|Population||c. 1.8 billion|
|Demonym|| South Asian |
Desi (local; traditional)
|Dependencies||British Indian Ocean Territory|
The Indian subcontinent, or simply the subcontinent, is a physiographical region in Southern Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate, projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geopolitically, it includes the countries of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan,and Sri Lanka. The terms Indian subcontinent and South Asia are often used interchangeably to denote the region, although the geopolitical term of South Asia frequently includes Afghanistan, which may otherwise be classified as Central Asian.
Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the landmass that rifted from the supercontinent of Gondwana during the Cretaceous and merged with the landmass of Eurasia nearly 55 million years ago.Historically, as well as to the present day, it is and has been the most populated region in the world, holding roughly 20–25 percent of the global population at all times in history. Geographically, it is the peninsular region in South Asia, delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakan in the east. The neighboring geographical regions around the subcontinent include the Tibetan Plateau to the north, the Indochinese Peninsula to the east, and the Iranian Plateau to the west and the Indian Ocean to the south.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term subcontinent signifies a "subdivision of a continent which has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity" and also a "large land mass somewhat smaller than a continent".Its use to signify the Indian subcontinent is evidenced from the early twentieth century when most of the territory was part of British Empire, as it was a convenient term to refer to the region comprising both British India and the princely states under British Paramountcy.
Indian subcontinent as a term has been particularly common in the British Empire and its successors,while the term South Asia is the more common usage in Europe and North America. According to historians Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, the Indian subcontinent has come to be known as South Asia "in more recent and neutral parlance." Indologist Ronald B. Inden argues that the usage of the term South Asia is becoming more widespread since it clearly distinguishes the region from East Asia. While South Asia, a more accurate term that reflects the region's contemporary political demarcations, is replacing the Indian subcontinent, a term closely linked to the region's colonial heritage, as a cover term, the latter is still widely used in typological studies.
Since the partition of India, citizens of Pakistan (which became independent of British India in 1947) and Bangladesh (which became independent of Pakistan in 1971) often perceive the use of the Indian subcontinent as offensive and suspicious because of the dominant placement of India in the term. As such it is being increasingly less used in those countries. Meanwhile, many Indian analysts prefer to use the term because of the socio-cultural commonalities of the region.The region has also been called the "Asian subcontinent", the "South Asian subcontinent", as well as "India" or "Greater India" in the classical and pre-modern sense.
The Indian subcontinent was formerly part of Gondwana, a supercontinent formed during the late Neoproterozoic and early Paleozoic.Gondwana began to break up during the Mesozoic, with the Indian subcontinent separating from Antarctica 130-120 million years ago and Madagascar around 90 million years ago. during the Cretaceous. The Indian subcontinent subsequently drifted northeastwards, colliding with the Eurasian Plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene. The zone where the Eurasian and Indian subcontinent plates meet remains geologically active, prone to major earthquakes.
Physiographically, it is a peninsular region in South Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east.It extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast. Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by large mountain barriers. Laccadive Islands, Maldives and the Chagos Archipelago are three series of coral atolls, cays and Faroes on the Indian plate along with the Chagos–Laccadive Ridge, a submarine ridge that was generated by the northern drift of the Indian Plate over the Réunion hotspot during the Cretaceous and early Cenozoic times. The Maldives archipelago rises from a basement of volcanic basalt outpourings from a depth of about 2000 m forming the central part of the ridge between Laccadives and the Great Chagos Bank.
According to anthropologist John R. Lukacs, "the Indian Subcontinent occupies the major landmass of South Asia."According to historian B. N. Mukherjee, "The subcontinent is an indivisible geographical entity." According to geographer Dudley Stamp, "there is perhaps no mainland part of the world better marked off by nature as a region or a 'realm' by itself than the Indian subcontinent."
This natural physical landmass in South Asia is the dry-land portion of the Indian Plate, which has been relatively isolated from the rest of Eurasia.The Himalayas (from Brahmaputra River in the east to Indus River in the west), Karakoram (from Indus River in the east to Yarkand River in the west) and the Hindu Kush mountains (from Yarkand River westwards) form its northern boundary. In the west it is bounded by parts of the mountain ranges of Hindu Kush, Spīn Ghar (Safed Koh), Sulaiman Mountains, Kirthar Mountains, Brahui range, and Pab range among others, with the Western Fold Belt along the border (between the Sulaiman Range and the Chaman Fault) is the western boundary of the Indian Plate, where, along the Eastern Hindu Kush, lies the Afghanistan–Pakistan border. In the east, it is bounded by Patkai, Naga, Lushai and Chin hills. The Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea forms the boundary of the Indian subcontinent in the south, south-east and south-west.
