Indian subcontinent

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Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent.JPG
Area4.4 million km2 (1.7 million sq mi)
Population1.710 billion (2015) [1]
Population density389/km2
Countries Bangladesh
Bhutan
India
Maldives
Nepal
Pakistan
Sri Lanka

The Indian subcontinent, is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago. [2] Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. [3] Politically, the Indian subcontinent includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. [4] [5] [6]

In geography, regions are areas that are broadly divided by physical characteristics, human impact characteristics, and the interaction of humanity and the environment. Geographic regions and sub-regions are mostly described by their imprecisely defined, and sometimes transitory boundaries, except in human geography, where jurisdiction areas such as national borders are defined in law.

Peninsula A piece of land that is bordered by water on three sides but connected to mainland.

A peninsula is a landform surrounded by water on the majority of its border while being connected to a mainland from which it extends. The surrounding water is usually understood to be continuous, though not necessarily named as a single body of water. Peninsulas are not always named as such; one can also be a headland, cape, island promontory, bill, point, fork, or spit. A point is generally considered a tapering piece of land projecting into a body of water that is less prominent than a cape. A river which courses through a very tight meander is also sometimes said to form a "peninsula" within the loop of water. In English, the plural versions of peninsula are peninsulas and, less commonly, peninsulae.

Asia Earths largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres

Asia is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern and Northern Hemispheres. It shares the continental landmass of Eurasia with the continent of Europe and the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with both Europe and 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. Asia is notable for not only its overall large size and population, but also dense and large settlements, as well as vast barely populated regions. Its 4.5 billion people constitute roughly 60% of the world's population.

Contents

Sometimes, the geographical term 'Indian subcontinent' is used interchangeably with 'South Asia', [7] although that last term is used typically as a political term and is also used to include Afghanistan. [8] Which countries should be included in either of these remains the subject of debate. [9] [10] [11]

South Asia Southern region of Asia

South Asia or Southern Asia, is a term used to represent the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan SAARC countries and, for some authorities, adjoining countries to the west and east. Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate, which rises above sea level as Nepal and northern parts of India situated south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. South Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean and on land by West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Afghanistan A landlocked south-central Asian country

Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in South-Central Asia. Afghanistan is bordered by Pakistan in the south and east; Iran in the west; Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan in the north; and in the far northeast, China. Its territory covers 652,000 square kilometers (252,000 sq mi) and much of it is covered by the Hindu Kush mountain range. Kabul serves as the capital and its largest city.

Name

According to 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". It is first attested in 1845 to refer to the North and South Americas, before they were regarded as separate continents. Its use to refer to the Indian subcontinent is seen from the early twentieth century. It was especially convenient for referring to the region comprising both British India and the princely states under British Paramountcy. [12] [13]

<i>Oxford English Dictionary</i> Premier historical dictionary of the English language

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is the principal historical dictionary of the English language, published by Oxford University Press (OUP). It traces the historical development of the English language, providing a comprehensive resource to scholars and academic researchers, as well as describing usage in its many variations throughout the world. The second edition, comprising 21,728 pages in 20 volumes, was published in 1989.

North America Continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere

North America is a continent entirely within the Northern Hemisphere and almost all within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered by some to be a northern subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, and to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea.

South America A continent in the Western Hemisphere, and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere

South America is a continent in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It may also be considered a subcontinent of the Americas, which is how it is viewed in the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking regions of the Americas. The reference to South America instead of other regions has increased in the last decades due to changing geopolitical dynamics.

The term Indian subcontinent also has a geological significance. Similar to various continents, it was a part of the supercontinent of Gondwana. A series of tectonic splits caused formation of various basins, each drifting in various directions. The geological region called "Greater India" once included Madagascar, Seychelles, Antarctica and Austrolasia along with the Indian subcontinent basin. As a geological term, Indian subcontinent has meant that region formed from the collision of the Indian basin with Eurasia nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene. [2] [14]

Gondwana Neoproterozoic to Carboniferous supercontinent

Gondwana, , was a supercontinent that existed from the Neoproterozoic until the Jurassic.

Madagascar Island nation off the coast of Southeast Africa, in the Indian Ocean

Madagascar, officially the Republic of Madagascar, and previously known as the Malagasy Republic, is an island country in the Indian Ocean, approximately 400 kilometres off the coast of East Africa. The nation comprises the island of Madagascar and numerous smaller peripheral islands. Following the prehistoric breakup of the supercontinent Gondwana, Madagascar split from the Indian subcontinent around 88 million years ago, allowing native plants and animals to evolve in relative isolation. Consequently, Madagascar is a biodiversity hotspot; over 90% of its wildlife is found nowhere else on Earth. The island's diverse ecosystems and unique wildlife are threatened by the encroachment of the rapidly growing human population and other environmental threats.

