Facts About India

Administrative Divisions
Extra Reasons to Be Proud of India


People have been living in India for thousands of years. As far as we know, a great civilization developed about 4,500 years ago in the valley of the Indus River. The Indus valley civilization lasted for about a thousand years. The ruins of Harrapa and Mohenjodaro are remnants of some of the towns of that civilization. Around 1,500 B.C., Aryans began coming to the Indian peninsula. During the years that followed, most of the Aryans settled in villages. They became farmers or craft workers. Meanwhile, the Hindu religion was beginning to take shape. This religion combined the beliefs of the Aryans with the beliefs of the earlier people who lived in India. In about 563 B.C., Siddhartha Gautama was born to a family of nobles from the foothills of the Himalayas. He came to be known as Gautama Buddha and his teachings gave birth to a new religion called Buddhism.

In the fourth century BC, most of India was united under a single ruler, Chandragupta Maurya. The Maurya family ruled India for approximately 150 years. The greatest of the Maurya rulers was Emperor Ashoka. Pillars with messages preaching love and kindness were setup throughout the empire. India's national emblem, the four lion heads, is taken from the top part of one of those pillars in Sarnath. After Ashoka's death, the Maurya Empire fell apart. Then, around 320 AD, the Guptas started building an empire in northern India. During this period, India made great achievements in art, literature and science. For this reason, the Gupta period is often called the Golden Age of India. The Gupta Empire came to an end around 500 AD.

In the following centuries, India suffered a series of incursions by people from other lands including the Afghans, the Mughals and the Europeans. Portugal was the first European nation to find a water route to India. After 1498, many European traders sailed to India by the route that Vasco da Gama had discovered. In the eighteenth century, the British power began to rise. By 1857, the East India Company governed a large portion of India, either directly or through titular kings. In 1877, Queen Victoria of Britain assumed the title of "Empress of India".

The uprising of 1857 is considered to be the first organized effort to revolt against the British. Even though the British suppressed the revolt, it marked the start of a long struggle for freedom. Many leaders like Dadabhai Navroji, Lala Lajpatrai, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Subhash Chandra Bose, etc. contributed towards the freedom struggle. After 1920, Mahatma Gandhi began leading the Indian people towards independence, which culminated in 1947. On January 26, 1950, India became a democratic republic by adopting the constitution written by Dr. Ambedkar.

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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; 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.

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Administrative Divisions

28 states and 7 union territories*; Andaman and Nicobar Islands*, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chandigarh*, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli*, Daman and Diu*, Delhi*, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep*, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Pondicherry*, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal

Executive Branch

Chief of state: President Abdul KALAM (since 26 July 2002); Vice President Bhairon Singh SHEKHAWAT (since 12 August 2002)

Elections: president elected by an electoral college consisting of elected members of both houses of Parliament and the legislatures of the states for a five-year term; election last held NA July 2002 (next to be held NA July 2007); vice president elected by both houses of Parliament for a five-year term; election last held 12 August 2002 (next to be held NA August 2007); prime minister elected by parliamentary members of the majority party following legislative elections; election last held NA October 1999 (next to be held NA October 2004)

Head of government: Prime Minister Atal Bihari VAJPAYEE (since 19 March 1998)

Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the president on the recommendation of the prime minister

Legislative Branch

Bicameral Parliament or Sansad consists of the Council of States or Rajya Sabha (a body consisting of not more than 250 members, up to 12 of which are appointed by the president, the remainder are chosen by the elected members of the state and territorial assemblies; members serve six-year terms) and the People's Assembly or Lok Sabha (545 seats; 543 elected by popular vote, 2 appointed by the president; members serve five-year terms)

Elections: People's Assembly - last held 5 September through 3 October 1999 (next to be held NA 2004)

Election results: People's Assembly - percent of vote by party - BJP alliance 40.8%, Congress (I) alliance 33.8%, other 25.4%; seats by party - BJP alliance 304, Congress (I) alliance 134, other 107

