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India officially the Republic of India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east, India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometers. It is bordered by Pakistan to the west; People's Republic of China (PRC), Nepal, and Bhutan to the north and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east.

India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia in the Indian Ocean. Home to the Indus Valley Civilization and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history.

Four major world religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated there, while Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region's diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid nineteenth century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread nonviolent resistance.

India is a republic consisting of 28 states and seven union territories with a parliamentary system of democracy. It has the world's twelfth largest economy at market exchange rates and the fourth largest in purchasing power. Economic reforms since 1991 have transformed it into one of the fastest growing economies; however, it still suffers from high levels of poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition.

A pluralistic, multilingual and multiethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. With its mind-bending diversity from snowcapped mountains to sun washed beaches, crusty old bazaars to chichi designer boutiques, tranquil temples to feisty festivals, ramshackle rural villages to techno savvy urban hubs it's hardly surprising that India has been dubbed the planet's most multidimensional country.

The subcontinent is home to more than a billion people, and its eclectic melange of ethnic groups translates into an intoxicating cultural cocktail for the traveller. For those on a spiritual quest, India has oodles of sacrosanct sites and stirring philosophies, while history buffs will discover gems from the past almost everywhere from grand vestiges of the British Raj peering over frenetic city streets, to battle-scarred forts rising from forlorn country fields.

Meanwhile, lovers of the great outdoors can paddle in the shimmering waters of the palm-fringed beaches of Goa, scout for tigers on an adrenaline-pumping wildlife safari in Kanha National Park or simply breathe the fresh air on a rejuvenating trek in Himachal Pradesh. And then there's the food! From squidgy south Indian idlis (rice dumplings) to zesty north Indian curries, travellers are treated to a positively seductive smorgasbord of subcontinental specialities.