South Asia

South Asia or Southern Asia, is a term used to represent the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan SAARC countries and, for some authorities, adjoining countries to the west and east. Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate, which rises above sea level as Nepal and northern parts of India situated south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. South Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean and on land (clockwise, from west) by West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

The current territories of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka form South Asia.[3] The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic cooperation organisation in the region which was established in 1985 and includes all eight nations comprising South Asia.[4]

South Asia covers about 5.2 million km2 (2 million mi2), which is 11.71% of the Asian continent or 3.5% of the world's land surface area.[3] The population of South Asia is about 1.891 billion or about one fourth of the world's population, making it both the most populous and the most densely populated geographical region in the world.[5] Overall, it accounts for about 39.49% of Asia's population, over 24% of the world's population, and is home to a vast array of people.[6][7][8]

In 2010, South Asia had the world's largest population of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. It also has the largest population of Muslims in the Asia-Pacific region,[9][10] as well as over 35 million Christians and 25 million Buddhists.[11]

South Asia
South Asia (orthographic projection)
Area5,221,093 km2 (2,015,875 sq mi)
Population1,891,454,121 (1st)[1]
Population density362.3/km2 (938/sq mi)
GDP (nominal)$3.3 trillion[2]
GDP (PPP)$11.6 trillion[2]
GDP per capita$1,745[2]
HDI0.638
Ethnic groupsIndo-Aryan, Dravidian, Sino-Tibetan, Austroasiatic, Iranian, etc.
ReligionsHinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism, Christianity, Jainism, Kirat, Ahmaddiyya
DemonymSouth Asian
Countries
Dependencies
Languages
Time zones
Internet TLD.af, .bd, .bt, .in,
.lk, .mv, .np, .pk
Calling codeZone 8 & 9
Largest cities
UN M.49 code034 – Southern Asia
142Asia
001World

Definitions

South Asia UN
United Nations cartographic map of South Asia.[12] However, the United Nations does not endorse any definitions or area boundaries.[note 1]

The total area of South Asia and its geographical extent is not clear cut as systemic and foreign policy orientations of its constituents are quite asymmetrical.[13] Aside from the central region of South Asia, formerly part of the British Empire, there is a high degree of variation as to which other countries are included in South Asia.[14][15][16][17]

Modern definitions of South Asia are consistent in including Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries.[18][19][20][21][22][23] Myanmar is included by some scholars in South Asia, but in Southeast Asia by others.[15][24] Some do not include Afghanistan,[15] others question whether Afghanistan should be considered a part of South Asia or the Middle East.[25][26]

The current territories of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan, which were the core of the British Empire from 1857 to 1947, form the central region of South Asia, in addition to Afghanistan,[18][19][20][21][22][23] which was a British protectorate until 1919, after the Afghans lost to the British in the Second Anglo-Afghan war. The mountain countries of Nepal and Bhutan, and the island countries of Sri Lanka and Maldives are generally included as well. Myanmar (formerly Burma) is often added, and by various deviating definitions based on often substantially different reasons, the British Indian Ocean Territory and the Tibet Autonomous Region are included as well.[13][27][28][29][30][31][32][33][34]

The common concept of South Asia is largely inherited from the administrative boundaries of the British Raj,[35] with several exceptions. The Aden Colony, British Somaliland and Singapore, though administered at various times under the Raj, have not been proposed as any part of South Asia.[36] Additionally Burma was administered as part of the Raj until 1937, but is now considered a part of Southeast Asia and is a member state of ASEAN. The 562 princely states that were protected by but not directly ruled by the Raj became administrative parts of South Asia upon joining Union of India or Dominion of Pakistan.[37][38][39] Geopolitically, it had formed the whole territory of Greater India,[24][40]

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), a contiguous block of countries, started in 1985 with seven countries – Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – and added Afghanistan as an eighth member in 2007.[41][42] China and Myanmar have also applied for the status of full members of SAARC.[43][44] This bloc of countries include two independent countries that were not part of the British Raj – Nepal, and Bhutan. Afghanistan was a British protectorate from 1878 until 1919, after the Afghans lost to the British in the Second Anglo-Afghan war. The World Factbook, based on geo-politics, people, and economy defines South Asia as comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, British Indian Ocean Territory, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.[45] The South Asia Free Trade Agreement incorporated Afghanistan in 2011, and the World Bank grouping of countries in the region also includes all eight members comprising South Asia and SAARC as well,[46][47] and the same goes for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).[48][49]

The United Nations Statistics Division's scheme of sub-regions include all eight members of the SAARC as part of Southern Asia, along with Iran[62] only for statistical purposes.[63] Population Information Network (POPIN) includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as part of South Asia. Maldives, in view of its characteristics, was admitted as a member Pacific POPIN subregional network only in principle.[64] The Hirschman–Herfindahl index of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for the region includes only the original seven signatories of SAARC.[65]

The British Indian Ocean Territory is connected to the region by a publication of Jane's for security considerations.[66] The region may also include the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which was part of the British Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, but is now administered as part of the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang.[67]

The inclusion of Myanmar in South Asia is without consensus, with many considering it a part of Southeast Asia and others including it within South Asia.[15][24] Afghanistan was of importance to the British colonial empire, especially after the Second Anglo-Afghan War over 1878–1880. Afghanistan remained a British protectorate until 1919, when a treaty with Vladimir Lenin included the granting of independence to Afghanistan. Following India's partition, Afghanistan has generally been included in South Asia, with some considering it a part of Southwest Asia.[13] During the Soviet–Afghan War (1979–1989) American foreign policy considered Pakistan and Afghanistan in Southwest Asia, while others included it as a part of South Asia.[3] There is no universal agreement among scholars on which countries should be included within South Asia.[15]

In the past, a lack of a coherent definition for South Asia resulted in not only a lack of academic studies, but also in a lack interest for such studies.[68] The confusion existed also because of the lack of a clear boundary – geographically, geopolitical, socio-culturally, economically or historically – between South Asia and other parts of Asia, especially the Middle East and Southeast Asia.[69] Identification with a South Asian identity was also found to be significantly low among respondents in an older two-year survey across Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.[70] However, modern definitions of South Asia are very consistent in including Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries.[18][19][20][21][22][23]

Indian subcontinent

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "subcontinent" signifies a "subdivision of a continent which has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity" and also a "large land mass somewhat smaller than a continent".[71][72] Historians Catherine Asher and Cynthia Talbot state that the term "Indian subcontinent" describes a natural physical landmass in South Asia that has been relatively isolated from the rest of Eurasia.[73] The Indian subcontinent is also a geological term referring to the land mass that drifted northeastwards from ancient Gondwana, colliding with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Palaeocene. This geological region largely includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.[74]

