Exciting Facts: What do you know about India?
Hello to everybody! Want to know some exciting facts about India? Home to more than one billion people, India ranges from the Himalayas in the north, to fertile rivers and coastal plains in the south. A rich variety of cultures, faiths and languages makes India one of the most diverse nations on Earth. Actually, what do you know about India? Listen and discover all the amazing and interesting things India has to offer with these exciting facts.
- OFFICIAL NAME: Republic of India, Bharat
- FORM OF GOVERNMENT: Federal republic
- CAPITAL: New Delhi
- POPULATION: 1,296,834,042
- OFFICIAL LANGUAGES: Hindi, English, 21 others
- MONEY: Rupee
- AREA: 1,269,345 square miles (3,287,590 square kilometers)
- MAJOR MOUNTAIN RANGE: Himalaya
- MAJOR RIVERS: Ganges, Yamuna, Indus, Brahmaputra
India is part of the continent of Asia, where India forms a peninsula, which means it is surrounded by water on three sides. On the one hand, the world’s highest mountain range, the Himalaya, rises in the north. On the other hand, the southeast is bordered by the Bay of Bengal, and the southwest is bordered by the Arabian Sea.
India’s terrain varies widely, from the Thar Desert in the west to jungles in the northeast. A fertile area called the Ganges Plain covers much of northern India. This formation was created from soil that was deposited by rivers running from the Himalaya. In some places, this layer of silt is over 25,000 feet deep (that is, 7,620 meters deep).
For thousands of years, since the Hindu religion first evolved, respect for animal life has been an important part of Indians’ beliefs. Cows in particular are sacred and cannot be harmed. They can even wander through city streets, which often causes traffic jams!
India’s varied climate zones support about 65,000 animal species, including elephants, pythons, river dolphins, and rhinos, and 12,000 types of flowering plants. It is the only country in the world with both lions and tigers. On top of that, it’s also a bird watcher’s paradise.
On the coast of the Bay of Bengal is the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest. Here, tigers swim in the same rivers as dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, and saltwater crocodiles. This unique landscape is constantly under threat as sea levels rise and humans hunt illegally and clear trees for firewood.
The Himalaya mountains provide a home for some of India’s rarest animals and plants. For instance, the most elusive animal is the snow leopard. Also, bears and black buck live lower down, and in the northeast, the tiger and one-horned rhinoceros can be found.
Government and economy
India’s parliamentary government was inherited from the British. After independence in 1947, one party, the Congress Party, and one family, the Nehru family, dominated politics in India for decades. Now, many parties compete for elected positions.
India’s economy is growing so fast that experts predict it will soon become one of the world’s leading markets. Indians are hard workers, and though many are poorly educated, there are many others who are highly trained college graduates.
India is a very spiritual country. Although it has no official religion, more than 80 percent of Indians are Hindu and about 13 percent are Muslim. Other religions include Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism, which all began in India.
India’s earliest known civilization arose about 5,000 years ago on the Indus River in what is now Pakistan. Archaeologists uncovered the remains of two huge cities with brick houses, piped water, and sewer systems. Nobody knows why, but people abandoned these cities, called Harappa and Mohenjo Daro, in 1700 B.C.
The Aryan people were farmers from Central Asia who arrived in India around 1500 B.C. They spoke Sanskrit, one of the world’s oldest known languages. The Vedic Scriptures, writings that form the basis of the Hindu religion, were written during the Aryan reign.
In the 200-year reign of the Gupta Empire, starting in the fourth century A.D., arts, crafts, and sciences flourished. During this time, the Indian astronomer Aryabhatta determined that the Earth revolved around the sun. This was long before the Western world accepted the theory.
Beginning in the 16th century, following a series of invasions by Muslim forces, a Mongol leader named Babur founded the Mongol Empire, which oversaw a golden age of art, literature, and architecture in India between 1527 and 1707. They built roads, mosques, gardens, and enormous tombs, including the grand Taj Mahal.
