• The Republic of India, whose capital is Delhi, is bordered by Afghanistan, China, Nepal and Bhutan to the north, Bangladesh and Myanmar (Burma) to the east and Pakistan to the west.

It’s the seventh largest country in the world, covering more than three million square kilometres, and is second only to China in terms of population, at more than 1.25 billion. Hindus comprise eighty percent of the population, Muslims 14 percent, and there are millions of Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains. Twenty-three official languages are spoken, along with more than a thousand minor languages and dialects. Hindi is the language of more than forty percent of the population; English is also widely spoken.

The caste system is pervasive and, although integral to Hindu belief, it also encompasses non-Hindus. It holds special sway in rural areas and may dictate where a person lives and what their occupation is.

Eighty-one percent of males over 15 are literate, compared to 61 percent of females: 71 percent of the total adult population.

Indian Railways is India’s largest employer, with around 1.4 million workers.

Producing 1900 movies each year and turning over US$4 billion, India’s film industry is the largest in the world, in terms of ticket numbers if not box office receipts.

Essentials

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