The use of the term Indian subcontinent began in the British Empire, and has been a term particularly common in its successors.[75] This region has also been labelled as "India" (in its classical and pre-modern sense), "Greater India", or as South Asia.[24][40]

According to anthropologist John R. Lukacs, "the Indian Subcontinent occupies the major landmass of South Asia",[76] while the political science professor Tatu Vanhanen states, "the seven countries of South Asia constitute geographically a compact region around the Indian Subcontinent".[77] According to Chris Brewster, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan constitute the Indian subcontinent; with Afghanistan and Maldives included it is more commonly referred to as South Asia.[78] The geopolitical boundaries of Indian subcontinent, according to Dhavendra Kumar, include "India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and other small islands of the Indian Ocean".[79] Maldives, the country consisting of a small archipelago southwest of the peninsula, is considered part of the Indian subcontinent.[80]

The terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are sometimes used interchangeably.[27][75] The South Asia term is particularly common when scholars or officials seek to differentiate this region from East Asia.[81] According to historians Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, the Indian subcontinent has come to be known as South Asia "in more recent and neutral parlance."[82] This "neutral" notion refers to the concerns of Pakistan and Bangladesh, particularly given the recurring conflicts between India and Pakistan, wherein the dominant placement of "India" as a prefix before the subcontinent might offend some political sentiments.[24]

There is no globally accepted definition on which countries are a part of South Asia or Indian subcontinent.[15][16][17] While Afghanistan is not considered as a part of the Indian subcontinent, Afghanistan is often included in South Asia.[17] Similarly, Myanmar is included by some scholars in South Asia but not in Indian subcontinent.[24]

History

Ancient era

The history of core South Asia begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens, as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago.[83] The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of South Asia from c. 3300 to 1300 BCE in present-day Northern India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, was the first major civilization in South Asia.[84] A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture developed in the Mature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BCE.[85]

The earliest prehistoric culture have roots in the mesolithic sites as evidenced by the rock paintings of Bhimbetka rock shelters dating to a period of 30,000 BCE or older,[note 2] as well as neolithic times.[note 3] According to anthropologist Possehl, the Indus Valley Civilization provides a logical, if somewhat arbitrary, starting point for South Asian religions, but these links from the Indus religion to later-day South Asian traditions are subject to scholarly dispute.[86]

Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma Adoring Kali LACMA M.80.101 (2 of 7)
The Trimurti is the trinity of supreme divinity in Hinduism, typically Brahma the creator, Vishnu the preserver, and Shiva the destroyer

The Vedic period, named after the Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans,[note 4] lasted from c. 1900 to 500 BCE.[88][89] The Indo-Aryans were pastoralists[90] who migrated into north-western India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization,[87][91] Linguistic and archaeological data show a cultural change after 1500 BCE,[87] with the linguistic and religious data clearly showing links with Indo-European languages and religion.[92] By about 1200 BCE, the Vedic culture and agrarian lifestyle was established in the northwest and northern Gangetic plain of South Asia.[90][93][94] Rudimentary state-forms appeared, of which the Kuru-Pañcāla union was the most influential.[95][96] The first recorded state-level society in South Asia existed around 1000 BCE.[90] In this period, states Samuel, emerged the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of Vedic texts, which merged into the earliest Upanishads.[97] These texts began to ask the meaning of a ritual, adding increasing levels of philosophical and metaphysical speculation,[97] or "Hindu synthesis".[98]

Increasing urbanisation of India between 800 and 400 BCE, and possibly the spread of urban diseases, contributed to the rise of ascetic movements and of new ideas which challenged the orthodox Brahmanism.[99] These ideas led to Sramana movements, of which Mahavira (c. 549–477 BCE), proponent of Jainism, and Buddha (c. 563-483), founder of Buddhism, were the most prominent icons.[100]

The Greek army led by Alexander the Great stayed in the Hindu Kush region of South Asia for several years and then later moved into the Indus valley region. Later, the Maurya Empire extended over much of South Asia in the 3rd century BCE. Buddhism spread beyond south Asia, through northwest into Central Asia. The Bamiyan Buddhas of Afghanistan and the edicts of Aśoka suggest that the Buddhist monks spread Buddhism (Dharma) in eastern provinces of the Seleucid Empire, and possibly even farther into West Asia.[101][102][103] The Theravada school spread south from India in the 3rd century BCE, to Sri Lanka, later to Southeast Asia.[104] Buddhism, by the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE, was prominent in the Himalayan region, Gandhara, Hindu Kush region and Bactria.[105][106][107]

From about 500 BCE through about 300 CE, the Vedic-Brahmanic synthesis or "Hindu synthesis" continued.[98] Classical Hindu and Sramanic (particularly Buddhist) ideas spread within South Asia, as well outside South Asia.[108][109][110] The Gupta Empire ruled over a large part of the region between 4th and 7th centuries, a period that saw the construction of major temples, monasteries and universities such as the Nalanda.[111][112][113] During this era, and through the 10th century, numerous cave monasteries and temples such as the Ajanta Caves, Badami cave temples and Ellora Caves were built in South Asia.[114][115][116]

Medieval era

Timur defeats the sultan of Delhi
Turco-Mongol conqueror Timur defeats the Sultan of Delhi, Nasir-u Din Mehmud, in the winter of 1397–1398

Islam came as a political power in the fringe of South Asia in 8th century CE when the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab in modern-day Pakistan.[117] By 962 CE, Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in South Asia were under a wave of raids from Muslim armies from Central Asia.[118] Among them was Mahmud of Ghazni, who raided and plundered kingdoms in north India from east of the Indus river to west of Yamuna river seventeen times between 997 and 1030.[119] Mahmud of Ghazni raided the treasuries but retracted each time, only extending Islamic rule into western Punjab.[120][121]