Seychelles Island country to the East of Africa

Seychelles, officially the Republic of Seychelles, is an archipelago country in the Indian Ocean. The capital of the 115-island country, Victoria, lies 1,500 kilometres (932 mi) east of mainland East Africa. Other nearby island countries and territories include Comoros, Mayotte, Madagascar, Réunion and Mauritius to the south; as well as the Maldives and Chagos Archipelago to the east. With a population of roughly 94,228, it has the smallest population of any sovereign African country.

The geographical region has historically simply been known as "India" (in antiquity referring to the Indus Valley region, not the entire subcontinent). Other related terms are Greater India and South Asia. [15] [16] And the terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are sometimes used interchangeably. [7] There is no globally accepted definition on which countries are a part of South Asia or the Indian subcontinent. [9] [11] [10] The less common term "South Asian subcontinent" has seen occasional use since the 1970s. [17]

Greater India historical extent of the culture of India beyond the Indian subcontinent

The Indian cultural sphere or Indosphere is an area that composes of the many countries and regions in South and Southeast Asia that were historically influenced by Indian culture and the Sanskrit language. The term Greater India is used to encompass the historical and geographic extent of all political entities of the Indian subcontinent, and the regions which are culturally linked to India or received significant Sanskritization and Indian cultural influence. These countries have varying degrees been transformed by the acceptance and induction of cultural and institutional elements of India. Since around 500 BCE, Asia's expanding land and maritime trade had resulted in prolonged socio-economic and cultural stimulation and diffusion of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs into the region's cosmology, in particular in Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. In Central Asia, transmission of ideas were predominantly of a religious nature.

Definition

Orthographic projection of the Indian subcontinent Indian subcontinent (orthographic projection).png
Orthographic projection of the Indian subcontinent

Geology

Geologically, the Indian subcontinent was first a part of so-called "Greater India", [14] a region of Gondwana that drifted away from East Africa about 160 million years ago, around the Middle Jurassic period. [2] The region experienced high volcanic activity and plate subdivisions, creating Madagascar, Seychelles, Antarctica, Austrolasia and the Indian subcontinent basin. The Indian subcontinent drifted northeastwards, colliding with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene. This geological region largely includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. [2] The zone where the Eurasian and Indian subcontinent plates meet remains one of the geologically active areas, prone to major earthquakes. [18] [19]

East Africa Eastern region of the African continent

East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern region of the African continent, variably defined by geography. In the United Nations Statistics Division scheme of geographic regions, 20 territories make up Eastern Africa:

The English term "subcontinent" mainly continues to refer to the Indian subcontinent. [20] [21] Physiographically, it is a peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. [3] [22] It extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast. [4] [23] Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by large mountain barriers. [24]

Using the more expansive definition – counting India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries – the Indian subcontinent covers about 4.4 million km2 (1.7 million sq mi), which is 10% of the Asian continent or 3.3% of the world's land surface area. [25] [26] Overall, it accounts for about 45% of Asia's population (or over 25% of the world's population) and is home to a vast array of peoples. [25] [27] [28]

Socio-cultural sphere

Historical transmission routes of Buddhism from India to Central Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia Buddhist Expansion.svg
Historical transmission routes of Buddhism from India to Central Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia
India 78.40398E 20.74980N.jpg
India at night from space during Diwali 2012.jpg
NASA images of the Indian subcontinent during day and night.

The Indian subcontinent is a natural physical landmass in South Asia, geologically the dry-land portion of the Indian Plate, which has been relatively isolated from the rest of Eurasia. [29] 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, [30] the valleys of Manipur in its east, and by maritime routes. [29] 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 Indian coast through the maritime routes on the Arabian Sea. [29]

Whether called the Indian subcontinent or South Asia, the definition of the geographical extent of this region varies. Geopolitically, it had formed the whole territory of Greater India. [15] [16] In terms of modern geopolitical boundaries, the Indian subcontinent comprises the Republic of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, besides, by convention, the island nation of Sri Lanka and other islands of the Indian Ocean, [5] such as the Maldives. [6] [31] [32] The term "Indian continent" is first introduced in the early 20th century, when most of the territory was part of British India. [33]

