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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Geographical map of the Indian subcontinent

The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent and other terms, is a region of the Asian (and, in turn, the Eurasian) continent on the Indian tectonic plate south of the Himalayas, forming a land mass which extends southward into the Indian Ocean.



The terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are used interchangeably.[1][2][3][4] Due to political sensitivities, some prefer to use the terms "South Asian Subcontinent",[5][6][7] the "Indo-Pak Subcontinent",[8] "the Subcontinent", or simply "South Asia"[9] over the term "Indian subcontinent". According to historians Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, Indian Subcontinent has come to be known as South Asia "in more recent and neutral parlance."[9] Indologist Ronald B. Inden argues that the usage of the term "South Asia" is getting more widespread since it clearly distinguishes the region from East Asia;[10] Some academics hold that the term "South Asia" is in more common use in Europe and North America, rather than the terms "Subcontinent" or the "Indian Subcontinent".[11][12]

Physical geography

Geographically, the Indian subcontinent is a peninsular region in south-central Asia, rather resembling a diamond which is delineated by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east,[13] and which extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast.[1][14] With all seven countries included, the area covers about 4.4 million km² (1.7 million mi²), which is 10% of the Asian continent or 2.4% of the world's land surface area.[15][16][17] Overall, it accounts for about 34% of Asia's population (or over 16.5% of the world's population) and is home to a vast array of peoples.[15][16][17]

Most of this region rests on a distinct tectonic plate, the Indian Plate (the northerly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate), and is isolated from the rest of Asia by mountain barriers.[18][19] It was once a small continent before colliding with the Eurasian Plate about 50-55 million years ago and giving birth to the Himalayan range and the Tibetan plateau. In addition, it is also home to a variety of geographical features, such as glaciers, rainforests, valleys, deserts, and grasslands.

Human geography

The definition of the geographical extent of Indian subcontinent varies. It generally comprises the countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh;[14] it often also includes Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan and offshore Sri Lanka[20] and may include the Maldives.[1][21] Historically forming the whole of greater India or the territories of the British Raj, the region now comprises the countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh;[22][14] it often also includes Nepal, Bhutan, and offshore Sri Lanka.[23] It may also include the island country of Maldives[24]. The region may also include the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which was part of the British Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, but is now administered as a part of the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang.[25] A booklet published by the United States Department of State in 1959 includes Afghanistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Nepal, and Pakistan as part of the "Subcontinent of South Asia".[26] When the term Indian Subcontinent is used to mean South Asia, the islands countries of Sri Lanka and the Maldives are sometimes not included,[1] while Tibet and Nepal are included[27] and excluded[28] intermittently, depending on the context.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d John McLeod, The history of India, pages 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0313314594
  2. ^ Milton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 082260034X
  3. ^ Jim Norwine & Alfonso González, The Third World: states of mind and being,‎ pages 209, Taylor & Francis, 1988, ISBN 0049101218
  4. ^ Boniface, Brian G.; Christopher P. Cooper (2005). Worldwide destinations - By Brian G. Boniface, Christopher P. Cooper Worldwide destinations: the geography of travel and tourism. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 9780750659970. Worldwide destinations - By Brian G. Boniface, Christopher P. Cooper. 
  5. ^ Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, Asian Power and Politics, pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 0674049799
  6. ^ South Asian Subcontinent.
  7. ^ Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, Asian Power and Politics, pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 0674049799
  8. ^ Mark Juergensmeyer, The Oxford handbook of global religions, pages 465, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0195137981
  9. ^ a b Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia, pages 3, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0415307872
  10. ^ Imagining India - By Ronald B. Inden
  11. ^ Judith Schott & Alix Henley, Culture, Religion, and Childbearing in a Multiracial Society, pages 274, Elsevier Health Sciences, 1996, ISBN 0750620501
  12. ^ Raj S. Bhopal, Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies, pages 33, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0198568177
  13. ^ Chapman, Graham P. & Baker, Kathleen M., eds. The changing geography of Asia. (ISBN 0-203-03862-2) New York: Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2002; p. 10: "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."
  14. ^ a b c "Indian subcontinent". New Oxford Dictionary of English (ISBN 0-19-860441-6) New York: Oxford University Press, 2001; p. 929: "the part of Asia south of the Himalayas which forms a peninsula extending into the Indian Ocean, between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Historically forming the whole territory of greater India, the region is now divided between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh."
  15. ^ a b Desai, Praful B. 2002. Cancer control efforts in the Indian subcontinent. Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology. 32 (Supplement 1): S13-S16. "The Indian subcontinent in South Asia occupies 2.4% of the world land mass and is home to 16.5% of the world population...."
  16. ^ a b "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."
  17. ^ a b "Indian Subcontinent". Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Macmillan Reference USA (Gale Group), 2006: "The area is divided between five major nation-states, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, and includes as well the two small nations of Bhutan and the Maldives Republic... The total area can be estimated at 4.4 million square kilometers, 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."
  18. ^ "Asia" > Geology and Geography. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Columbia University Press, 2003: "Asia can be divided into six regions, each possessing distinctive physical, cultural, economic, and political characteristics.... South Asia (Afghanistan and the nations of the Indian subcontinent) is isolated from the rest of Asia by great mountain barriers."
  19. ^ "Asia" > Geologic history - Tectonic framework. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2009: "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 continent’s preexisting fabric. The first-order 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."
  20. ^ "Indian subcontinent" > Geology and Geography. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Columbia University Press, 2003: "region, S central Asia, comprising the countries of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh and the Himalayan states of Nepal, and Bhutan. Sri Lanka, an island off the southeastern tip of the Indian peninsula, is often considered a part of the subcontinent."
  21. ^ 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 3110134179
  22. ^ After partition: India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, BBC, 2007-08-08
  23. ^ "Indian subcontinent": Geology and Geography. The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Columbia University Press, 2003: "region, S central Asia, comprising the countries of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh and the Himalayan states of Nepal, and Bhutan. Sri Lanka, an island off the southeastern tip of the Indian peninsula, is often considered a part of the subcontinent."
  24. ^ Haggett, Peter (2001). Encyclopedia of World Geography (Vol. 1). Marshall Cavendish. pp. 2710. ISBN 0761472894. 
  25. ^ Dale Hoiberg and Indu Ramchandani, Students' Britannica India (vol. 1‎), page 45, Popular Prakashan, 2000, ISBN 9780852297605
  26. ^ Superintendent of Documents, United States Government Printing Office, The Subcontinent of South Asia: Afghanistan, Ceylon, India, Nepal and Pakistan, United States Department of State, Public Services Division, 1959
  27. ^ James C. Harle, The art and architecture of the Indian subcontinent, pages 214, Yale University Press, 1994, ISBN 0300062176
  28. ^ Joseph Hackin & Paul Louis Couchoud, The Mythologies of the East: Indian Subcontinent, Middle East, Nepal and Tibet, Indo-China and Java, pages 1, Aryan Books International, 1996, ISBN 817305018X