Given the difficulty of passage through the Himalayas, the sociocultural, religious and political interaction of the Indian subcontinent has largely been through the valleys of Afghanistan in its northwest,the valleys of Manipur in its east, and by maritime routes. More difficult but historically important interaction has also occurred through passages pioneered by the Tibetans. These routes and interactions have led to the spread of Buddhism out of the Indian subcontinent into other parts of Asia. And the Islamic expansion arrived into the Indian subcontinent in two ways, through Afghanistan on land and to the Indian coast through the maritime routes on the Arabian Sea.
In terms of modern geopolitical boundaries, the Indian subcontinent constitutes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan, besides, by convention, the island country of Sri Lanka and other nearby island nations of the Indian Ocean, such as Maldives and [ citation needed ][ original research? ] unlike "South Asia" sometimes the expression "Indian subcontinent" may exclude the islands of Maldives and Sri Lanka. According to Chris Brewster and Wolfgang Mayrhofer, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan constitute the Indian subcontinent. Brewster and Mayrhofer also maintain that with Afghanistan and Maldives included the region is referred to as South Asia. The periphery of the subcontinent, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and the island chains of the Maldives, features large Muslim populations, while the heartland, including most of India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, are overwhelmingly Hindu or Buddhist. Since most of these countries are located on the Indian Plate, a continuous landmass, the borders between countries are often either a river or a no man's land.
The precise definition of an "Indian subcontinent" in a geopolitical context is somewhat contested as there is no globally accepted definition on which countries are a part of South Asia or the Indian subcontinent.Whether called the Indian subcontinent or South Asia, the definition of the geographical extent of this region varies. Afghanistan, despite often considered as a part of South Asia, is usually not included in the Indian subcontinent. Maldives, an island country consisting of a small archipelago southwest of the peninsula, while largely considered a part of the Indian subcontinent, sometimes is mentioned by sources, including the International Monetary Fund, as a group of islands away from the Indian subcontinent in a south-western direction.
Asia is a landmass, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia. It shares the continental landmass with Afro-Eurasia with Africa. Asia covers an area of 44,579,000 square kilometres (17,212,000 sq mi), about 30% of Earth's total land area and 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area. The continent, which has long been home to the majority of the human population, was the site of many of the first civilizations. Its 4.7 billion people constitutes roughly 60% of the world's population.
India is situated north of the equator between 8°4' north to 37°6' north latitude and 68°7' east to 97°25' east longitude. It is the seventh-largest country in the world, with a total area of 3,287,263 square kilometres (1,269,219 sq mi). India measures 3,214 km (1,997 mi) from north to south and 2,933 km (1,822 mi) from east to west. It has a land frontier of 15,200 km (9,445 mi) and a coastline of 7,516.6 km (4,671 mi).
The history of Pakistan as a state began in 1947, after the end of British rule, and the partition of British India. Spanning the Indus Basin and covering the western expanse of the Indian subcontinent and the eastern borders of the Iranian plateau, the region of present-day Pakistan served both as the fertile ground of a major civilization and as the gateway of South Asia to Central Asia and the Near East.
The Himalayas, or Himalaya, are a mountain range in Asia, separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has some of the planet's highest peaks, including the very highest, Mount Everest. Over 100 peaks exceeding 7,200 m (23,600 ft) in elevation lie in the Himalayas. By contrast, the highest peak outside Asia is 6,961 m (22,838 ft) tall.
The Hindu Kush is an 800-kilometre-long (500 mi) mountain range in Central and South Asia to the west of the Himalayas. It stretches from central and western Afghanistan into northwestern Pakistan and far southeastern Tajikistan. The range forms the western section of the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region (HKH); to the north, near its northeastern end, the Hindu Kush buttresses the Pamir Mountains near the point where the borders of China, Pakistan and Afghanistan meet, after which it runs southwest through Pakistan and into Afghanistan near their border. The eastern end of the Hindu Kush in the north merges with the Karakoram Range. Towards its southern end, it connects with the Spin Ghar Range near the Kabul River. It divides the valley of the Amu Darya to the north from the Indus River valley to the south. The range has numerous high snow-capped peaks, with the highest point being Tirich Mir or Terichmir at 7,708 metres (25,289 ft) in the Chitral District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan.