The Hindu Kush, centered on eastern Afghanistan, is the boundary connecting the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia to the northwest, and the Persian Plateau to the west. The socio-religious history of Afghanistan are related to the Turkish-influenced Central Asia and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent, now known as Pakistan. [34] [35] Others state Afghanistan being a part of Central Asia is not an accepted practice, and it is "clearly not part of the Indian subcontinent". [9]

The precise definition of an "Indian subcontinent" as opposed to "South Asia" in a geopolitical context is somewhat contested. [9] [11] [36]

Past and future population

RankCountryArea (km2)1950200020502100
1Flag of India.svg  India 3,287,263369,881,0001,006,301,0001,656,554,0001,659,786,000
2Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 881,91340,383,000152,430,000300,848,000364,283,000
3Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh 147,57045,646,000132,151,000201,249,000169,541,000
4Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal 147,1818,990,00024,819,00036,107,00029,677,000
5Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka 65,6107,534,00019,042,00025,167,00014,857,000
6Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan 38,394164,000606,000952,000793,000
7Flag of Maldives.svg  Maldives 29880,000300,000445,000438,000
Total4,568,229480,829,0001,358,111,0002,294,996,0002,297,013,000

Land and water area

This list includes dependent territories within their sovereign states (including uninhabited territories), but does not include claims on Antarctica. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA) which includes land and internal waters.

RankCountryArea (km2)EEZShelfEEZ+TIA
1Flag of India.svg  India 3,287,2632,305,143402,9965,592,406
2Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan 796,095290,00051,3831,117,911
3Flag of Bangladesh.svg  Bangladesh 147,57086,39266,438230,390
4Flag of Nepal.svg    Nepal 147,18100147,181
5Flag of Sri Lanka.svg  Sri Lanka 65,610532,61932,453598,229
6Flag of Bhutan.svg  Bhutan 38,3940038,394
7Flag of Maldives.svg  Maldives 298923,32234,538923,622
Total4,482,4114,137,476587,8089,300,997

See also

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  27. "Asia" > Overview. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2009: "The Indian subcontinent is home to a vast diversity of peoples, most of whom speak languages from the Indo-Aryan subgroup of the Indo-European family."
  28. "Indian Subcontinent", in Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Macmillan Reference USA (Gale Group), 2006: "The total area can be estimated at 4.4 million square kilometres, or exactly 10 percent of the land surface of Asia... In 2000, the total population was about 22 percent of the world's population and 34 percent of the population of Asia."
  29. 1 2 3 Asher, Catherine B.; Talbot, Cynthia (2006), India Before Europe, Cambridge University Press, pp. 5–8, 12–14, 51, 78–80, ISBN   978-0-521-80904-7
  30. John L. Esposito; Emad El-Din Shahin (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics. Oxford University Press. pp. 453–456. ISBN   978-0-19-063193-2.
  31. John McLeod, The history of India , page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN   0-313-31459-4
    Stephen Adolphe Wurm, Peter Mühlhäusler & Darrell T. Tryon, Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, pages 787, International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies, Published by Walter de Gruyter, 1996, ISBN   3-11-013417-9
    Haggett, Peter (2001). Encyclopedia of World Geography (Vol. 1). Marshall Cavendish. p. 2710. ISBN   0-7614-7289-4.
  32. "the Indian Subcontinent occupies the major landmass of South Asia" John R. Lukacs, The People of South Asia: the biological anthropology of India, Pakistan, and Nepal, page 59, Plenum Press, 1984, ISBN   9780306414077. "the seven countries of South Asia constitute geographically a compact region around the Indian Subcontinent".Tatu Vanhanen Prospects of Democracy: A Study of 172 Countries, page 144, Routledge, 1997, ISBN   9780415144063
  33. "Indian subcontinent" is used by Henry D. Baker, British India With Notes On Ceylon Afghanistan And Tibet (1915), p. 401.
  34. Ira M. Lapidus (2014). A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 269, 698–699. ISBN   978-0-521-51430-9.
  35. Louis D Hayes (2014). The Islamic State in the Post-Modern World: The Political Experience of Pakistan. Ashgate. pp. 55–56. ISBN   978-1-4724-1262-1.;
    Robert Wuthnow (2013). The Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion. Routledge. pp. 11–. ISBN   978-1-136-28493-9.
  36. Akhilesh Pillalamarri, South Asia or India: An Old Debate Resurfaces in California, The Diplomat, 24 May 2016; Ahmed, Mukhtar (2014), Ancient Pakistan – An Archaeological History: Volume II: A Prelude to Civilization, Foursome, p. 14, ISBN   978-1-4959-4130-6