Judicial Branch

Supreme Court (judges are appointed by the president and remain in office until they reach the age of 65)

Diplomatic Representation in the U.S.:

Chief of mission: Ambassador Lalit MANSINGH
Consulates general: Chicago, Houston, New York, and San Francisco
FAX: [1] (202) 483-3972
Telephone: [1] (202) 939-7000
Chancery: 2107 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008; note - Embassy located at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

Diplomatic Representation from the U.S.:

Chief of mission: Ambassador Robert D. BLACKWILL
Embassy: Shantipath, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110021
Mailing address: use embassy street address
Telephone: [91] (11) 419-8000
FAX: [91] (11) 419-0017
Consulate(s) general: Chennai (Madras), Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay)

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India's economy encompasses traditional village farming, modern agriculture, handicrafts, a wide range of modern industries, and a multitude of support services. The economy has posted an excellent average growth rate of 6% since 1990, reducing poverty by about 10 percentage points. India has large numbers of well-educated people, who are skilled in the English language; India is a major exporter of software services. The severe monsoon of mid-2002 has reduced agricultural output by perhaps 3%.


Purchasing power parity - US$2.66 trillion, with the following composition by sector:

  • Agriculture: 25%
  • Industry: 25%
  • Services: 50%

Labor force - by occupation

  • Agriculture 60%
  • services 23%
  • industry 17% (1999)


The main industries include textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, and software.

Exchange Rates

Indian rupees per US dollar - 48.6103 (2002), 47.1864 (2001), 44.9416 (2000), 43.0554 (1999), 41.2594 (1998)

Telephone System

General assessment: local and long distance service provided throughout all regions of the country, with services primarily concentrated in the urban areas; major objective is to continue to expand and modernize

Long-distance network to keep pace with rapidly growing number of local subscriber lines; steady improvement is taking place with the recent admission of private and private-public investors, but, with telephone density at about two for each 100 persons and a waiting list of over 2 million, demand for main line telephone service will not be satisfied for a very long time

Domestic: local service is provided by microwave radio relay and coaxial cable, with open wire and obsolete electromechanical and manual switchboard systems still in use in rural areas; starting in the 1980s, a substantial amount of digital switch gear has been introduced for local and long-distance service; long-distance traffic is carried mostly by coaxial cable and low-capacity microwave radio relay; since 1985 significant trunk capacity has been added in the form of fiber-optic cable and a domestic satellite system with 254 earth stations; mobile cellular service is provided in four metropolitan cities.

International: satellite earth stations - 8 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Inmarsat (Indian Ocean region); nine gateway exchanges operating from Mumbai (Bombay), New Delhi, Kolkata (Calcutta), Chennai (Madras), Jalandhar, Kanpur, Gaidhinagar, Hyderabad, and Ernakulam; 4 submarine cables - LOCOM linking Chennai (Madras) to Penang; Indo-UAE-Gulf cable linking Mumbai (Bombay) to Al Fujayrah, UAE; India-SEA-ME-WE-3, SEA-ME-WE-2 with landing sites at Cochin and Mumbai (Bombay); Fiber-Optic Link Around the Globe (FLAG) with landing site at Mumbai (Bombay) (2000)

Television broadcast stations

562 (of which 82 stations have 1 kW or greater power and 480 stations have less than 1 kW of power) (1997)

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Total: 63,518 km (15,009 km electrified)
Broad gauge: 45,142 km 1.676-m gauge
Narrow gauge: 15,013 km 1.000-m gauge; 3,363 km 0.762-m gauge and 0.610-m gauge (2002)


Total: 3,319,644 km
Paved: 1,517,077 km
Unpaved: 1,802,567 km (1996)


16,180 km. Note: 3,631 km navigable by large vessels


Crude oil 3,005 km; petroleum products 2,687 km; natural gas 1,700 km (1995)

Ports and harbors:

Chennai (Madras), Cochin, Jawaharal Nehru, Kandla, Kolkata (Calcutta), Mumbai (Bombay), Vishakhapatnam

Merchant marine:

305 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 5,753,279 GRT/9,621,911 DWT

Ships by type: bulk 100, cargo 82, chemical tanker 15, combination bulk 2, combination ore/oil 2, container 10, liquefied gas 10, passenger/cargo 5, petroleum tanker 75, roll on/roll off 1, short-sea passenger 2, specialized tanker 1. Note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: China 1, UAE 10, UK 1 (2002 est.)


