India

Driving Directions India

INDIA is a vast republic in South Asia that is dominated in the extreme north by the world’s youngest and highest mountains, the Himalayas. The diverse Republic of India encompasses a huge variety of geographical features and human societies. It is the second-most densely populated country in the world and is home to one in six of the world’s population, many of whom live in conditions of extreme poverty.

The northeastern states, including Assam, are effectively cut off from the rest of India, connected only by a narrow corridor of land squeezed between the borders of Nepal and Bangladesh.

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.

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The Himalayas form a massive mountain barrier that extends across the entire length of India’s northern boundary – 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 largest mountain in the world after Everest and K2.

The northern plains region, which lies south of the Himalayas and extends into the northeastern states, drained by the great river, the Ganges and its tributaries, and by the River Brahmaputra in the 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.

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In general, India’s climate is hot with monsoon rainfall between June and September, but extremely cold 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 some 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 major food crops, and the main 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. To add to its problems, India frequently subjected to famine and natural disasters such as devastating flooding and extremely severe cyclones.

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