Map of India




The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world, goes back at least 5,000 years. Aryan tribes from the northwest invaded about 1500 B.C.; their merger with the earlier inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. Arab incursions starting in the 8th century and Turkish in 12th were followed by European traders beginning in the late 15th century. By the 19th century, Britain had assumed political control of virtually all Indian lands. Nonviolent resistance to British colonialism under Mohandas GANDHI and Jawaharlal NEHRU led to independence in 1947. The subcontinent was divided into the secular state of India and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan. A third war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. Fundamental concerns in India include the ongoing dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, massive overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, and ethnic and religious strife, all this despite impressive gains in economic investment and output.


total: 3,287,590 sq km
land: 2,973,190 sq km
water: 314,400 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly more than one-third the size of the US

Land boundaries:

total: 14,103 km
border countries: Bangladesh 4,053 km, Bhutan 605 km, Burma 1,463 km, China 3,380 km, Nepal 1,690 km, Pakistan 2,912 km


7,000 km

Maritime claims:

contiguous zone: 24 NM
territorial sea: 12 NM
continental shelf: 200 NM or to the edge of the continental margin
exclusive economic zone: 200 NM


varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north


upland plain (Deccan Plateau) in south, flat to rolling plain along the Ganges, deserts in west, Himalayas in north

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Indian Ocean 0 m
highest point: Kanchenjunga 8,598 m

Natural resources:

coal (fourth-largest reserves in the world), iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, diamonds, petroleum, limestone, arable land

Land use:

arable land: 54.35%
permanent crops: 2.66%
other: 42.99% (1998 est.)

Irrigated land:

590,000 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

droughts; flash floods, as well as widespread and destructive flooding from monsoonal rains; severe thunderstorms; earthquakes

Environment - current issues:

deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; desertification; air pollution from industrial effluents and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage and runoff of agricultural pesticides; tap water is not potable throughout the country; huge and growing population is overstraining natural resources





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1,045,845,226 (July 2002 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 32.7% (male 175,858,386; female 165,724,901)
15-64 years: 62.6% (male 338,957,463; female 316,063,497)
65 years and over: 4.7% (male 24,975,465; female 24,265,514) (2002 est.)

Population growth rate:

1.51% (2002 est.)

Birth rate:

23.79 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Death rate:

8.62 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Net migration rate:

-0.07 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 1.03 male(s)/female
total population: 1.07 male(s)/female (2002 est.)

Infant mortality rate:

61.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 63.23 years
female: 63.93 years (2002 est.)
male: 62.55 years

Total fertility rate:

2.98 children born/woman (2002 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:

0.7% (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:

3.7 million (1999 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:

310,000 (1999 est.)


noun: Indian(s)
adjective: Indian

Ethnic groups:

Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3% (2000)


Hindu 81.3%, Muslim 12%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi 2.5% (2000)


English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people; there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit; Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language


definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 52%
male: 65.5%
female: 37.7% (1995 est.)



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Economy - overview:

India's economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of support services. Overpopulation severely handicaps the economy and about a quarter of the population is too poor to be able to afford an adequate diet. Government controls have been reduced on imports and foreign investment, and privatization of domestic output has proceeded slowly. The economy has posted an excellent average growth rate of 6% since 1990, reducing poverty by about 10 percentage points. India has large numbers of well-educated people skilled in the English language; India is a major exporter of software services and software workers. The poor monsoon of mid-2002 has reduced agricultural output substantially.


purchasing power parity - $2.66 trillion (2002 est.)

GDP - real growth rate:

4% (2002 est.)

GDP - per capita:

purchasing power parity - $2,540 (2002 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:

agriculture: 25%
industry: 25%
services: 50% (2002 est.)

Population below poverty line:

25% (2002 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 4%
highest 10%: 34% (1997)

Distribution of family income - Gini index:

38 (1997)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):

5% (2002 est.)

Labor force:

406 million (1999)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture 60%, services 23%, industry 17% (1999)

Unemployment rate:

9% (2002)


revenues: $48.3 billion
expenditures: $78.2 billion, including capital expenditures of $13.5 billion (FY01/02 est.)


textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, software

Industrial production growth rate:

5% (2002 est.)

Electricity - production:

547.12 billion kWh (FY 2000-01, utilities only) (2000)

Electricity - production by source:

fossil fuel: 83%
hydro: 14%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 3%

Electricity - consumption:

509.89 billion kWh (2000)

Electricity - exports:

321 million kWh (2000)

Electricity - imports:

1.385 billion kWh (2000)

Agriculture - products:

rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry; fish


$44.5 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Exports - commodities:

textile goods, gems and jewelry, engineering goods, chemicals, leather manufactures

Exports - partners:

US 22.8%, Hong Kong 5.8%, Japan 5.3%, UK 5.3%, Germany 4.6% (2000)


$53.8 billion (f.o.b., 2001)

Imports - commodities:

crude oil, machinery, gems, fertilizer, chemicals

Imports - partners:

Benelux 8.5%, US 8%, UK 6.2%, Japan 5.7%, Saudi Arabia 4.6% (2000)