The wave of raids on north Indian and western Indian kingdoms by Muslim warlords continued after Mahmud of Ghazni, plundering and looting these kingdoms.[122] The raids did not establish or extend permanent boundaries of their Islamic kingdoms. The Ghurid Sultan Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad began a systematic war of expansion into north India in 1173.[123] He sought to carve out a principality for himself by expanding the Islamic world.[119][124] Mu'izz sought a Sunni Islamic kingdom of his own extending east of the Indus river, and he thus laid the foundation for the Muslim kingdom that became the Delhi Sultanate.[119] Some historians chronicle the Delhi Sultanate from 1192 due to the presence and geographical claims of Mu'izz al-Din in South Asia by that time.[125] The Delhi Sultanate covered varying parts of South Asia, and was ruled by a series of dynasties, called Mamluk, Khalji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodi dynasties. Muhammad bin Tughlaq came to power in 1325, launched a war of expansion and the Delhi Sultanate reached it largest geographical reach over the South Asian region during his 26-year rule.[126] A Sunni Sultan, Muhammad bin Tughlaq persecuted non-Muslims such as Hindus, as well as non-Sunni Muslims such as Shia and Mahdi sects.[127][128][129]

Revolts against the Delhi Sultanate sprang up in many parts of South Asia during the 14th century. After the death of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the Bengal Sultanate came to power in 1352 CE, as the Delhi Sultanate began disintegrating. The Bengal Sultanate remained in power through the early 16th century. It was reconquered by the armies of the Mughal Empire. The state religion of the Bengal Sultanate was Islam, and the region under its rule, a region that ultimately emerged as the modern nation of Bangladesh, saw a growth of a syncretic form of Islam.[130][131] In the Deccan region, the Hindu kingdom Vijayanagara Empire came to power in 1336 and remained in power through the 16th century, after which it too was reconquered and absorbed into the Mughal Empire.[132][133]

About 1526, the Punjab governor Dawlat Khan Lodī reached out to the Mughal Babur and invited him to attack Delhi Sultanate. Babur defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi in the Battle of Panipat in 1526. The death of Ibrahim Lodi ended the Delhi Sultanate, and the Mughal Empire replaced it.[134]

Modern era

The modern history period of South Asia, that is 16th-century onwards, witnessed the start of the Central Asian dynasty named the Mughals, with Turkish-Mongol roots and Sunni Islam theology. The first ruler was Babur, whose empire extended the northwest and Indo-Gangetic Plain regions of South Asia. The Deccan and northeastern region of the South Asia was largely under Hindu kings such as those of Vijayanagara Empire and Ahom kingdom,[135] with some regions such as parts of modern Telangana and Andhra Pradesh under local Sultanates such as the Shia Islamic rulers of Golconda Sultanate.[136]

British Indian Empire 1909 Imperial Gazetteer of India
British Indian Empire in 1909. British India is shaded pink, the princely states yellow.

The Mughal Empire continued its wars of expansion after Babur's death. With the fall of Rajput kingdoms and Vijayanagara, its boundaries reached all of west, as well as the Marathi and Kannada speaking regions of the Deccan peninsula. The Mughal Empire was marked by a period of artistic exchanges and a Central Asian and South Asian architecture synthesis, with remarkable buildings such as the Taj Mahal.[137] It also marked an extended period of religious persecution.[138] Two of the religious leaders of Sikhism, Guru Arjan and Guru Tegh Bahadur were arrested under orders of the Mughal emperors, asked to convert to Islam, and executed when they refused.[139][140][141] Religious taxes on non-Muslims called jizya were imposed. Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh temples were desecrated. However, not all Muslim rulers persecuted non-Muslims. Akbar, a Mughal ruler for example, sought religious tolerance and abolished jizya.[142] After his death, the persecution of non-Muslims in South Asia returned.[143] The persecution and religious violence in South Asia peaked during Aurangzeb era, with him issuing orders in 1669, to all his governors of provinces to "destroy with a willing hand the schools and temples of the infidels, and that they were strictly enjoined to put an entire stop to the teaching and practice of idolatrous forms of worship".[144][145] In Aurangzeb's time, almost all of South Asia was claimed by the Mughal Empire. However, this claim was violently challenged in various regions of South Asia, particularly by the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh in the northwest,[146] and by Shivaji in the Deccan regions.[147]

Maritime trading between South Asia and European merchants began after the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama returned to Europe. After the death of Aurangzeb and the collapse of the Mughal Empire, the region came under the rule of many small Islamic sultanates and Hindu kingdoms. British, French, Portuguese colonial interests struck treaties with these rulers, and established their trading ports. In northwest South Asia, a large region was consolidated into the Sikh Empire by Ranjit Singh.[148][149] After his death, the British Empire expanded their interests till the Hindu Kush region. In the east, the Bengal region was split into Muslim East Bengal and Hindu West Bengal, by the colonial British empire, in early 1900s, a split that was reversed. However, after the World War II, at the eve of India's independence, the region was split again into East Pakistan and West Bengal. East Pakistan became Bangladesh in 1971.[150][151]

Geography

Indian subcontinent
While South Asia had never been a coherent geopolitical region, it has a distinct geographical identity
Himalaya-formation
The Indian peninsula, and the Himalayas on the northeast, is the result of the collision of the Indian Plate with the Eurasian Plate through tectonic activity between 20 and 50 million years ago.

According to Saul Cohen, early colonial era strategists treated South Asia with East Asia, but in reality the South Asia region excluding Afghanistan is a distinct geopolitical region separated from other nearby geostrategic realms, one that is geographically diverse.[152] The region is home to a variety of geographical features, such as glaciers, rainforests, valleys, deserts, and grasslands that are typical of much larger continents. It is surrounded by three water bodies – the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea – and has acutely varied climate zones. The tip of the Indian Peninsula had the highest quality pearls.[153]

Boundary

The boundaries of South Asia vary based on how the region is defined. South Asia's northern, eastern, and western boundaries vary based on definitions used, while the Indian Ocean is the southern periphery. Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by mountain barriers.[154][155] Much of the region consists of a peninsula in south-central Asia, rather resembling a diamond which is delineated by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east,[156] and which extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast.[27][29]

According to Robert M. Cutler – a scholar of Political Science at Carleton University,[157] the terms South Asia, Southwest Asia and Central Asia are distinct, but the confusion and disagreements have arisen due to the geopolitical movement to enlarge these regions into Greater South Asia, Greater Southwest Asia and Greater Central Asia. The frontier of Greater South Asia, states Cutler, between 2001–2006 has been geopolitically extended to eastern Iran and western Afghanistan in the west, and in the north to northeastern Iran, northern Afghanistan, and southern Uzbekistan.[157]

Indian plate

Most of this region is resting on the Indian Plate, the northerly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate, separated from the rest of the Eurasian Plate. The Indian Plate includes most of South Asia, forming a land mass which extends from the Himalayas into a portion of the basin under the Indian Ocean, including parts of South China and Eastern Indonesia, as well as Kunlun and Karakoram ranges,[158][159] and extending up to but not including Ladakh, Kohistan, the Hindu Kush range and Balochistan.[160][161][162] It may be noted that geophysically the Yarlung Tsangpo River in Tibet is situated at the outside of the border of the regional structure, while the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan are situated inside that border.[163]

It was once a small continent before colliding with the Eurasian Plate about 50–55 million years ago and giving birth to the Himalayan range and the Tibetan plateau. It is the peninsular region south of the Himalayas and Kuen Lun mountain ranges and east of the Indus River and the Iranian Plateau, extending southward into the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Sea (to the southwest) and the Bay of Bengal (to the southeast).

Climate

The climate of this vast region varies considerably from area to area from tropical monsoon in the south to temperate in the north. The variety is influenced by not only the altitude, but also by factors such as proximity to the sea coast and the seasonal impact of the monsoons. Southern parts are mostly hot in summers and receive rain during monsoon periods. The northern belt of Indo-Gangetic plains also is hot in summer, but cooler in winter. The mountainous north is colder and receives snowfall at higher altitudes of Himalayan ranges.

As the Himalayas block the north-Asian bitter cold winds, the temperatures are considerably moderate in the plains down below. For most part, the climate of the region is called the Monsoon climate, which keeps the region humid during summer and dry during winter, and favours the cultivation of jute, tea, rice, and various vegetables in this region.

South Asia is largely divided into four broad climate zones:[165]

Maximum relative humidity of over 80% has been recorded in Khasi and Jaintia Hills and Sri Lanka, while the area adjustment to Pakistan and western India records lower than 20%–30%.[165] Climate of South Asia is largely characterized by monsoons. South Asia depends critically on monsoon rainfall.[166] Two monsoon systems exist in the region:[167]

  • The summer monsoon: Wind blows from southwest to most of parts of the region. It accounts for 70%–90% of the annual precipitation.
  • The winter monsoon: Wind blows from northeast. Dominant in Sri Lanka and Maldives.

The warmest period of the year precedes the monsoon season (March to mid June). In the summer the low pressures are centered over the Indus-Gangetic Plain and high wind from the Indian Ocean blows towards the center. The monsoons are second coolest season of the year because of high humidity and cloud covering. But, at the beginning of June the jetstreams vanish above the Tibetan Plateau, low pressure over the Indus Valley deepens and the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) moves in. The change is violent. Moderately vigorous monsoon depressions form in the Bay of Bengal and make landfall from June to September.[165]

Statistical data

Country
[168][168][169][170]
Capital
[170][171][172]
Area
(km2)
[173]
Population
(2017)[174]
Density
(per km2)
Nominal GDP
(2017)[175]
GDP per capita

(2017)[176]

HDI

(2016)[177]

 Afghanistan Kabul 652,864 36,373,176 53.3 $20.57 billion $559 0.479
 Bangladesh Dhaka 147,570 166,368,149 1,116.6 $285.88 billion $1,754 0.579
 Bhutan Thimphu 38,394 817,054 20.6 $2.31 billion $2,870 0.607
 India New Delhi 3,287,263 1,354,051,854 408.4 $2,450 billion $1,850 0.624
 Maldives Malé 298 444,259 1,261.3 $3.58 billion $9,950 0.701
   Nepal Kathmandu 147,181 29,624,035 198.3 $28.42 bilion $1,026 0.574
 Pakistan Islamabad 881,913 200,813,818 223.1 $304.4 billion $1,629 0.550
 Sri Lanka Colombo 65,610 20,950,041 318.6 $84.02 billion $3,930 0.766
Total 5,221,093 1,891,454,121 - - - -

Past and Future Population

Rank Country Area 1950 2000 2050 2100
1  India 3,287,263 369,881,000 1,006,301,000 1,656,554,000 1,510,100,000
2  Pakistan 881,913 40,383,000 152,430,000 300,848,000 351,243,000
3  Bangladesh 147,570 45,646,000 132,151,000 201,249,000 169,355,000
4  Afghanistan 652,864 8,151,000 22,462,000 63,796,000 66,390,000
5    Nepal 147,181 8,990,000 24,819,000 45,985,000 29,318,000
6  Sri Lanka 65,610 7,534,000 19,042,000 25,167,000 15,036,000
7  Bhutan 38,394 164,000 606,000 952,000 857,000
8  Maldives 298 80,000 300,000 445,000 496,000
Total 5,221,093 480,829,000 1,358,111,000 2,294,996,000 2,142,795,000

Land and water area

This list includes dependent territories within their sovereign states (including uninhabited territories), but does not include claims on Antarctica. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA) which includes land and internal waters.

Rank Country Area EEZ Shelf EEZ+TIA
1  India 3,287,263 2,305,143 402,996 5,592,406
2  Pakistan 881,913 290,000 51,383 1,117,911
3  Bangladesh 147,570 86,392 66,438 230,390
4  Afghanistan 652,864 0 0 652,864
5    Nepal 147,181 0 0 147,181
6  Sri Lanka 65,610 532,619 32,453 598,229
7  Bhutan 38,394 0 0 38,394
8  Maldives 298 923,322 34,538 923,622
Total 5,221,093 4,137,476 587,808 9,300,997

Regional groups of countries

Name of country/region, with flag Area
(km2)
Population Population density
(per km2)
Capital or Secretariat Currency Countries included Official languages Coat of Arms
Core Definition (above) of South Asia 5,220,460 1,726,907,000 330.79 N/A N/A Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka N/A N/A
UNSD of South Asia 6,778,083 1,702,000,000 270.77 N/A N/A Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka N/A N/A
SAARC 4,637,469 1,626,000,000 350.6 Kathmandu N/A Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka English N/A
BBIN 3,499,559 1,465,236,000 418.69 N/A N/A Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal N/A N/A
SASEC 3,565,467 1,485,909,931 416.75 N/A N/A Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives N/A N/A

Demographics

The population of South Asia is about 1.749 billion which makes it the most populated region in the world.[178] It is socially very mixed, consisting of many language groups and religions, and social practices in one region that are vastly different from those in another.[179]

Largest urban areas

South Asia is home to some of the most populated cities in the world. Delhi, Karachi, Mumbai, and Dhaka are four of the world's largest megacities.

Rank City Province/State Country Population[180] Area (km2)[180] Density (/km2)[180] Classification
1 Delhi National Capital Region  India 24,998,000 2,072 12,100 Capital region
2 Karachi Sindh  Pakistan 24,300,000[181][182] 945 23,400 Metropolis
3 Mumbai Maharashtra  India 17,712,000 546 32,400 Megacity
4 Dhaka Dhaka Division  Bangladesh 15,669,000 360 43,500 City corporation
5 Kolkata West Bengal  India 14,667,000 1,204 12,200 Megacity
6 Lahore Punjab  Pakistan 12,414,000 790 12,700 Megacity
7 Bengaluru Karnataka  India 10,248,000 1,116 8,400 Megacity
8 Chennai Tamil Nadu  India 9,714,000 375 25,900 Metropolis
9 Hyderabad Telangana  India 8,754,000 971 10,000 Metropolis
10 Ahmedabad Gujarat  India 7,186,000 464 20,600 Metropolis

Languages

South Asian Language Families
Ethno-linguistic distribution map of South Asia.

There are numerous languages in South Asia. The spoken languages of the region are largely based on geography and shared across religious boundaries, but the written script is sharply divided by religious boundaries. In particular, Muslims of South Asia such as in Afghanistan and Pakistan use the Arabic alphabet and Persian Nastaliq. Till 1971, Muslim Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan) too mandated only the Nastaliq script, but thereafter has adopted regional scripts and particularly Bengali. Non-Muslims of South Asia, and some Muslims in India, on the other hand use their traditional ancient heritage scripts such as those derived from Brahmi script for Indo-European languages and non-Brahmi scripts for Dravidian languages and others.[183]

The Nagari script has been the primus inter pares of the traditional South Asian scripts.[184] The Devanagari script is used for over 120 South Asian languages,[185] including Hindi,[186] Marathi, Nepali, Pali, Konkani, Bodo, Sindhi and Maithili among other languages and dialects, making it one of the most used and adopted writing systems in the world.[187] The Devanagari script is also used for classical Sanskrit texts.[185]

The largest spoken language in this region is Hindi, followed by Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati and Punjabi.[183] In the modern era, new syncretic languages developed in the region such as Urdu that is used by Muslim community of northern south Asia (particularly Pakistan and northern states of India).[188] The Punjabi language spans three religions: Islam, Hinduism and Sikhism. The spoken language is similar, but it is written in three scripts. The Sikh use Gurmukhi alphabet, Muslim Punjabis in Pakistan use the Nastaliq script, while Hindu Punjabis in India use the Gurmukhi or Nāgarī script. The Gurmukhi and Nagari scripts are distinct but close in their structure, but the Persian Nastaliq script is very different.[189]

English, with British spelling, is commonly used in urban areas and is a major economic lingua franca of South Asia.[190]

Religions

In 2010, South Asia had the world's largest population of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs,[9] about 510 million Muslims,[9] as well as over 25 million Buddhists and 35 million Christians.[11] Hindus make up about 68 percent or about 900 million and Muslims at 31 percent or 510 million of the overall South Asia population,[191] while Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Sikhs constitute most of the rest. The Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians are concentrated in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, while the Muslims are concentrated in Afghanistan (99%), Bangladesh (90%), Pakistan (96%) and Maldives (100%).[9]

Indian religions are the religions that originated in the India; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.[192] The Indian religions are distinct yet share terminology, concepts, goals and ideas, and from South Asia spread into East Asia and southeast Asia.[192] Early Christianity and Islam were introduced into coastal regions of South Asia by merchants who settled among the local populations. Later Sindh, Balochistan, and parts of the Punjab region saw conquest by the Arab caliphates along with an influx of Muslims from Persia and Central Asia, which resulted in spread of both Shia and Sunni Islam in parts of northwestern region of South Asia. Subsequently, under the influence of Muslim rulers of the Islamic sultanates and the Mughal Empire, Islam spread in South Asia.[193][194]

Afghanistan[195] Islam (99%), Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity (1%)
Bangladesh[196] Islam (90%), Hinduism (9%), Buddhism (0.6%), Christianity (0.3%), Others (0.1%)
Bhutan[197] Buddhism (75%), Hinduism (25%)
India[197][198] Hinduism (79.8%), Islam (14.5%), Christianity (2.3%), Sikhism (1.7%), Buddhism (0.7%), Jainism (0.4%), Others (0.9%)
Maldives[199] Sunni Islam (100%) (One must be a Sunni Muslim to be a citizen on the Maldives[200][201])
Nepal[202] Hinduism (82%), Buddhism (9.0%), Islam (4.4%), Kirat (3.1%), Christianity (1.4%), Others (0.8%)
Pakistan[203] Islam (96.28%), Hinduism (2%), Christianity (1.59%), Ahmaddiyya (0.22%)
Sri Lanka[204] Buddhism (70.19%), Hinduism (12.61%), Islam (9.71%), Christianity (7.45%).

Economy

SAARC
Countries under the South Asian Free Trade Area

India is the largest and fastest growing economy in the region (US$2.957 trillion) and makes up almost 85% of the South Asian economy; it is the world's 7th largest in nominal terms and 3rd largest by purchasing power adjusted exchange rates (US$8.020 trillion).[2] India is the only member of powerful G-20 major economies and BRICS from the region. It is the fastest growing major economy in the world and one of the world's fastest registering a growth of 7.3% in FY 2014–15. Pakistan has the next largest economy($304.3 billion) and the 5th highest GDP per capita in the region,[205] followed by Bangladesh and then by Sri Lanka which has the 2nd highest per capita and is the 4th largest economy in the region. According to a World Bank report in 2015, driven by a strong expansion in India, coupled with favorable oil prices, from the last quarter of 2014 South Asia become the fastest-growing region in the world[206]

The Major Market stock exchanges in the region are Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) with market Capitalization of $2.298 trillion (11th largest in the world), National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) with market capitalization of $2.273 trillion (12th largest in the world), Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) and Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) with market capitalization of $72 billion.[207] Economic data is sourced from the International Monetary Fund, current as of April 2017, and is given in US dollars.[208]

Country
[168][168][169][170]
Currency Population
(2017)[174]
Nominal GDP
(2017)[175]
GDP per capita

(2017)[176]

GDP growth

(2017)[209]

Inflation

(2017)[210]

 Afghanistan ؋ Afghani 34,169,169 $20.57 billion $559 3% 6%
 Bangladesh Taka 164,827,718 $285.817 billion $1,754 7.28% 5.44%
 Bhutan Nu. Ngultrum 792,877 $2.31 billion $2,870 5.9% 4.1%
 India Indian Rupee 1,342,512,706 $2,450 billion $1,850 8.2% 4.8%
 Maldives ރ Rufiyaa 375,867 $3.58 billion $9,950 4.1% 2.5%
   Nepal रु Rupee 29,187,037 $24.64 billion $865 7.7% 6.7%
 Pakistan Rupee 207,774,520 $304.4 billion $1,629 5% 4.3%
 Sri Lanka රු/ரூ Rupee 20,905,335 $84.02 billion $3,930 4.5% 5.8%

Health and nutrition

Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka
Population undernourished (2015)[211] 26.8% 16.4% N/A 15.2% 5.2% 7.8% 22% 22%
Population below poverty line (CIA Factbook)[212] 35.8% 31.5% 12% 29.8% 16% 25.2% 22.3% 8.9%

According to WHO, South Asia is home to two out of the three countries in the world still affected by polio, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with 306 & 28 polio cases registered in 2014 respectively.[213] Attempts to eradicate polio have been badly hit by opposition from militants in both countries, who say the program is cover to spy on their operations. Their attacks on immunization teams have claimed 78 lives since December 2012.[214]

According to the World Bank's 2011 report, based on 2005 ICP PPP, about 24.6% of the South Asian population falls below the international poverty line of $1.25/day.[215] Afghanistan and Bangladesh rank the highest, with 30.6% and 43.3% of their respective populations below the poverty line. Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka have the lowest number of people below the poverty line, with 2.4%, 1.5% and 4.1% respectively. India has lifted the most people in the region above the poverty line between 2008 and 2011, around 140 million. As of 2011, 21.9% of India's population lives below the poverty line, compared to 41.6% in 2005.[216][217]

The World Bank estimates that India is one of the highest ranking countries in the world for the number of children suffering from malnutrition. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world, and is nearly double that of Sub Saharan Africa with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity and economic growth.[218]

According to the World Bank, 70% of the South Asian population and about 75% of South Asia's poor live in rural areas and most rely on agriculture for their livelihood[219] according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation. In 2015, approximately 281 million people in the region were malnourished. The report says that Nepal reached both the WFS target as well as MDG and is moving towards bringing down the number of undernourished people to less than 5% of the population.[211] Bangladesh reached the MDG target with the National Food Policy framework – with only 16.5% of the population undernourished. In India, the malnourished comprise just over 15 percent of the population. While the number of malnourished people in neighborhood has shown a decline over the last 25 years, the number of under-nourished in Pakistan displays an upward trend.There were 28.7 million hungry in Pakistan in the 1990s – a number that has steadily increased to 41.3 million in 2015 with 22% of the population malnourished. Approximately 194.6 million people are undernourished in India, which accounts for the highest number of people suffering from hunger in any single country.[211][220]

The 2006 report stated "the low status of women in South Asian countries and their lack of nutritional knowledge are important determinants of high prevalence of underweight children in the region". Corruption and the lack of initiative on the part of the government has been one of the major problems associated with nutrition in India. Illiteracy in villages has been found to be one of the major issues that need more government attention. The report mentioned that although there has been a reduction in malnutrition due to the Green Revolution in South Asia, there is concern that South Asia has "inadequate feeding and caring practices for young children".[221]

Governance

Country Capital Forms of government Head of state Head of government Legislature Official language Coat of arms/ National Emblems
 Afghanistan Kabul Unitary presidential Islamic republic
President
House of Elders,
House of the People
Pashto, Dari Emblem of Afghanistan
 Bangladesh Dhaka Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic President Prime Minister Jatiya Sangsad Bengali Coat of arms of Bangladesh
 Bhutan Thimphu Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy King Prime Minister National Council, National Assembly Dzongkha Emblem of Bhutan
 India New Delhi Federal parliamentary constitutional republic President Prime Minister Rajya Sabha,
Lok Sabha
Hindi, English Emblem of India
 Maldives Malé Unitary presidential constitutional republic
President
People's Majlis Dhivehi Emblem of Maldives
   Nepal Kathmandu Federal parliamentary constitutional republic President Prime Minister National Assembly,
House of Representatives
Nepali Coat of arms of Nepal
 Pakistan Islamabad Federal parliamentary Islamic republic President Prime Minister Senate,
National Assembly
Urdu, English Coat of arms of Pakistan
 Sri Lanka Colombo Unitary semi-presidential constitutional republic President Prime Minister Parliament Sinhalese, Tamil, English Coat of arms of Sri Lanka

Countries and territories from extended definitions

Country or region Capital Administrative division type Head of government Area (km2) Population Official language Coat of arms
British Indian Ocean Territory British Indian Ocean Territory Diego Garcia British Overseas Territory Commissioner 54,400 2,500 English Coat of arms of the British Indian Ocean Territory (Shield).svg
 Myanmar Naypyidaw Unitary parliamentary constitutional republic State Counsellor 676,578 51,486,253 Burmese State seal of Myanmar.svg
China Tibet Autonomous Region Lhasa Autonomous Region of China Chairman 1,228,400 3,180,000 Tibetan, Mandarin National Emblem of the People's Republic of China.svg

India[222][223][224] and Pakistan[225][226] are the dominant political powers in the region. India is by far the largest country in the area covering around three-fourths the land area of the South Asian region. India has the largest population of around three times the combined population of the 6 other countries in the region.[227] India is also the world's largest democracy[228] India's annual defence budget for 2013–14 is $39.2 billion[229] which is equal to the whole Pakistan's Federal budget of $39.3 billion for 2014–15.[230]

Bangladesh is a unitary state and parliamentary democracy.[231] Bangladesh also stands out as one of the few Muslim-majority democracies. "It is a moderate and generally secular and tolerant — though sometimes this is getting stretched at the moment — alternative to violent extremism in a very troubled part of the world", said Dan Mozena, the U.S. ambassador to Bangladesh. Although Bangladesh's legal code is secular, more citizens are embracing a conservative version of Islam, with some pushing for sharia law, analysts say. Experts say that the rise in conservatism reflects the influence of foreign-financed Islamic charities and the more austere version of Islam brought home by migrant workers in Persian Gulf countries.[232]

Diplomacy among the countries of South Asia has been mainly driven by populist politics, with the centre-stage taken by India-Pakistan conflict ever since their independence in 1947, and then the creation of Bangladesh under tense circumstances in 1971. During the height of Cold war, the elite political leaders of Pakistan aligned with the US, while India played crucial role in forming the Non-Aligned Movement and while maintaining goodwill relations with the USSR.

Pakistan's governance is one of the most conflicted in the region. The military rule and the unstable government in Pakistan has become a concern for the South Asian region. In Nepal, the governance has struggled to come in the side of democracy and it only showed signs in the recent past, basically in the 21st century, to support the democratic system. The political situation in Sri Lanka has been dominated by an increasingly assertive Sinhalese nationalism, and the emergence of a Tamil separatist movement under LTTE, which was suppressed in May 2009. Myanmar's politics is dominated by a military Junta, which has sidelined the democratic forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi.

Governance and education index rankings of South Asian countries
Afghanistan Bangladesh Bhutan India Maldives Nepal Pakistan Sri Lanka
Inequality-adjusted HDI (2016)[233] (global ranking of 187) 166 141 135 127 114 142 149 65
Corruption Perception Index (2016)[234] (global ranking of 168) 169 145 27 79 95 131 116 95
The Worldwide

Governance Indicators (2015)[235]

Government Effectiveness 8% 24% 68% 56% 41% 13% 27% 53%
Political stability and absence

of violence/terrorism

1% 11% 89% 17% 61% 16% 1% 47%
Rule of law 2% 27% 70% 56% 35% 27% 24% 60%
Voice and accountability 16% 31% 46% 61% 30% 33% 27% 36%
Population below poverty line (2011)[236] 35.8% 31.5% 23.7% 21.9% 16% 25.2% 21.4% 8.9%
Primary School Enrollment[237] 29% 90% 85% 92% 94% 96% 73% 98%
Secondary School Enrollment[238] 49% 54% 78% 68% N/A 72% 38% 96%

See also

Notes

  1. ^ According to the UN cartographic section website disclaimers, "DESIGNATIONS USED: The depiction and use of boundaries, geographic names and related data shown on maps and included in lists, tables, documents, and databases on this web site are not warranted to be error free nor do they necessarily imply official endorsement or acceptance by the United Nations."[12]
  2. ^ Doniger 2010, p. 66: "Much of what we now call Hinduism may have had roots in cultures that thrived in South Asia long before the creation of textual evidence that we can decipher with any confidence. Remarkable cave paintings have been preserved from Mesolithic sites dating from c. 30,000 BCE in Bhimbetka, near present-day Bhopal, in the Vindhya Mountains in the province of Madhya Pradesh."
  3. ^ Jones & Ryan 2006, p. xvii: "Some practices of Hinduism must have originated in Neolithic times (c. 4000 BCE). The worship of certain plants and animals as sacred, for instance, could very likely have very great antiquity. The worship of goddesses, too, a part of Hinduism today, may be a feature that originated in the Neolithic."
  4. ^ Michaels: "They called themselves arya ("Aryans," literally "the hospitable," from the Vedic arya, "homey, the hospitable") but even in the Rgveda, arya denotes a cultural and linguistic boundary and not only a racial one."[87]

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Sources

External links

2005 Kashmir earthquake

The 2005 Kashmir earthquake occurred at 08:50:39 Pakistan Standard Time on 8 October in Pakistan-administered areas of Kashmir. It was centered near the city of Muzaffarabad, and also affected Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province and Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. It registered a moment magnitude of 7.6 and had a maximum Mercalli intensity of VIII (Severe). The earthquake also affected countries in the surrounding region where tremors were felt in Afghanistan, Tajikistan and Chinese Xinjiang. The severity of the damage caused by the earthquake is attributed to severe upthrust. It is considered the deadliest earthquake to hit South Asia since the 1935 Quetta earthquake.

HBO (Asia)

HBO Asia is the Southeast Asian division of HBO. It was originally launched in 1 May 1992 as MovieVision, later rebranded in 1 April 1995 to its current name after being purchased by Home Box Office Inc. The Singapore-based broadcast network offers a bouquet of channels and services with no advertisements– HBO, HBO Signature, HBO Family, HBO Hits, Cinemax and Red – as well as HBO Go and HBO on Demand. HBO Asia is also the exclusive distributor of BabyFirst in Asia.

Hijra (Indian subcontinent)

Hijra is a term given to eunuchs, intersex people, and transgender people who are part of the Hijra community in the Indian subcontinent. Also known as Aravani, Aruvani, Jagappa, or Chhakka, the hijra community in India prefer to call themselves Kinnar or Kinner, referring to the mythological beings that excel at song and dance.

Hijras are officially recognized as third gender in countries in the Indian subcontinent, being considered neither completely male nor female. Hijras have a recorded history in the Indian subcontinent from antiquity onwards as suggested by the Kama Sutra period.

Many hijras live in well-defined and organised all-hijra communities, led by a guru. These communities have consisted over generations of those who are in abject poverty, rejected by, or flee, their family of origin. Many work as sex workers for survival.The word "hijra" is a Hindustani word. It has traditionally been translated into English as "eunuch" or "hermaphrodite", where "the irregularity of the male genitalia is central to the definition." However, in general hijras are born male, only a few having been born with intersex variations. Some Hijras undergo an initiation rite into the hijra community called nirwaan, which refers to the removal of the penis, scrotum and testicles.Since the late 20th century, some hijra activists and non-government organizations (NGOs) have lobbied for official recognition of the hijra as a kind of "third sex" or "third gender", as neither man nor woman. Hijras have successfully gained this recognition in Bangladesh and are eligible for priority in education. In India, the Supreme Court in April 2014 recognized hijras, transgenders, eunuchs, and intersex people as a 'third gender' in law. Nepal, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh have all legally accepted the existence of a third gender, with India and Nepal including an option for them on passports and certain official documents.

Indian subcontinent

The Indian subcontinent is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago. Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. Politically, the Indian subcontinent includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.Sometimes, the geographical term 'Indian subcontinent' is used interchangeably with 'South Asia', although that last term is used typically as a political term and is also used to include Afghanistan. Which countries should be included in either of these remains the subject of debate.

