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October 2011



India has a 2010 estimated population of 1.17 billion, in an area slightly larger than one-third the size of the U.S. (1.27 million sq. mi.). Its capital city, New Delhi (pop. 12.8 million) lies along the Yamuna River. Other major cities in India include: Mumbai (formerly Bombay) estimated population of 16.4 million, Kolkata (Calcutta) estimated pop. of 13.2 million, and Chennai (Madras) estimated pop. of 6.4 million.

The Indus Valley civilization, one of the world's oldest, flourished during the 3rd and 2nd millennia B.C. and extended into northwestern India. Aryan tribes from the northwest infiltrated onto the Indian subcontinent about 1500 B.C.; their merger with the earlier Dravidian inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. Islam spread across the subcontinent over a period of 700 years.

In the early 16th century, the Emperor Babur established the Mughal Dynasty which ruled India for more than three centuries. European explorers began establishing footholds in India during the 16th century. By the 19th century, Great Britain had become the dominant political power on the subcontinent. The British Indian Army played a vital role in both World Wars. Nonviolent resistance to British rule, led by Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, eventually brought about independence in 1947.

India's climate varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north. Its terrain consists of upland plain (Deccan Plateau) in south, flat to rolling plain along the Ganges, deserts in west, and Himalayas in north. India's natural resources include: coal, iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, rare earth elements, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, diamonds, petroleum, and limestone. The natural hazards facing India are: droughts, flash floods, as well as widespread and destructive flooding from monsoonal rains, severe thunderstorms, and earthquakes.

Rapid economic development is fueling India's rise on the world stage. In January 2011, India assumed a nonpermanent seat in the UN Security Council for the 2011-12 term. In October 2011, India chose a girl born in Uttar Pradesh to represent the 7th billion person on the planet. Uttar Pradesh is the most populous state in India, most of which is a low−lying alluvial plain formed by the Yamuna, Ganga, and Ghaghara Rivers. The state enjoys a mild climate, allowing for two harvests a year. The state has many religious centers as well as nineteen universities.

CIA World Factbook; U.S. State Department Background Notes; The Columbia Gazeteer, 10/2011; 7/2011; 10/2011

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