Driving Directions India
INDIA is a vast republic in South Asia dominated in the extreme north by the world’s youngest and highest mountains, the Himalayas. The diverse Republic of India encompasses a wide variety of geographical features and human societies. It is the second-most densely populated country globally and is home to one in six of the world’s population, many of whom live in extreme poverty conditions.
The country has three main geographical divisions: the high peaks of the Himalayas which dominate the northern border; the densely populated, fertile northern plains which are drained by the Ganges and Brahmaputra rivers; and the ancient Deccan Plateau region to the south, which extends to the southern tip of the country.
The Himalayas form a massive mountain barrier that extends across India’s northern boundary across the entire length – a distance of about 2,400 kilometers or 1,500 miles. Among the many massive peaks, including Mount Everest and K2, is Kanchenjunga, which at 8,598 meters or 28,208 feet is India’s highest mountain and the third most massive mountain in the world after Everest and K2.
The northern plains region, which lies south of the Himalayas, extends into the northeastern states, drained by the great river, the Ganges and its tributaries, and the River Brahmaputra east. It is a lowland, well-watered region of fertile alluvial soils. The Deccan Plateau is bounded on either side by the Western Ghats Mountains and Eastern Ghats Mountains. It is a ridged and rocky region, interrupted by low mountains and hills and dissected by deep valleys.
India’s climate is hot with monsoon rainfall between June and September, but icy winter conditions experienced in the northern mountains. In central, lower regions, temperatures can fall to near freezing at night in winter. In many areas, high humidity and heat combine to make conditions unpleasant.
Natural vegetation varies greatly from tropical forests to desert plants in the arid northwest. Wildlife is equally diverse and includes rare animals such as the tiger, Asian elephant, rhino, snow leopard, panther, and clouded leopard. Several types of monkeys, reptiles, antelope, deer, black bear, buffalo, ibex, wild goat, and many bird species are also present.
About 70 percent of the population depend on agriculture for their living, and the lower slopes of the Himalayas represent one of the world’s best tea growing areas. Rice, sugar cane, and wheat are grown in the Ganges plain, and there is a comprehensive system of irrigation to aid agriculture. India is self-sufficient in all of its primary food crops, and the principal exports include precious stones and jewelry, engineering products, clothes, and chemicals.
India became a republic in 1950 and, in its first half-century of existence, has continued to be troubled by internal dissent and external disputes, particularly with Pakistan over the status of Kashmir. India is frequently subjected to famine and natural disasters such as devastating flooding and too severe cyclones to add to its problems.
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One of the largest countries on Earth and one of the most heavily populated, India is a nation of great geographic diversity. The extraordinary geographic variety of India can be divided into three main regions: the Himalayan mountain range of the north; the broad and flat alluvial plain of the Ganges River to the south of the mountains; and, even further south, the vast peninsula that juts into the Indian Ocean, creating the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, with small island chains offshore. India’s mountainous northeastern region is nearly separated from the rest of the country by Bangladesh and Nepal. India’s wonderfully diverse geographical features, encompassing everything from snowy peaks to the desert to rainforest, are at risk from environmental damage, mostly due to population pressure. Many local groups have organized to fight pollution and protect wildlife. Local political parties changed the names of several well-known Indian locations during the 1990s. Most noteworthy of these changes are the cities of Mumbai (formerly Bombay), Chennai (formerly Madras) and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), and the state of Bangla (formerly West Bengal).
India’s peninsula juts into the Indian Ocean, with the Arabian Sea on the east and Bengal Bay on the west. The country is situated on vital maritime trade routes between the Middle East, Africa, and East Asia.
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The Silk Road is an ancient seven thousand-mile-long trading route that extended from east-central China through India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. It essentially connected the region of the Yellow River Valley in China to the Mediterranean Sea. From there, costly Chinese silk could be transported throughout the Roman Empire. The Silk Road served as a transportation route for trade and as a route of cultural exchange, as travelers and traders from different regions shared religious, political, and social beliefs and customs.
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