), officially the Republic of India
: Bh?rat Ga?ar?jya
), is a country in South Asia
. It is the second-most populous
country, the seventh-largest country
by land area, and the most populous democracy
in the world. 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
, and Bhutan
to the north; and Bangladesh
to the east. In the Indian Ocean
, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka
and the Maldives
; its Andaman and Nicobar Islands
share a maritime border with Thailand
arrived on the Indian subcontinent
from Africa no later than 55,000 years ago.
Their long occupation, initially in varying forms of isolation as hunter-gatherers, has made the region highly diverse, second only to Africa in human genetic diversity
. Settled life
emerged on the subcontinent in the western margins of the Indus river
basin 9,000 years ago, evolving gradually into the Indus Valley Civilisation
of the third millennium BCE.
By 1200 BCE, an archaic form
, an Indo-European language
, had diffused
into India from the northwest, unfolding
as the language of the Rigveda
, and recording the dawning of Hinduism
The Dravidian languages
of India were supplanted in the northern and western regions.
By 400 BCE, stratification
had emerged within Hinduism,
had arisen, proclaiming social orders
unlinked to heredity.
Early political consolidations gave rise to the loose-knit Maurya
and Gupta Empires
based in the Ganges Basin
Their collective era
was suffused with wide-ranging creativity, but also marked by the declining status of women, and the incorporation of untouchability
into an organised system of belief. In South India
, the Middle kingdoms
exported Dravidian-languages scripts and religious cultures to the kingdoms of Southeast Asia
In the early medieval era, Christianity
, and Zoroastrianism
put down roots on India's southern and western coasts.
Muslim armies from Central Asia
intermittently overran India's northern plains,
eventually establishing the Delhi Sultanate
, and drawing northern India into the cosmopolitan networks of medieval Islam
In the 15th century, the Vijayanagara Empire
created a long-lasting composite Hindu culture in south India.
In the Punjab
emerged, rejecting institutionalised religion.
The Mughal Empire
, in 1526, ushered in two centuries of relative peace,
leaving a legacy of luminous architecture.
Gradually expanding rule of the British East India Company
followed, turning India into a colonial economy, but also consolidating its sovereignty
. British Crown rule
began in 1858. The rights promised to Indians were granted slowly, but technological changes
were introduced, and ideas of education, modernity and the public life took root.
A pioneering and influential nationalist movement emerged, which was noted for nonviolent resistance and became the major factor in ending British rule. In 1947 the British Indian Empire
into two independent dominions
, a Hindu-majority Dominion of India
and a Muslim-majority Dominion of Pakistan
, amid large-scale loss of life and an unprecedented migration. (Full article...