Chapati, also known as roti, rotli, safati, shabaati, phulka, chapo, and roshi, is an unleavened flatbread originating from the Indian subcontinent and staple in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, East Africa, Arabian Peninsula and the Caribbean. Chapatis are made of whole-wheat flour known as atta, mixed into dough with water, oil (optional), salt (optional) in a mixing utensil called a parat, and are cooked on a tava.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of states in South Asia. Its member states are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. SAARC comprises 3% of the world's land area, 21% of the world's population and 5.21% of the global economy, as of 2021.
Geography of Asia reviews geographical concepts of classifying Asia, the central and eastern part of Eurasia, comprising approximately fifty countries.
South Asian ethnic groups are an ethnolinguistic grouping of the diverse populations of South Asia, including the nations of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka. While Afghanistan is variously considered to be part of both Central Asia and South Asia, Afghans are generally not included among South Asians, hence confining the ethnic groups only to those of the Indian subcontinent.
The South Asian Stone Age covers the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods in South Asia. Evidence for the most ancient Homo sapiens in South Asia has been found in the cave sites of Cudappah of India, Batadombalena and Belilena in Sri Lanka. In Mehrgarh, in what is today western Pakistan, the Neolithic began c. 7000 BCE and lasted until 3300 BCE and the first beginnings of the Bronze Age. In South India, the Mesolithic lasted until 3000 BCE, and the Neolithic until 1400 BCE, followed by a Megalithic transitional period mostly skipping the Bronze Age. The Iron Age began roughly simultaneously in North and South India, around c. 1200 to 1000 BCE.
The following is an alphabetical list of subregions in the United Nations geoscheme for Asia, used by the United Nations and maintained by the UNSD department for statistical purposes.
A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest in area to smallest, these seven regions are: Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. Variations with fewer continents may merge some of these, for example America, Eurasia, or Afro-Eurasia are sometimes treated as single continents, which can bring the total number as low as four. Zealandia, a largely submerged mass of continental crust, has also been described as a continent.
The ancestral population of modern Asian people has its origins in the two primary prehistoric settlement centres – greater Southwest Asia and from the Mongolian plateau towards Northern China.
South Asia is home to several hundred languages, spanning the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Maldives and Sri Lanka. It is home to the third most spoken language in the world, Hindi–Urdu; and the sixth most spoken language, Bengali. The languages in the region mostly comprise Indo-Iranic and Dravidian languages, and further members of other language families like Austroasiatic, Turkic, and Tibeto-Burman languages.
South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geographical and ethno-cultural terms. The region consists of the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate and defined largely by the Indian Ocean on the south, and the Himalayas, Karakoram, and Pamir mountains on the north. The Amu Darya, which rises north of the Hindu Kush, forms part of the northwestern border. On land (clockwise), South Asia is bounded by Western Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.
Shalwar kameez is a traditional combination dress worn by women, and in some regions by men, in South Asia, and Central Asia.
South Asians in the United Kingdom have been present in the country since the 17th century, with significant migration occurring in the mid-20th century. They originate primarily from eight sovereign states in South Asia which are, in alphabetical order, the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. There is also a history of migration of diasporic South Asians from Africa and Southeast Asia moving to, and settling in, the United Kingdom.
Islam is the second-largest religion in South Asia, with more than half a billion Muslims living there, forming about one-third of the region's population. Islam existed in South Asian communities along the Arab coastal trade routes in Sindh, Bengal, Gujarat, Malabar, and Ceylon as soon as the religion originated and had gained early acceptance in the Arabian Peninsula. South Asia has the largest population of Muslims in the world, with about one-third of all Muslims being from South Asia. Islam is the dominant religion in half of the South Asian countries. In India, Islam is the second-largest religion while in Sri Lanka and Nepal it is the third-largest religion.
Hinduism is the largest religion in South Asia with about 1.16 billion Hindus, forming just under two-thirds of South Asia's population. South Asia has the largest population of Hindus in the world, with about 99% of all Hindus being from South Asia. Hinduism is the dominant religion in India and Nepal and is the second-largest religion in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Bhutan.
This greater India is well defined in terms of topography; it is the Indian sub-continent, hemmed in by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Khush in the west and the Arakanese in the east.
The paleotectonic evolution of Asia terminated some 50 million years ago as a result of the collision of the Indian subcontinent with Eurasia. Asia's subsequent neotectonic development has largely disrupted the continents pre-existing fabric. The neotectonic units of Asia are Stable Asia, the Arabian and Indian cratons, the Alpide plate boundary zone (along which the Arabian and Indian platforms have collided with the Eurasian continental plate), and the island arcs and marginal basins.
India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and other small islands of the Indian Ocean