India is the world's largest democracy and the second most populous country. It emerged as a major power after a being under the yoke of foreign rule, including 300 hundred years of British colonisation, and several decades of self imposed closed economy.
A nuclear weapons state, it carried out tests in the late 1990s in defiance of world opinion. However, India is still tackling huge social, economic and environmental problems.


The Indus Valley civilization, one of the oldest in the world, dates back at least 5,000 years. In 1500 BC, Aryan tribes from the northwest invaded India and their fusion with then existing Dravidian inhabitants created the classical Indian culture. Arab incursions started in the 8th century followed by Turkish in the 12th. European traders, began arriving in the late 15th century. By the 19th century, Britain had assumed political control of virtually all Indian lands. Indian armed forces in the British army played a vital role in both World Wars. Nonviolent resistance to British colonialism led by Mohandas Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru brought independence in 1947. The subcontinent was divided into the secular state of India and the smaller Muslim state of Pakistan. A third war between the two countries in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh. Despite impressive gains in economic investment and output, India faces pressing problems such as the ongoing dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, massive overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, and ethnic and religious strife.

English enjoys associate status but is the most important language for national, political, and commercial communication; Hindi is the national language and primary tongue of 30% of the people and there are 14 other official languages: Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Urdu, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, Oriya, Punjabi, Assamese, Kashmiri, Sindhi, and Sanskrit. Hindustani is a popular variant of Hindi/Urdu spoken widely throughout northern India but is not an official language.
India's diverse economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of services. Services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for half of India's output with less than one quarter of its labor force. About two-thirds of the workforce is in agriculture, leading the government to articulate an economic reform program that includes developing basic infrastructure to improve the lives of the rural poor and boost economic performance. Government controls on foreign trade and investment have been reduced in some areas, but high tariffs (averaging 20% on non-agricultural items in 2004) and limits on foreign direct investment are still in place. The government in 2005 liberalized investment in the civil aviation, telecom, and construction sectors. Privatization of government-owned industries essentially came to a halt in 2005, and continues to generate political debate; continued social, political, and economic rigidities hold back needed initiatives. The economy has posted an excellent average growth rate of more than 6.8% in the decade since 1994, reducing poverty by about 10%. India is capitalizing on its large numbers of well-educated people skilled in the English language to become a major exporter of software services and software workers.

President Pranab Mukherjee
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Taj Mahal

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS)
2005, of becoming the first medical center in the world to use stem cell transplants to treat multiple previously fatal conditions including terminal cardiac, pancreatic and other ailments. The amount of sevices provided by AIIMS is truly staggering, with 1.5 million patients treated in its outpatient departments every year, and another 80,000 being treated as inpatients. Over 100,000 surgeries major and minor are performed every year

Silicon Valley of India
The Capital of Karnataka and a vibrant cosmopolitan city, Bangalore is a major industrial and commercial centre noted for its scientific and research institutes. The capital also of the fast growing Indian software industry, Bangalore is known as the Silicon Valley of India.

Miss World
1994 - Aishwariya Rai, India
1997 - Diana Hayden, India
1999 - Yukta Mookhey , India
2000 - Priyanka Chopra , India

Miss Universe
1994—Sushmita Sen
2000—Lara Dutta

Olympics Medal Tally 8 gold, 4 silver, 5 bronze = 17

Nobel Laureates

Medicine - 1968
Hargovind Khorana

Literature - 1913
Rabindranath Tagore
Economics - 1998
Amartya Sen

Physics - 1930
Sir Chandrashekhar Venkata Raman
Physics – 1983
Peace - 1976 Mother Teresa

Famous People

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi

Rakesh Sharma India’s first and the world’s 138th astronaut – 1984

Chandra Bose-
Freedom fighter

First Indian woman astronaut - Kalpana Chawla (who flew into space on board the Challenger twice), was killed along with six others in the Columbia shuttle disaster on February 1, 2003.

Quick Facts

Official Name

Republic of India


New Delhi


Southern Asia , bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal , between Burma and Pakistan


1,080,264,388 (July 2005 est.)


Indo-Aryan 72%, Dravidian 25%, Mongoloid and other 3%


Hindu 80.5%, Muslim 13.4%, Christian 2.3%, Sikh 1.9%, other 1.8%


August 15 1947 (from UK )

National Day

Republic Day, January 26 (1950)


Federal Republic

Legal System

Based on English common law; limited judicial review of legislative acts; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations; separate personal law codes apply to Muslims, Christians, and Hindus

Head of State

President Pranab Mukherjee

Head of Government

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (since 2004)


Indian rupee (INR)

Agricultural Products

ice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry; fish


textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, software

Export Partners

US 17%, UAE 8.8%, China 5.5%, Hong Kong 4.7%, UK 4.5%, Singapore 4.5%

Import Partners

China 6.1%, US 6%, Switzerland 5.2%, Belgium 4.4%