India is around nine times larger than Germany and has a population of around 1.34 billion people. Its variety of languages, ethnicities, values and norms as well as natural spaces is fascinating and confusing at the same time. India is one of the economic climbers in recent years. At the same time, the country is characterized by widespread poverty.
India is a fascinating country of great diversity. This also applies to the different natural spatial conditions. Desert areas and fertile river plains, especially along the Ganges in the north of the country, flat stretches of land and the world’s highest peaks in the Himalayas determine the external appearance. India is the second most populous country on earth after China. At the beginning of 2017, around 1.34 billion people lived in India.
India sees itself as a secular republic and is described as the largest democracy in the world – a designation that is without a doubt quantitatively true, with some qualifications. Indian history has a tradition that goes back over four thousand years.
With the economic reforms introduced in the early 1990’s, the country began its economic rise and turned towards a social market economy. Today, India is one of the leading countries in the world in industries such as information technology or research, especially biotechnology.
With its diversity of ethnicities, languages and castes, India offers a picture of confusing differentiation. This becomes particularly clear in the social space and here in the large number of so-called Jatis, these are social groups in which people are, as it were, born into. The Jati shapes the identity of the individual and structures society.
Everyday life & practical information
India is full of surprises, both in a positive and a negative sense. Practical information on everyday life in India is only valid to a limited extent due to the diversity of the country. This is especially true when traveling. There are sometimes considerable differences in temperature, especially in northern India. Travel in India should therefore be carefully prepared.
Official name: Republic of India (Bharat)
Area: 3,287,263 km²
Residents: 1.34 billion (2017)
Population growth per year: 1.19% (2017)
Seat of government: New Delhi
Official languages: Hindi, English
Regional languages: Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu and others
Location and size of the country
With an area of 3,287,263 km², India is the seventh largest country in the world and by far the largest and most populous country in South Asia. The country stretches in a west-east direction from the 68th to the 97th degree of longitude to the east for around 3,000 kilometers. From north to south, between the 8th and 37th degrees north, the extension is around 3,200 kilometers. That corresponds to the distance from Sicily to central Norway. India shares borders with six countries: Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh with a total length of 14,103 kilometers.
A land of contrasting diversity
India is being treated as one of the coming global economic powers. In terms of its economic power, measured on the basis of purchasing power parity, India ranks fourth in the world. India is associated with high technology, a fast growing film industry (Bollywood) and extreme wealth. At the same time, there is also widespread poverty, child labor, indigenous people (Adivasi) who have lost their livelihoods and Dalits (casteless / untouchable) who are discriminated against on a daily basis. Modern cities and over half a million villages, some without electricity and water, coexist.
Will India soon become the most populous country in the world?
With a population of around 1.34 billion, India is the second most populous country on earth after China and will overtake it in the near future due to its higher population growth. The current annual population growth of around 1.19% ensures an absolute population growth in the order of magnitude of the population of North Rhine-Westphalia every year.
The country’s population is distributed very unevenly. There is a high population density in fertile regions such as the Gangetic Plain, West Bengal and Kerala, in stark contrast to the foothills of the Himalayas, the northeast and arid regions such as Rajasthan. In the metropolitan areas of megacities Mumbai (Bombay earlier), New Delhi and Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) live currently more than 50 million people. There are a total of 34 cities with more than 1 million residents.
India has relatively good data. Statistical data, especially time series, are accessible via the portal of the Indian government, the United Nations Statistics Division and the World Bank, among others. The Asian Development Bank and the CIA World Factbook also provide basic information on India.
A census has been collected since 1871, then under British rule, and is carried out continuously every 10 years (most recently in 2011). Since 1950 there has also been a representative socio-economic household survey (National Sample Survey) at regular intervals.