India, officially the Republic of India, is the largest country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.18 billion people, 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 kilometres (4,700 mi). It is bordered by Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean.
Home to the Indus Valley Civilisation 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 religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, 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 non-violent resistance.
India is a federal constitutional republic consisting of 28 states and seven union territories with a parliamentary system of democracy. The Indian economy is the world's eleventh largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth largest by purchasing power parity. Economic reforms since 1991 have transformed it into one of the fastest growing economies in the world; however, it still suffers from poverty, illiteracy, corruption, disease, and malnutrition. India is a nuclear weapon state and has the third-largest standing army in the world. A pluralistic, multilingual and multiethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.
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