Debt - external:

$100.3 billion (end-March 2001)

Economic aid - recipient:

$2.9 billion (FY98/99)


Indian rupee (INR)

Currency code:


Exchange rates:

Indian rupees per US dollar - 48.336 (January 2002), 47.186 (2001), 44.942 (2000), 43.055 (1999), 41.259 (1998), 36.313 (1997)

Fiscal year:

1 April - 31 March



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Telephones - main lines in use:

27.7 million (October 2000)

Telephones - mobile cellular:

2.93 million (November 2000)

Telephone system:

general assessment: mediocre service; local and long distance service provided throughout all regions of the country, with services primarily concentrated in the urban areas; major objective is to continue to expand and modernize long-distance network to keep pace with rapidly growing number of local subscriber lines; steady improvement is taking place with the recent admission of private and private-public investors, but, with telephone density at about two for each 100 persons and a waiting list of over 2 million, demand for main line telephone service will not be satisfied for a very long time
domestic: local service is provided by microwave radio relay and coaxial cable, with open wire and obsolete electromechanical and manual switchboard systems still in use in rural areas; starting in the 1980s, a substantial amount of digital switch gear has been introduced for local and long-distance service; long-distance traffic is carried mostly by coaxial cable and low-capacity microwave radio relay; since 1985 significant trunk capacity has been added in the form of fiber-optic cable and a domestic satellite system with 254 earth stations; mobile cellular service is provided in four metropolitan cities
international: satellite earth stations - 8 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region); nine gateway exchanges operating from Mumbai (Bombay), New Delhi, Kolkata (Calcutta), Chennai (Madras), Jalandhar, Kanpur, Gaidhinagar, Hyderabad, and Ernakulam; 4 submarine cables - LOCOM linking Chennai (Madras) to Penang; Indo-UAE-Gulf cable linking Mumbai (Bombay) to Al Fujayrah, UAE; India-SEA-ME-WE-3, SEA-ME-WE-2 with landing sites at Cochin and Mumbai (Bombay); Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) with landing site at Mumbai (Bombay) (2000)

Radio broadcast stations:

AM 153, FM 91, shortwave 68 (1998)


116 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:

562 (of which 82 stations have 1 kW or greater power and 480 stations have less than 1 kW of power) (1997)


63 million (1997)

Internet country code:


Internet Service Providers (ISPs):

43 (2000)

Internet users:

7 million (2002)




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total: 63,693 km (13,771 km electrified)
broad gauge: 45,103 km 1.676-m gauge
narrow gauge: 15,178 km 1.000-m gauge; 3,105 km 0.762-m gauge; 307 km 0.610-m gauge (2001)



total: 3,319,644 km
paved: 1,517,077 km
unpaved: 1,802,567 km (1996)



16,180 km
note: 3,631 km navigable by large vessels



crude oil 3,005 km; petroleum products 2,687 km; natural gas 1,700 km (1995)


Ports and harbors:

Chennai (Madras), Cochin, Jawaharal Nehru, Kandla, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay), Vishakhapatnam


Merchant marine:

total: 319 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 6,325,284 GRT/10,581,459 DWT
ships by type: bulk 115, cargo 80, chemical tanker 16, combination bulk 1, combination ore/oil 3, container 13, liquefied gas 9, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 74, short-sea passenger 2, specialized tanker 1
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: China 1, United Arab Emirates 10, United Kingdom 1 (2002 est.)



335 (2001)


Airports - with paved runways:

total: 234
over 3,047 m: 14
2,438 to 3,047 m: 48
914 to 1,523 m: 75
under 914 m: 17 (2001)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 80


Airports - with unpaved runways:

total: 101
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 7
under 914 m: 52 (2001)
914 to 1,523 m: 41



18 (2001)

Transnational Issues




Disputes - international:

discussions with Bangladesh remain stalled to delimit a small section of river boundary, demarcate and fence off the entire boundary, exchange 162 minuscule enclaves, and allocate divided villages while skirmishes, illegal trafficking, and violence along the border continue; Bangladesh has protested India's attempts to fence off high traffic sections of the porous boundary; dispute with Bangladesh over New Moore/South Talpatty Island in the Bay of Bengal; much of the rugged, militarized boundary with China is in dispute but talks to resolve the least contested middle sector resumed in 2001; with Pakistan, armed stand-off over the status and sovereignty of Kashmir continues; dispute with Pakistan over terminus of Rann of Kutch prevents extension of a maritime boundary; water-sharing problems with Pakistan persist over the Indus River (Wular Barrage); Joint Border Committee formed with Nepal in 2001 is intended to resolve 53 disputed sections of boundary covering an area of 720 sq km

Illicit drugs:

world's largest producer of licit opium for the pharmaceutical trade, but an undetermined quantity of opium is diverted to illicit international drug markets; transit point for illicit narcotics produced in neighboring countries; illicit producer of methaqualone; vulnerable to narcotics money laundering through the hawala system

This page was last updated on 13 February 2003