In the late 1400s, Europeans arrived in India and began setting up trading companies. After that, in 1757, Britain gained control over most of the country. Uprisings against British rule began in 1856. In 1920, the famous Mahatma Gandhi began nonviolent protests to push the British out. Finally, in 1947, India had independence.
Did you know?
- People in India greet each other by saying ‘Namaste’ (pronounced na-ma-stay) which means ‘I bow my head to you’.
- Indians celebrate Independence Day on 15 August. India became independent after British rule on 15 August 1947.
- Many women in India wear saris, which are long pieces of cloth draped around the waist and shoulders – like a dress. Men in India wear dhotis, which is another kind of long piece of cloth that is tied around the waist and between the legs – like trousers.
- A popular instrument in India is the sitar, which is like a guitar but with a much longer neck.
- The monsoon season in India is the time when the country has the most rain, and it can last from July to September.
- The money that people in India use is called rupees – £1 is worth about the same as 85 rupees.
- One of the main festivals in India is Diwali – it takes place around the end of October, and signals the start of the new year in the Indian calendar. Everyone lights lamps in their homes during Diwali, receiving the name of ‘festival of lights’.
- There are three bodies of water around India: the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
- The main river in India is the Ganges, in the northeast of the country.
- Cows are sacred in India, and must not be harmed. They can go where they want, and may even cause traffic jams when they walk through cities!
- India is the only country in the world where both lions and tigers live.
- Children in India begin school in April or June.
Names to remember
Gautam Buddha (563-483 BC) – Gautan Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. So, during his life, people considered him a spiritual teacher.
Guru Nanak (1469-1539) – Guru Nakak founded Sikhism. Leaders of Sikhism receive the name of Gurus in honour of Guru Nanak.
Mohandas Ghandi (1869-1948) – Mohandas Ghandi led a nationalist movement in India that supported independence from British rule. He was also called Mahatma, which is a title of honour. Ghandi supported non-violent forms of protest.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) – Rudyard Kipling is an English author who spent his some of his life as a child and young adult in India. As a result, his time in India and the culture there inspired much of his writing. He is most known for his Just So Stories and The Jungle Book.
Just for fun…
- Make some Indian crafts including mandalas and temporary henna tattoos
- Try this quiz about India and Indian traditions
- Download the British Council’s India activity pack for kids and make shadow puppets of Rama and Sita. Besides, learn some Hindi and try some Indian cooking
- Also, do some Diwali and Rangoli crafting
- Worksheets about India to complete
- Print out some India colouring pages
- Learn to cook some Indian food including naan bread, aloo pakora and lassi
- Make your own portable pachisi and play the national game of India
- Also, learn useful Hindi phrases and find out how to pronounce the words correctly
- Listen to children’s music from India, including rhymes and sonds in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Assamese, Bengali and Malayalam
- Mangoes of India is an interactive game
- Can you complete an India States and Capitals Map Puzzle?
- Also, watch and listen to 10 fantastic Bollywood Dance Songs
- Try some Hindi colouring sheets and alphabet sheets
- Examine some Indian objects in a BBC interactive guide
- Listen to a BBC Schools Radio audio guide to the city of Kochi in the state of Kerala in India
- Moreover, make your own paper model of the Taj Mahal
Find out more!
- The BBC Bitesize video introduction to India
- Read the National Geographic Kids facts guides to Diwali and India
- A children’s guide to modern India, an independent nation since 1947
- A map of India to print out
- Download an Action Aid factsheet about India, the world’s largest democracy, for KS2 kids
- Watch loads of different BBC video clips about life in India
- Moreover, find out more about the art of henna
- Primary History: Indus Valley
- Also, see classical musical instruments from India
- Listen to the Hindi alphabet
- Find out about traditional games played by Indian children
- BBC Bitesize videos about life in different areas of India and an Indian school day
See for yourself!
Explore Indian sights and landscapes on the Google Arts & Culture website
Some of India’s top tourist attractions:
- Taj Mahal
- Ganges River
- Mountain Railways of India
- National Ghandi Museum
- Elephanta caves
- Goa beaches – also called ‘beach paradise’!
- Tiger reserves – part of the Project Tiger scheme
Above all, take care and enjoy life! ,-)