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India - fascinating subcontinent in Asia
India is the seventh largest country on earth and encompasses the Indian subcontinent, which is surrounded by the Indian Ocean, extending to the Himalayas and to the Asian mainland. The country shares borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.
India is named after the river Indus. The word is derived from the Sanskrit word “sindh” meaning “land on the river”. In Urdu, a dialect resembling Hindi and which is spoken in Pakistan, the country is called “hind"; the official name is Hindi Bharat (Union). Muslim conquerors called the northern part of India Hindustan, "land of Hindus".
The subcontinent consists of 28 states which define themselves to a large extend by their linguistic identities. 23 official languages are spoken, with more than 1600 dialects. Hindi is the common national language and is understood by approximately 30% of the population. In the south, on the other hand, Hindi is not understood. The “lingua franca” in the whole of the country is therefore English.
India: geography, climate, interesting facts
The highest point in India is the Kanchenjunga mountain with an altitude of 8,598 m (28,208 ft). This mountain rises in the east from Sikkim near Nepal. The highest mountain located exclusively in India is the Nanda Devi with 7,822 m (25,662 ft).
Apart from the mountain region with a high mountain climate, the north and centre of India is characterized by a subtropical continental climate. Here it can be very cold at night between November and February, and temperatures ranging from 40- 50 ° C are the norm in the months March to June. The south, on the other hand, is hot throughout the year with minimal temperature fluctuations and therefore more bearable.
The weather in India is determined by the monsoon, which passes over the continent every year in the months of June to October. Due to the topography of India, the monsoon can be very different from region to region. On the west coast, in the Himalayas and in north-eastern India, rainfall can be extreme and flood large areas. In western India, especially in the desert regions, hardly any rain falls which in some regions can go on for years causing serious droughts.
Indian culture has influenced the entire region of south-east Asia and determines the cuisine, clothing, music, dance and philosophy of this part of the world. Besides the commercial large-scale productions (Bollywood/Kollywood) there is a rich cinematic tradition. As a result of the diversity of languages there is no “one” Indian literature, but a great number of Indian literatures.
Attractions in India
Himalaya, a mountainous landscape with beautiful valleys for trekking and hill walking and encompassing the states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and the troubled regions of Jammu and Kashmir.
Central India with the capital Delhi and the Jamia Masjid (the largest mosque in India), the famous Taj Mahal in Agra, the holy city of Varanasi and the states: Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.
West India with enchanted desert towns and the palaces of the Maharajas with Jaipur and the Hawa Mahal (Palace of the Winds), Pushkar (in November site of the largest camel market in the world), the economic and film metropolis Mumbai (Bollywood) and the palm-fringed paradise beaches with the states: Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa.
East India is the most rural region of India, but is also the site of the culturally most significant city on the entire subcontinent, Calcutta, which is on the Gulf of Bengal. The states West Bengal and Orissa are also located here.
North India, with its famous Assam tea plantations, is the region on earth with the most rainfall. This region encompasses the states Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura and Meghalaya.
South India is the tropical paradise with colourful Hindu temples, dense jungle, and the landscape of the backwater. States here are Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and the island group of the Andamanen and Nikobaren in the Indian Ocean. The largest city is Madras with a population of about 5 million.