India, officially the Republic of India, covers an area of 32,87,263 sq. km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south. As the 7th largest country in the world, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west. It shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north-east; and Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives; in addition, India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between latitudes 8° 4′ and 37° 6′ north, longitudes 68° 7′ and 97° 25′ east and measures about 3,214 km from north to south between the extreme latitudes and about 2,933 km from east to west between the extreme longitudes. It has a land frontier of about 15,200 km. The total length of the coastline of the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 7,516.6 km.
India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It begins with a mysterious culture along the Indus River and in farming communities in the southern lands of India. The history of India is punctuated by constant integration of migrating people with the diverse cultures that surround India. Available evidence suggests that the use of iron, copper and other metals was widely prevalent in the Indian sub-continent at a fairly early period, which is indicative of the progress that this part of the world had made. By the end of the fourth millennium BC, India had emerged as a region of highly developed civilization.
The History of India begins with the birth of the Indus Valley Civilization, more precisely known as Harappan Civilization, flourished around 2,500 BC, in the western part of South Asia, what today is Pakistan and Western India and then proceeded by Vedic civilization, The Buddhist Era, Alexander’s Invasion, The Mauryan Empire, Gupta Dynasty, Harshavardhana, The Chalukyas of Badami, The Pallavas of Kanchi, The Palas, The Senas, The Pratihara, The Rashtrakutas, The Chola Empire of the South, Delhi Sultanate period (Slave dynasty, Khilji dynasty, Tughlaq dynasty, Sayyid dynasty, Lodhi dynasty), Vijayanagar Empire, Bahmani Kingdom, Bhakti Movement, The Mughal Empire, Rise of the Sikh Power, Indian Freedom Struggle and independent India.
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 for much of its long history. Four religions -Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism- originated here, whereas Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam arrived in the 1st millennium CE and also shaped the region’s diverse culture. The predominant religion, Hinduism, has been shaped by various historical schools of thought, including those of the Upanishads, the Yoga Sutras, the Bhakti movement, and by Buddhist philosophy.
India’s languages, religions, dance, music (Music of India differs from others as for a different type of dance has it’s own music), architecture, food, and customs differs from place to place within the country. The Indian culture, often labelled as an amalgamation of several cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced by a history that is several millennia old. Many elements of India’s diverse cultures, such as Indian religions, Indian philosophy and Indian cuisine, have had a profound impact across the world.
For generations, India has a prevailing tradition of the joint family system. It is a system under which extended members of a family – parents, children, the children’s spouses and their offspring, etc. – live together.