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Land and people

INDIA is one of the oldest civilizations with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It is now the tenth industrialized country in the world. It covers an area of 32,87,263 sq. km, extending from the Himalayan mountains to the tropical rain forests of the south. India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. The mainland extends between latitudes 8 degree 4' and 37 degree 6' north, longitudes 68 degree 7' and 97 degree 25' east and measures about 3,214 km from north to south between the extreme latitudes and about 2,933 km from east to west between the extreme longitudes. It has a land frontier of about 15,200km. The total length of the coastline of the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is 7,516.6km.

ountries having a common border with India are Afghanistan and Pakistan to the north - west, China, Bhutan and Nepal to the north, and Myanmar and Bangladesh to the east. Sri Lanka is separated from India by a narrow channel of sea formed by the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Mannar.

The mainland comprises four regions, namely, the great mountain zone, plains of the Ganga and the Indus, the desert region and the southern Peninsula.

The climate of India may be broadly described as tropical monsoon type. There are four seasons:

winter (December-February)
hot, dry summer (March-May)
rainy south-western monsoon (June-September) and
retreating monsoon, also known as north-east monsoon in the southern Peninsula (October-November)

India's population, as on July 1, 2002 stood at 1.04 billion. The population growth rate was 1.51%. The second most populous country in the world, India is home to 16 per cent of world's population. The country, however, counts for 2.42 per cent of the total world area.

The literacy rate in the country is more than 65%.

The official language of India is Hindi in Devnagari script. The Official Languages Act (1963) also provides for the use of English for official purpose. Besides Hindi, there are 21 other languages recognized by the Indian Constitution. These languages are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujrati, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malyalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu.

India is a secular country where nearly all the religions of the world can be found. Most notably these include Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism and Zoroastrianism.

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