India is the seventh largest country in the world. Wow! The name ‘India’ comes from the historic local name for the Indus River. Let’s take a look at some facts about India!
There is evidence of human activity in India as long as 75,000 years ago. If you include hominids (which are humans and their fossil ancestors) and including Homo erectus, which are an extinct form of human, then evidence of life can be from around 500,000 years ago.
By 2500 BC, the Indus Valley civilization had developed round the Indus River (now in Pakistan) trading in crops grown on the fertile river plains. It was a powerful region and larger than any other ancient empires, including Egypt.
The population on Earth in 2013 was 7.125 billion of which 1.27 billion people live in India. United States has about 316.1 million and that makes India a highly populated country. Its official languages are Hindi and English though fourteen other languages are recognised as official in certain regions. The capital of India is New Delhi and their money is called the Rupee
In India you can expect a lot. On the one hand you get the desert in the west and the jungles in the northeast. The world’s largest mangrove forest is on the Bay of Bengal.
Here, tigers swim in the same rivers as dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and saltwater crocodiles. Now that would be something to see! This unique landscape is constantly under threat as sea levels rise and humans hunt illegally and clear trees for firewood.
A fertile area called the Ganges Plain of the Ganges river, covers much of northern India with layers of silt over 25,000 feet (7,620 meters) deep from soil deposited by rivers running from the Himalayas. The Himalayas is the world’s highest mountain range and famous for the highest mountain, Mount Everest.
These mountains house some of India’s rarest animals and plants like the snow leopard. Bears and black buck live lower down, and in the northeast, the tiger and one-horned rhinoceros can be found. India has about 65,000 animal species including elephants, pythons, river dolphins, and rhinos, and 12,000 types of flowering plants. It is the only country in the world with both lions and tigers. It’s also a bird watcher’s paradise.
For thousands of years, since the Hindu religion first evolved, respect for animal life has been an important part of their beliefs. Cows are sacred and cannot be harmed and many people are vegetarians, meaning they don’t eat meat. Much of the food in India is flavored with spices such as cinnamon, garlic, and cumin. Most meals include rice, vegetables, bread, and yogurt. Cows are allowed to wander through city streets, which often cause traffic jams.
Society throughout India is divided into social ranks, called castes which can never be changed and you are born into it. High castes include priests, landowners, and soldiers. So-called ‘Untouchables‘ have no caste and do the most menial jobs.
India is a very spiritual country. It has no official religion, but more than 80% of Indians are Hindu. About 13% are Muslim. Other religions include Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, which all began in India. The Jaines believe in non-violence to all living things to such a degree that they sweep the ground in front of them so as not to kill any insects. Now that’s awesome.
Watching movies is a popular pastime in India. Bombay is the center of India’s film industry. Ever heard of Bollywood? Well it’s the Indian alternative to Hollywood, and some amazing movies have been produced here. Indian children play soccer and badminton and board games like Parcheesi and backgammon. Basketball is definitely becoming more popular.
When Indian people greet each other they place their hands together and say “Namaste”, which means, “I bow to the divine in you.” Older people are treated with great respect in India. When greeting an elder, some Indians may touch their feet as a sign of respect. Remember this for if you ever visit India.
Clothing in India is different by area. Most women wear a sari made of colorful silk or cotton. The sari is one long piece of material that is draped around the body like a dress. Many men wear a dhoti which is a white piece of cloth wrapped around the hips and pulled through the legs. Not all people dress traditionally in India, but the clothing is always loose due to the heat.
Most children in India attend school. Some schools are modern and have books and computers. In poor areas of the cities or in country areas, there can be 40 to 60 students in one classroom with little or no supplies. Most schools teach in English because there are too many regional languages.
India’s parliamentary government came from the British who took control of India in 1858 after overthrowing their government. Holland, Great Britain and France were all eager to get to India’s spices, rice, silk, tea and jewels in the 1600’s and had created key trading posts in India.
After they became independent in 1947, one party, the Congress Party, and one family, the Nehru family, dominated politics in India for decades. Now, however, many parties compete for elected positions.
India’s economy is growing so fast that experts predict it will soon become one of the world’s leading markets. Indians are hard workers.