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010
(Redirected to South Asia article)

From Wikitravel

Asia : South Asia

South Asia comprises those countries lying between the Himalaya range of mountains and the Indian Ocean (north to south) and between the Ganga and Indus river valleys (east to west). The Indian Ocean shoreline is divided between the Arabian Sea (in the west) and the Bay of Bengal (in the east). The extensive, triangular-shaped landmass of South Asia is sometimes referred to as "the Indian Subcontinent", or simply "the Subcontinent"

  • Bangladesh - home of beautiful mangroves and the worlds longest beach
  • Bhutan - the last Shangri-la
  • India - Rich and exotic culture , several languages and a billion people.
  • Maldives - paradise found
  • Nepal - home to Mount Everest, adventure tourism, and smiling people
  • Pakistan - rich in culture and history, varying climates and terrains from hot deserts to mountains
  • Sri Lanka - pearl of the Orient

Afghanistan is sometimes considered part of the region. Its recent moves towards joining the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) may some day firmly place it in South Asia.

Myanmar (formerly Burma) may be considered a part of South Asia for long-standing historical and political ties to India.

Other destinations

See Islands of the Indian Ocean.


Some commonalities exist to this area, mainly climate and culture.

Climate: Apart from the Himalaya, the climate is tropical, with monsoon in summer and dry winter. However, you have the extremes of this climate, i.e. in Western Pakistan monsoon is quite non-existent and in Southern India, it lasts for six months. Sri Lanka even has two monsoons, one in May, one in October/November.

Culture: The influence of historical Indian culture can be seen everywhere. Two of the main "world religions" have their origins within South Asia: Hinduism and Buddhism. A third, Islam, was introduced by Muslim invaders starting around the 7th century and rose to prominence during the Mughal Empire.

An additional layer of South Asian cultural unification derives from the influence of British culture, and especially the frequent and growing use of the English language, as a result of India having formed the "Jewel in the Crown" of the British Empire before Independence in 1947.

Population density: South Asia is one of the world's most densely populated regions - approximately 1.6 billion people (or roughly a quarter of humanity) make their home there. The average population density of 305 people per square km is 7 times the world average.


The region does not have a lingua franca. However, as much of South Asia was under British rule, English is widely spoken by educated people. Hindi and Urdu are spoken over much of India and Pakistan. As the two languages are mutually intelligible, if you have to learn one before visiting, pick one of these. Hindi will also help you in Nepal, as the Nepali language is quite similar. Bengali is another major languge spoken in Bangladesh, West Bengal and understood in some other eastern states of India.

Other than these, South Asia has a fascinating diversity of languages. India, in particular, is home to hundreds of them, and Pakistan too has quite a few. In the major cities and tourist destinations, you will be able to get by with English with varying degrees of difficulty.

By plane

International airports include:

Many flights from the west coast of North America arrive via Singapore and Bangkok, while flights originating on the east coast usually have a stopover somewhere in Europe depending on the airline.

Flights from Europe arrive via Dubai, Doha and several other major airline hubs.

The number of direct flights between India and U.S/U.K is increasing.


For most countries in the region, haggling is essential while shopping--see How to haggle.

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Simple English

The Indian subcontinent is a term mainly used to denote the geographic region surrounded by the Indian Ocean: mainly the Republic of India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir (disputed region), Khalistan, Tibet (China), Nepal, Sikkim, Bangladesh (East Bengal), Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Bhutan and Myanmar (Burma) and few other countries. see: South Asia

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