The Republic of India is located at the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent of Asia. It lies between the Arabian Sea to the west and the Bay of Bengal to the east. India achieved independence from Great Britain on August 15, 1947. Republic Day, a national holiday, commemorates the completion of the Indian Constitution, which became effective on January 26, 1950.

Geography

Asia is the eighth largest country in the world with a total area of 3,287,263 sq km, of which 2,973,193 sq km is land and 314,070 sq km is water. It is slightly more than one-third the size of the US. India has 7,000 km of coastline, and it borders six countries, which from west to east are Pakistan (3,190 km), China (2,659 km), Nepal (1,770 km), Bangladesh (4,142 km), Bhutan (659 km), and Burma (1,468 km). According to 2011 estimates, land use is agriculture (60.5%), forest (23.1%), and other (23.1%).

People and Society

A July 2017 estimate of India’s population was 1,281,935,911 residents, making India the second most populous country in the world behind China. In 2000, India’s ethnic makeup was Indo-Aryan (72%), Dravidian (25%), and Mongoloid and other (3%). According to 2011 estimates, the residents’ religions are Hindu (79.8%), Muslim (14.2%), Christian (2.3%), Sikh (1.7%), and other or unspecified (2%). The median age of the population in 2017 was 27.9 years with the following age structure:

  • 0 to 14 years, 27.34%
  • 15 to 24 years, 17.90%
  • 25 to 54 years, 41.07%
  • 55 to 64 years, 7.45%
  • 65 years and over, 6.24%

In 2016, there were 1.08 males per female.

Government

India is a federal parliamentary republic. Its capital is New Delhi. India’s administrative divisions include 29 states and union territories. The basis of the legal system is common law per the English model. There is judicial review of legislative acts, and personal law codes apply to Muslims, Christians, and Hindus.

Citizenship is by descent with at least one parent being an Indian citizen, and the residency requirement for naturalization is five years. Dual citizenship is not recognized. Universal suffrage is 18 years of age.

Executive Branch of Government

The chief of state is President Ram Nath Kovind, and the Vice President is M Venkaiah Naidu. The head of government is Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The president appoints the cabinet, the Union Council of Ministers, based on recommendations by the prime minister. An electoral college, consisting of elected members of both houses of Parliament and state legislatures, elect the president and vice president to 5-year terms. After legislative elections, parliamentary members of the majority party elect the prime minister.

Legislative Branch of Government

The bicameral Parliament (Sansad) consists of the Council of States (Rajya Sabha) and the House of the People (Lok Sabha). The Council of States has 245 seats, 233 elected members, and 12 presidential appointments. Members serve 5-year terms. The House of the People has 545 seats, 543 elected members, and 2 presidential appointments. Members also serve 5-year terms.

Judicial Branch of Government

The highest court is the Supreme Court, which has a chief justice and 25 associate justices. The president appoints justices to serve life terms until age 65. Subordinate courts include High Courts, District Courts, and Labour Court.

Economy

In 2017, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at purchasing power parity was $9.447 trillion or $7,200 per capita. The unemployment rate was 8.8%. Exports were $299.3 billion, and exported commodities included apparel, cereals, chemicals, iron and steel, machinery, petroleum products, pharmaceutical products, precious stones, and vehicles. In 2016, major export partners include US (16%), UAE (11.7%), and Hong Kong (5.1%).

Imports were $426.8 billion, and import commodities were chemicals, crude oil, fertilizer, iron and steel, machinery, plastics, and precious stones. In 2016, major import partners included China (17%), US (5.8%), UAE (5.4%), Saudi Arabia (5.2%), and Switzerland (4.2%). Despite some long-term challenges, the outlook for long-term growth is positive because of the following:

  • Young population and corresponding low dependency ratio
  • Healthy savings and investment rates
  • Increasing integration into the global economy
Communications

India has 24 million fixed telephone lines and 1.1 billion cellular phones. It also has 374 million internet users.

Tourist Attractions

The following attractions received large numbers of excellent ratings submitted to Trip Advisor (www.tripadvisor.com). These are only five of the many popular tourist attractions in India.

Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum in Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. In 1632, the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan, commissioned its construction to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The dome over the tomb is the dominating feature, and four minarets frame the tomb. The website is http://www.tajmahal.gov.in/.

Harmandir Sahib

Harmandir Sahib, also known as Golden Temple, is located in Amritsar, Punjab, India. It is the holiest pilgrimage site of Sikhism. Completed in 1577, it is an open house of worship for people of all faiths.

Amber Fort

Amber Fort is the principal tourist attraction in Amer, Rajasthan, India. Constructed in 1592, it features the artistic Hindu Style with large ramparts, gates, and cobbled paths. It overlooks Maota Lake.

Bandra-Worli Sea Link

The Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a causeway that links Bandra, a western suburb of Mumbai, with Worli in south Mumbai. The link is 5.6 km long and carries four lanes of traffic in each direction. Northern and southern viaducts are on either side of the central cable-stayed spans.

Ellora Caves

The Ellora Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are located in Maharashtra, India. The site is a large, rock-cut, monastery-temple cave complex with Buddhist, Hindu, and Jain monuments and artwork that date from 600 to 1000 CE.