Total: 334 (2002)
With paved runways:
Total: 232
Over 3,047 m: 14
2,438 to 3,047 m: 47
914 to 1,523 m: 73
Under 914 m: 20 (2002)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 78

With unpaved runways:
Total: 102
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 9
Under 914 m: 48 (2002)
914 to 1,523 m: 42

Heliports: 19 (2002)

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Extra Reasons to Be Proud of India

  1. India is the world's largest, oldest, continuous civilization.
  2. India never invaded any country in her last 10,000 years of history.
  3. India is the world's largest democracy.
  4. Varanasi, also known as Benares, was called "The Ancient City" when Lord Buddha visited it in 500 B.C.E, and is the oldest, continuously inhabited city in the world today.
  5. India invented the Number System. Aryabhatta invented the number zero.
  6. The World's first university was established in Takshashila in 700 B.C. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built in the 4th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.
  7. Sanskrit is the mother of all European languages. Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software - a report in Forbes magazine, July 1987.
  8. Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans. Charaka, the father of medicine consolidated Ayurveda 2,500 years ago.
  9. Although modern images of India often show poverty and lack of development, India was the richest country on earth until the time of British invasion in the early 17th Century. Christopher Columbus discovered America trying to find an alternative way to get to India.
  10. The art of Navigation was born in the river Sindhu 6,000 years ago. The very word Navigation is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH. The word navy is also derived from Sanskrit 'Nou'.
  11. Bhaskaracharya calculated the time taken by the earth to orbit the sun hundreds of years before the astronomer Smart. Time taken by earth to orbit the sun: (5th century) 365.258756484 days.
  12. Budhayana, was the first to calculate the value of ?pi?. He then went on to explain the concept of what today is known as the ?Pythagorean Theorem?. He discovered this in the 6th century long before the European mathematicians.
  13. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India. Sridharacharya developed quadratic equations in the 11th century. The largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were 106, whereas Hindus were using numbers as big as 10 to the power of 53, as early as 5,000 BCE during the Vedic period. Even today, the largest used number is Tera (10 to the power of 12).
  14. IEEE has proved what has been a century old suspicion in the scientific community, that the pioneer of wireless communication was Prof. Jagdish Bose and not Marconi.
  15. The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.
  16. According to Saka King Rudradaman I of 150 BCE, a beautiful lake called Sudarshana was constructed on the hills of Raivataka during Chandragupta Maurya's time.
  17. Chess (Shataranja or AshtaPada) was invented in India.
  18. Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2,600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted complicated surgeries like cesareans, cataract, artificial limbs, fractures, urinary stones, plastic surgery and brain surgery. Usage of anesthesia was well known in ancient India. Over 125 surgical tools were used. Deep knowledge of anatomy, physiology, etiology, embryology, digestion, metabolism, genetics and immunity is also found in many texts.
  19. When many cultures were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5,000 years ago, Indians established the Harappan culture in the Sindhu Valley (Indus Valley Civilization).
  20. The four religions born in India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, are followed by 25% of the world's population.
  21. The place value system and the decimal system were developed in India in 100 BC.
  22. India is one of the few countries in the World, which gained independence without violence.
  23. India has the second largest pool of Scientists and Engineers in the World.
  24. India is the largest English-speaking nation in the world.
  25. India is the only country other than U.S. and Japan, to have built a super computer indigenously.

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Facts About India

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