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India, officially the Republic of India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country (with over 1.2 billion people), and the most populous democracy in the world. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast. It shares land borders with Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast and Myanmar and Bangladesh to the east. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives. India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
The Indian subcontinent was home to the urban Indus Valley Civilisation of the 3rd millennium BCE &mdash one of the world's earliest civilizations. In the following millennium, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism began to be composed. Large-scale urbanization occurred on the Ganges in the first millennium BCE leading to the Mahajanapadas, and Buddhism and Jainism arose. Early political consolidations took place under the Maurya, Satavahana and Gupta empires the later peninsular Middle Kingdoms influenced cultures as far as Southeast Asia. In the medieval era, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam arrived, and Sikhism emerged, all adding to the region's diverse culture. Much of the north fell to the Delhi sultanate the south was united under the Vijayanagara Empire. The country was unified in the 17th century by the Mughal Empire. In the 18th century, the subcontinent came under the Maratha Empire and in the 19th under the British East India Company, later shifting to British crown rule. A nationalist movement emerged in the late 19th century, which later, under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolent resistance and led to India's independence in 1947.
In 2017, the Indian economy was the world's sixth largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity. Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and inadequate public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the second largest standing army in the world and ranks fifth in military expenditure among nations. India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories. India is widely recognized for its wide cinema, rich cuisine and lush wildlife and vegetation. It is a pluralistic, multilingual and multi-ethnic society and is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.
In the north, Mughal Empire landmarks include Delhi&rsquos Red Fort complex and massive Jama Masjid mosque, plus Agra&rsquos iconic Taj Mahal mausoleum. Pilgrims bathe in the Ganges in Varanasi, and Rishikesh is a yoga centre and base for Himalayan trekking.
Capital: New Delhi
Population: 1.324 billion (2016) World Bank
Official languages: Hindi, English
Currency: Indian Rupee (1 AUD = approx. 50 Indian Rupees)
Electricity: 230 Volts AC, plugs and sockets have either grounded / earthed 3 Pin connections (Type D) or ungrounded 2 pin connections (Type C).
Visa: A valid passport and visa are required for travel to India. The Indian government now offers two options for travelers: a traditional visa (stamped inside the traveler's passport) and an e-Visa which is issued electronically.
India is home to an extraordinary variety of climatic regions, ranging from tropical in the south to temperate and alpine in the Himalayan north, where elevated regions receive sustained winter snowfall. The nation's climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert.