India, officially the Republic of India is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people. India is an extremely diverse country, with vast differences in geography, climate, culture, language and ethnicity across its expanse, and prides itself on being the largest democracy in the world.
India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories. Indian Standard Time (IST) is 5 hours and 30 minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+5.5).
It is flanked by the Indian Ocean on the South, the Arabian Sea on the Southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the Southeast. It shares land borders with Pakistan to the West; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the Northeast; and Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh to the East. India shares its naval border with Sri Lanka and Maldives in the South. India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
India experiences variety of climates ranging from tropical in the South to temperate and alpine in the Himalayan North. The elevated areas receive sustained snowfall during winters. The Himalayas and the Thar Desert strongly influence the climate of the country. The Himalayas work as a barrier to the frigid katabatic winds, which blow down from Central Asia. The Tropic of Cancer passes through the middle of the country and this makes its climate more tropical.
The history of India includes the prehistoric settlements and societies in the Indian subcontinent; the advancement of civilisation from the Indus Valley Civilisation to the eventual blending of the Indo-Aryan culture to form the Vedic Civilisation; the rise of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism; the onset of a succession of powerful dynasties and empires for more than three millennia throughout various geographic areas of the subcontinent, including the growth of Muslim dominions during the Medieval period intertwined with Hindu powers; the advent of European traders and privateers, resulting in the establishment of British India; and the subsequent independence movement that led to the Partition of India and the creation of the Republic of India.
India has a rich and multi-layered culture dominated by religious and spiritual ethos. India's cultural heritage is expressed through its myriad languages and it has a vast repertoire of classical and folk music, art and theatre, customs and religions.
India is well known all over the world as a country of festivals. Each and every festival is celebrated uniquely according to the rituals and beliefs. Each festival has its own history, legend and significance of celebration.
Festivals in India are characterized by colour, vivacity, enthusiasm, prayers and rituals. Some of the major festivals are Holi, Diwali, Eid, Gurupurab, Christmas. This country is a perfect example of unity in diversity as people from different religions like Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity and etc.
The traditional food of India has been widely appreciated for its fabulous use of herbs and spices. Indian cuisine is known for its large assortment of dishes. The cooking style varies from region to region and is largely divided into South Indian & North Indian cuisine.
Textile in India represents yet another cultural diversity. India is associated with a variety of fabrics from across the regions. From urban to rural populace, cloth is used in a different ways and styles.
The textiles of each state are manufactured by different techniques which make use of different designs, dyes, fabrics and vibrant colours. The specialty in the weave of the textiles in each region is developed based on location, climate and cultural influences.
Transport in India consists of transport by land, water and air. Public transport remains the primary mode of transport for most Indian citizens, and India's public transport systems are among the most heavily used in the world. India's rail network is the 4th longest and the most heavily used system in the world.