India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Mainland India is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, theArabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east; and it is bordered by Pakistan to the west; Bhutan, the People's Republic of China and Nepal to the north; and Bangladesh andBurma to the east. In the Indian Ocean, mainland India and the Lakshadweep Islands are in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands share maritime border with Thailand and the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the Andaman Sea. India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometres (4,700 mi).
Home to the ancient 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 of the world's 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 18th century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-19th century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence which was marked by a non-violent resistance led by Mahatma Gandhi.
India is a federal constitutional republic with a parliamentary democracy consisting of 28 states and seven union territories. A pluralistic, multilingual and multiethnic society where more than 400 languages are spoken, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. The Indian economy is the world's eleventh largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth largestby purchasing power parity. Since the introduction of market-based economic reforms in 1991, India has become one of the fastest growing major economies in the world; however, the country continues to face several poverty, illiteracy, corruption and public health related challenges. India is classified as a newly industrialised country and is one of the four BRIC nations. It is the world's sixth de facto recognised nuclear weapons state and has the third-largest standing armed force in the world, while its military expenditure ranks tenth in the world. India is a regional powerin South Asia.
It is a founding member of the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the World Trade Organization, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, the East Asia Summit, theG20 and the G8+5; a member of the Commonwealth of Nations; and an observer state in theShanghai Cooperation Organisation.