India Travel Information:
India is one of the oldest civilizations in the world with a kaleidoscopic variety and rich cultural heritage. It has achieved all-round socio-economic progress during the last 62 years of its Independence. India has become self-sufficient in agricultural production and is now one of the top industrialized countries in the world and one of the few nations to have gone into outer space to conquer nature for the benefit of the people.
It covers an area of 32, 87,263 sq. km, extending from the snow-covered Himalayan heights to the tropical rain forests of the south. As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity. Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.
Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, the mainland extends between latitudes 8° 4' and 37° 6' north, longitudes 68° 7' and 97° 25' east and measures about 3,214 km from north to south between the extreme latitudes and about 2,933 km from east to west between the extreme longitudes. It has a land frontier of about 15,200 km. The total length of the coastline of the mainland, Lakshadweep Islands and Andaman & Nicobar Islands is 7,516.6 km.
Language: 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 41% 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 (2001 census)
Religion: India's constitution considers the Buddhist, Jain and Sikh faiths different from the Hindu religion, but the constitution is often interpreted to include those faiths in Hinduism. This interpretation has been a contentious issue, particularly for the Sikh community that views itself as a unique religion and clearly distinct from Hinduism. In this regard, Sikhs have sought a separately codified body of law applying only to them. Freedom of religion is generally respected, but some state and local governments only partially respect this freedom. A number of federal and state laws regulate religious life in India. The government is empowered to ban a religious organization if it has provoked intercommunity friction, has been involved in terrorism or sedition, or has violated the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, which regulates funding from abroad. Citizens and foreigners can propagate their religious beliefs, but speaking publicly against other beliefs is considered dangerous to public order and is prohibited. The government permits private religious schools, which can offer religious instruction, but it does not permit religious instruction in government schools. Since most students in the majority of Christian schools are Hindu, the schools have long restricted religious instruction on Christianity only to those students who are Christian.
Climate: Mostly temperate, but tropical in Hawaii and Florida, arctic in Alaska, semiarid in the Great Plains west of the Mississippi River and arid in the Great Basin of the Varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north southwest; low winter temperatures in the northwest are warmed occasionally in January and February by chinook winds from the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
Education: The typical school year runs from June through April. Public education is available through high school, but only 59 percent of males and 39 percent of females enroll in secondary school. The secondary status afforded to girls within a family goes toward denying them the basic right to an education as guaranteed by the constitution. Girls are generally pulled out of school to help with family responsibilities like caring for their siblings or doing the housework. If a family has to choose between educating a son or a daughter because of financial constraints, typically the son will be chosen. Many parents view educating sons as an investment because the sons are supposed to care for aging parents. On the other hand, educating daughters is seen as a waste of money, since daughters will eventually live with their husband's families and the parents will not benefit directly from their education. Also, educated girls will have higher dowry expenses because they will need a comparably educated husband. Lack of female teachers especially in rural India is another potential barrier to girls' education because of the gender segregation practiced in traditional Indian society.