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About India | India Facts | Capitol Visa Services


For many, India conjures visions of Ghandi and the Ganges River. However, visitors may be surprised to learn Indian is a country of many faces. It is home alike to many still mired in the anachronistic tribal standard of living and the few who enjoy an urban, jet-setting lifestyle.

This disparity reflects its many years under foreign rule and decades of economic isolation. Once India threw off these burdens, it evolved into the world’s largest democracy. With the testing of nuclear weapons in the 1990s, India emerged as a major power on the world’s stage.

Visitors will find a land of ancient monuments that stand side-by-side with a booming economy. Positioned between China, Pakistan and Nepal, India today offers a variety of activities, thanks to its greatly disparate geography, climates and culture.

The Himalayas, considered the world’s highest mountain chain, provide a wealth of activities for adventure travelers, including heli-skiing, trekking and mountain climbing. Others may enjoy windsurfing and snorkeling along the coastline, as well as the photographic pursuit of wildlife in its jungles.
Culture seekers will be intrigues by the many ornate temples of south India and historical museums found throughout the country.

For all visitors, the many different influences that have shaped India are still clearly visible.  
For example, the culture found in the high-altitude deserts of the extreme north was shaped both by the Buddhists and a harsh topography.

The fishing traditions of Kerala reflect an ancient Chinese influence, while the terra-cotta figures of the northwestern region trace their roots to ancient Greece.

The artistic handicrafts and handloom products from the tribal villages of central India date back thousands of years; while the austere lifestyle of the Kutch desert population resulted in vibrant jewelry and ornamental linens.

Ancient spiritual faiths, dating back to 3,200 BC, also helped develop the Indian culture. Buddhism and Islam stand side-by-side with Sikhism, Judaism, Christianity and Zoroastrianism.

Likewise, India’s many natural attributes attracted international traders, who left their own foreign mark.

Indeed, India’s many culture and heritages have make this south Asian land a tourist Mecca.

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Full country name: Republic of India
Area: 3.3 million square kilometers (1.3 million square miles) -- slightly more than one-third the size of the US
Population: 1.1 million (July 2006 est.)
Time Difference: 13 hours ahead of Washington, D.C. during Standard Time
Location: Southern Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Burma and Pakistan
Climate: Varies from tropical monsoon in south to temperate in north
Terrain: Upland plain (Deccan Plateau) in south; flat to rolling plain along the Ganges; deserts in west; and Himalayas in north
Reference map:
Currency: Indian rupee
Exchange rate: One Rupee = $0.02246  or  $1 = One 44.53131 Rupee (January 2007)
International calling code: 86
Ethnic groups: Indo-Aryan 72%; Dravidian 25%; Mongoloid and other 3% (2000 est.)
Languages: 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
Religions: Hindu 80.5%; Muslim 13.4%; Christian 2.3%; Sikh 1.9%; and other 1.8% (2001 census)
Government: Federal Republic
Capital city: New Delhi
GDP: $3.7 trillion (2005 est.)
GDP per capita: $3,400 (2005 est.)
Agricultural products: Rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes; cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry; and fish
Major products/Industries: Textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery and software
Recommended vaccinations:
Environmental issues: Deforestation; soil erosion; overgrazing; desertification; air pollution from industrial effluents and vehicle emissions; water pollution from raw sewage and runoff of agricultural pesticides; tap water is not potable throughout the country; and the huge and growing population is overstraining natural resources.

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