pradesh. The west coast extends from the Gujarat peninsula down to Goa, and it is ruled with some of India’s superlative beaches. The land along the coast is normally lush, with rainforests reaching southward from Bombay all the way into Goa. A lengthy mountain chain, the Western Ghats, separates the verdant coast from the Vindya Mountains and the dry Deccan plateau further inland.

Home of the sacred Ganges River and the majority of Himalayan foothills, East India begin with the states of Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Orissa, which encompass the westernmost portion of the region. East India also encompasses a region known as the eastern triangle, which is wholly distinct. This is the last swig of land that extends beyond Bangladesh, concluding in the Naga Hills along the Burmese border. India reaches its peninsular tip with South India, which starts with the Deccan in the north and ends with Cape Comorin, where Hindus believe that bathing in the waters of the three oceans will sweep away their immoralities. The states in South India are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, a preferred leisure destination of many people. The southeast coast, mirroring the west, also rests cozily underneath a mountain range i.e. the Eastern Ghats.

Owing to India’s size, its climate depends not only on the time of year, but also the location. At large, temperatures tend to be cooler in the north, particularly between September and March. The south is coolest between Novembers to January. In June, winds and warm surface currents start to move northwards and westwards, heading out of the Indian Ocean and into the Arabian Gulf. This produces a phenomenon known as the south-west monsoon, and it brings hefty rains to the west coast. Between October and December, a similar climatic pattern called the north-east monsoon appears in the Bay of Bengal, bringing rains to the east coast. Along with the two monsoons, there are two other seasons, spring and autumn. Though the word “monsoon” often evokes to mind images of bucketing floods and landslides, the monsoon seasons are not bad times to come to India. Though it rains virtually every day, the torrent tends to come and go rapidly, leaving behind a clean and sparkly landscape.