The land of the maharajahs, known to Europeans through the tales of novelists and travel books as swarming with traffic, inhabited by a gracious people that seemed to have inherited harmony of movement and solemn dignity from the ancient civilizations that settled here thousands of years before Christ.
The earlier European travelers brought back spices, tea, ornaments, often animals as monkeys or snakes, but most of all their memories of the hospitality and philosophy, that kind of superior acceptance of life as pain, and the doctrine of reincarnation that is basic in the Indian respect of all life forms.


Administrative division

India is a union of 28 states (each with its own elected government) and 7 union territories that are governed by central administrators, apart from Puducherry and the National Capital Territory of Delhi that have their own locally elected administration.
States: Andhra Pradesh | Arunachal Pradesh (13) | Assam | Bihar | Chhattisgarh (9) | Goa | Gujarat | Haryana (4) | Himachal Pradesh (3) | Jammu and Kashmir | Jharkhand (10) | Karnataka | Kerala (20) | Madhya Pradesh | Maharashtra | Manipur (16) | Meghalaya | Mizoram (18) | Nagaland (14) | Orissa | Punjab (1) | Rajasthan | Sikkim (11) | Tamil Nadu | Tripura (17) | Uttar Pradesh | Uttarakhand (5) | West Bengal (12) Union Territories: Andaman and Nicobar Islands | Chandigarh (2) | Dadra and Nagar Haveli (8) | Daman and Diu (7) | Lakshadweep | National Capital Territory of Delhi (6) | Puducherry (19, 4 enclaves)

In short

Area: 3,287,590 km² -- Population: over 1.1 billion inhabitants -- Density: 329 sq km -- Government: Federal Republic -- Capital: New Delhi -- Language: Hindi, English -- Religion: -- Currency: Rupia indiana -- Phone Area Code: +91 -- internet suffix: .in -- Member of: UNO


Until recent times the Indian population was divided into castes, which differed from place to place, sometimes reaching thousands. This social stratification had very ancient origins. Thousands of years ago people of Arian stock coming from the Pamir plateau invaded the fertile plains of India and submitted the local aboriginal populations. The invaders called themselves Pudra while the defeated were called Sudra, impure. Within the winners other castes appeared: the Brahmins, that is the priests; the Katryar, or warriors; then the merchants, the farmers.

Those who occupied the lowest positions among the impure were called "pariah" or untouchable: they fed on meat and carried out the most degrading jobs. The divisions involved also physical space that had to be kept between the castes: 4 steps between a Brahmin and a soldier, 2 steps between a soldier and a farmer, 3 steps between a farmer and a pariah. Centuries ago a pariah might even killed if he appeared on a public street, since it was believed that their shadow would leave a srain on the souls of other citizens.

The Territory

The 7th largest country in the world, India is situated in the northern hemishere, with the Himalayan Range to the north and the fertile Plain of the Indo and Gange to the center and east. Along the border with Pakistan is the Thar Desert, and the center of the Indian peninsula is occupied by the huge Deccan plateau.

The Climate

Tropical in the south, the climate becomes more temperate and even alpine in the Himalaya chain and the Hindu Kush mountains, which also block the cold winds from central Asia. This keeps the bulk of the Indian subcontinent warmer than most locations at similar latitudes. Between June and September the summer monsoon winds bring abundant rainfall. India's climate is strongly influenced by the Himalayas and the Thar Desert.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

logo Unesco
  • Cultural sites: Agra Fort | Ajanta Caves | Ellora Caves | Taj Mahal | Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram | Sun Temple, Konârak | Group of Monuments at Hampi | Churches and Convents of Goa | Fatehpur Sikri | Khajuraho Group of Monuments | Elephanta Caves | Great Living Chola Temples | Group of Monuments at Pattadakal | Buddhist Monuments at Sanchi | Humayun's Tomb, Delhi | Qutb Minar and its Monuments, Delhi | Mountain Railways of India | Mahabodhi Temple Complex at Bodh Gaya | Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka | Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park | Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus) | Red Fort Complex
  • Natural sites: Kaziranga National Park | Keoladeo National Park | Sundarbans National Park | Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks | (in danger) Manas Wildlife Sanctuary