India, formally the Republic of India, is a South Asian nation. It is the world's seventh-largest nation in terms of land area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy. It has land boundaries with Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. It is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the south, the Arabian Sea to the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast. India sits near Sri Lanka and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, and its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand, Myanmar, and Indonesia.
Modern people arrived in India from Africa no later than 55,000 years ago. Their lengthy habitation, which began in various types of seclusion as hunter-gatherers, has resulted in an area that is very varied, second only to Africa in terms of human genetic variety. Settled life first appeared on the subcontinent 9,000 years ago on the western edges of the Indus river basin, eventually maturing into the Indus Valley Civilisation of the third millennium BCE. By 1200 BCE, an early version of Sanskrit, an Indo-European language, had spread into India from the northwest, becoming the language of the Rigveda and documenting the birth of Hinduism in India. The Dravidian languages of India were displaced in the north and west. By 400 BCE, Hinduism had developed caste division and exclusion, while Buddhism and Jainism had evolved, establishing social hierarchies unrelated to heredity. The loose-knit Maurya and Gupta Empires located in the Ganges Basin arose from early political consolidations. Their age was characterized by a vast range of inventiveness, but also by the decreasing position of women and the adoption of untouchability into an organized system of religion. The Middle Countries of South India introduced Dravidian-language scripts and religious traditions to Southeast Asian kingdoms.
Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism established themselves on India's southern and western shores in the early medieval century. Muslim troops from Central Asia invaded India's northern plains on a regular basis, ultimately creating the Delhi Sultanate and absorbing northern India into the cosmopolitan networks of medieval Islam. The Vijayanagara Empire established a long-lasting composite Hindu culture in south India in the 15th century. Sikhism evolved in the Punjab, opposing institutionalized religion. In 1526, the Mughal Empire brought two centuries of relative calm, leaving a legacy of dazzling architecture. The British East India Company gradually expanded its influence, transforming India into a colonial economy while simultaneously strengthening its sovereignty. The British Crown took over in 1858. The rights promised to Indians were gradually given, but technical advances were made, and notions about education, modernity, and public life took hold. A strong and prominent nationalist movement arose, known for peaceful resistance, and proved a crucial role at the end of British authority. The British Indian Empire was partitioned into two sovereign dominions in 1947, a Hindu-majority Dominion of India and a Muslim-majority Dominion of Pakistan, amid widespread death and migration.
Since 1950, India has been a federated republic administered by a democratic parliamentary government. It is a multicultural, multilingual, and multiethnic society. The population of India increased from 361 million in 1951 to 1.211 billion in 2011. During the same period, its nominal per capita income climbed from US$64 to US$1,498 per year, and its literacy rate improved from 16.6 percent to 74 percent. India has grown from a relatively impoverished nation in 1951 to a fast-growing major economy and a powerhouse for information technology services, with an increasing middle class. It has a space program that includes multiple extraterrestrial missions that are either planned or accomplished. Indian films, music, and spiritual teachings are becoming more important in worldwide society. India has significantly decreased its poverty rate, albeit at the expense of expanding economic disparity. India is a nuclear-weapons state with substantial military spending. It has had unsolved issues with its neighbors, Pakistan and China, over Kashmir since the mid-twentieth century. Gender inequality, child hunger, and growing levels of air pollution are among the socioeconomic difficulties that India confronts. With four biodiversity hotspots, India's territory is megadiverse. Its forest cover accounts for 21.7 percent of its total area. India's wildlife, which has always been treated with tolerance in Indian culture, is preserved in these forests and elsewhere.