India (official name: the Republic of India; Hindi: Bhārat Gaṇarājya) is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, 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, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Myanmar 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 and Indonesia.
The Indian subcontinent was home to the Indus Valley Civilisation of the bronze age. In India’s Iron Age, the oldest scriptures of Hinduism were composed, social stratification based on caste emerged, and Buddhism and Jainism arose. Political consolidations took place under the Maurya and Gupta Empires; the peninsular Middle Kingdoms influenced the cultures of Southeast Asia. In India’s medieval era, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity, and Islam arrived, and Sikhism emerged, adding to a diverse culture. North India fell to the Delhi Sultanate; south India was united under the Vijayanagara Empire. In the early modern era, the expansive Mughal Empire was followed by East India Company rule. India’s modern age was marked by British Crown rule and a nationalist movement which, under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolence and led to India’s independence in 1947.
Economic liberalisation, begun in 1991, has caused India to become a fast growing major economy and a newly industrialised country. Its gross domestic product ranks sixth in the world in market exchange rates and third in purchasing power parity. Its per capita income ranks 133rd and 116th in the two measures. India faces challenges of poverty, corruption, malnutrition, and inadequate public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the second largest active military in the world and ranks high in military expenditure. India is a secular, federal republic, governed in a democratic parliamentary system, and administered in 29 states and seven union territories. A pluralistic, multilingual and multi-ethnic society, India is home to 1.3 billion people. It is also home to a high diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.