Size: Total land area 2,973,190 square kilometers. Total area, including territorial seas, claimed is 3,287,590 square kilometers.
Topography: Three main geological regions: Indo-Gangetic Plain and Himalayas, collectively known as North India; and Peninsula or South India. Ten physiological regions: Indo-Gangetic Plain, northern mountains of the Himalayas, Central Highlands, Deccan or Peninsular Plateau, East Coast (Coromandel Coast in south), West Coast (Konkan, Kankara, and Malabar coasts), Great Indian Desert (known as Thar Desert in Pakistan) and Rann of Kutch, valley of the Brahmaputra River in Assam, northeastern hill ranges surrounding Assam Valley, and islands of Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
Climate: Climate varies significantly from Himalayas in north to tropical south. Four seasons: relatively dry, cool winter December to February; dry, hot summer March to May; southwest monsoon June to September when predominating southwest maritime winds bring rains to most of country; and northeast, or retreating, monsoon October and November.
Population: 936,545,814 estimated in July 1995, with 1.8 percent annual growth rate. About 74 percent in rural areas in 1991; high population density--284 persons per square kilometer national average, major states more than 700 persons per square kilometer; 100 persons or fewer per square kilometer in some border states and insular territories. Bombay (officially renamed Mumbai in 1995) largest city, with 12.6 million in 1991; twenty-three other cities with populations of more than 1 million.
Health: In 1995 life expectancy for men 58.5 years, for women 59.6 years; infant mortality rate 76.3 per 1,000 live births. Malaria, filariasis, leprosy, cholera, pneumonic plague, tuberculosis, trachoma, goiter, and diarrheal diseases all occur. In 1991 primary health centers, subcenters, and community health centers at local levels included more than 10,000 hospitals, 24,000 dispensaries, and 811,000 beds.
Education: Twelve-year education system; mandatory primary and middle levels, optional secondary education; high drop-out rate even at compulsory levels. System supervised by Department of Education, part of Ministry of Human Resource Development. National adult literacy rate 52.2 percent in 1991 (male 63.9 percent, female 39.4 percent). More than 180 universities, some 500 teacher training colleges, and several thousand other colleges.
Religion: Most (82 percent) observe Hinduism; 12.1 percent Muslim, 2.3 percent Christian, 1.9 percent Sikh, 0.8 percent Buddhist, 0.4 percent Jains, 0.4 percent other, 0.1 percent not identified.
Language: Official language Hindi; English also has official status. For use in certain official capacities, constitution recognizes eighteen Scheduled Languages (see Glossary): Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. Four major language families include officially 112 "mother tongues," each with 10,000 or more speakers; thirty-three languages spoken by 1 million or more persons. Total number of languages and dialects varies depending on source and how counted; between 179 and 188 languages and between forty-nine and 544 dialects have been tabulated; census respondents in 1961 provided names for 1,652 different "mother tongues."
Ethnic Groups: Indo-Aryan 72 percent, Dravidian 25 percent, Mongoloid and other 3 percent. Caste system, although no longer sanctioned by government, prevails. Some 16 percent listed as members of Scheduled Castes (see Glossary), 8 percent as members of Scheduled Tribes (see Glossary).
Data as of September 1995