Indus Valley Civilisation

The Indus Valley Civilisation (IVC) was a Bronze Age civilisation in the northwestern regions of South Asia, lasting from 3300 BCE to 1300 BCE, and in mature form from 2600 BCE to 1900 BCE. Along with ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia it was one of three early civilisations of the Old World, and of the three, the most widespread, extending from what today is northeast Afghanistan to Pakistan and northwest India. It flourished in the basins of the Indus River, which flows through the length of Pakistan, and along a system of perennial, mostly monsoon-fed, rivers that once coursed in the vicinity of the seasonal Ghaggar-Hakra river in northwest India and eastern Pakistan. Aridification of this region during the 3rd millennium BCE may have been the initial spur for the urbanisation associated with the civilisation, but eventually also reduced the water supply enough to cause the civilisation's demise, and to scatter its population eastward.The civilisation's cities were noted for their urban planning, baked brick houses, elaborate drainage systems, water supply systems, clusters of large non-residential buildings, and new techniques in handicraft (carnelian products, seal carving) and metallurgy (copper, bronze, lead, and tin). Its large urban centres of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa very likely grew to containing between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals, and the civilisation itself during its florescence may have contained between one and five million individuals.The Indus civilisation is also known as the Harappan Civilisation, after its type site, Harappa, the first of its sites to be excavated in the 1920s in what was then the Punjab province of British India and now is Pakistan. The discovery of Harappa and soon afterwards Mohenjo-Daro was the culmination of work beginning in 1861 with the founding of the Archaeological Survey of India during the British Raj. There were however also earlier and later cultures often called Early Harappan and Late Harappan in the same area; for this reason, the Harappan civilisation is sometimes called the Mature Harappan' culture to distinguish it from these cultures. By 2002, over 1,000 Mature Harappan cities and settlements had been reported, of which just under a hundred had been excavated, mainly in the general region of the Indus and Ghaggar-Hakra Rivers and their tributaries; however, there are only five major urban sites at the peak of the settlement hierarchy: Harappa, Mohenjo-daro (UNESCO World Heritage Site), Dholavira, Ganeriwala in Cholistan and Rakhigarhi. The early Harappan cultures were preceded by local Neolithic agricultural villages, from which the river plains were populated.The Harappan language is not directly attested, and its affiliation is uncertain since the Indus script is still undeciphered. A relationship with the Dravidian or Elamo-Dravidian language family is favoured by a section of scholars.

Iron Age

The Iron Age is the final epoch of the three-age system, preceded by the Stone Age (Neolithic) and the Bronze Age. It is an archaeological era in the prehistory and protohistory of Europe and the Ancient Near East, and by analogy also used of other parts of the Old World.

The three-age system was introduced in the first half of the 19th century for the archaeology of Europe in particular, and by the later 19th century expanded to the archaeology of the Ancient Near East. Its name harks back to the mythological "Ages of Man" of Hesiod. As an archaeological era it was first introduced for Scandinavia by Christian Jürgensen Thomsen in the 1830s. By the 1860s, it was embraced as a useful division of the "earliest history of mankind" in general and began to be applied in Assyriology. The development of the now-conventional periodization in the archaeology of the Ancient Near East was developed in the 1920s to 1930s.

As its name suggests, Iron Age technology is characterized by the production of tools and weaponry by ferrous metallurgy (ironworking), more specifically from carbon steel.

The duration of the Iron Age varies depending on the region under consideration. It is defined by archaeological convention, and the mere presence of some cast or wrought iron is not sufficient to represent an Iron Age culture; rather, the "Iron Age" begins locally when the production of iron or steel has been brought to the point where iron tools and weapons superior to their bronze equivalents become widespread. For example, Tutankhamun's meteoric iron dagger comes from the Bronze Age. In the Ancient Near East, this transition takes place in the wake of the so-called Bronze Age collapse, in the 12th century BC. The technology soon spreads throughout the Mediterranean region and to South Asia.

Its further spread to Central Asia, Eastern and Central Europe is somewhat delayed, and Northern Europe is reached still later, by about 500 BC.

The Iron Age is taken to end, also by convention, with the beginning of the historiographical record.

This usually does not represent a clear break in the archaeological record; for the Ancient Near East the establishment of the Achaemenid Empire c. 550 BC (considered historical by virtue of the record by Herodotus) is usually taken as a cut-off date, and in Central and Western Europe the Roman conquests of the 1st century BC serve as marking for the end of the Iron Age. The Germanic Iron Age of Scandinavia is taken to end c. AD 800, with the beginning of the Viking Age.

In South Asia, the Iron Age is taken to begin with the ironworking Painted Gray Ware culture and to end with the reign of Ashoka (3rd century BC). The use of the term "Iron Age" in the archaeology of South, East and Southeast Asia is more recent, and less common, than for western Eurasia; at least in China prehistory had ended before iron-working arrived, so the term is infrequently used. The Sahel (Sudan region) and Sub-Saharan Africa are outside of the three-age system, there being no Bronze Age, but the term "Iron Age" is sometimes used in reference to early cultures practicing ironworking such as the Nok culture of Nigeria.

Kamboj

The Kamboj (Urdu: کمبوہ‬‎ ALA-LC: Kamboh, Punjabi: ਕੰਬੋ Kamboj), also Kamboh, is a community mainly in the Northern India and eastern Pakistan.

Maurya Empire

The Maurya Empire was a geographically-extensive Iron Age historical power based in Magadha and founded by Chandragupta Maurya which dominated ancient India between 322 and 187 BCE. Comprising the majority of South Asia, the Maurya Empire was centralized by conquering the Indo-Gangetic Plain in the eastern extent of the empire and had its capital city at Pataliputra (modern Patna). The empire was the largest to have ever existed in the Indian subcontinent, spanning over 5 million square kilometres (1.9 million square miles) at its zenith under Ashoka.

Chandragupta Maurya raised an army, with the assistance of Chanakya (also known as Kauṭilya), and overthrew the Nanda Empire in c. 322 BCE. Chandragupta rapidly expanded his power westwards across central and western India by conquering the satraps left by Alexander the Great, and by 317 BCE the empire had fully occupied Northwestern India. The Mauryan Empire then defeated Seleucus I, a diadochus and founder of the Seleucid Empire, during the Seleucid–Mauryan war, thus gained additional territory west of the Indus River.The Maurya Empire was one of the largest empires in Indian history. At its greatest extent, stretched to the north along the natural boundaries of the Himalayas, to the east into Assam, to the west into Balochistan (southwest Pakistan and southeast Iran) and the Hindu Kush mountains of what is now Afghanistan. The Empire was expanded into India's central with boundary into southern regions by the emperors Chandragupta and Bindusara, but it excluded Kalinga (modern Odisha), until it was conquered by Ashoka. It declined for about 50 years after Ashoka's rule ended, and it dissolved in 185 BCE with the foundation of the Shunga dynasty in Magadha.

Under Chandragupta Maurya and his successors, internal and external trade, agriculture, and economic activities all thrived and expanded across India thanks to the creation of a single and efficient system of finance, administration, and security. The Mauryans built the Grand Trunk Road, one of Asia's oldest and longest major roads connecting the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia. After the Kalinga War, the Empire experienced nearly half a century of peace and security under Ashoka. Mauryan India also enjoyed an era of social harmony, religious transformation, and expansion of the sciences and of knowledge. Chandragupta Maurya's embrace of Jainism increased social and religious renewal and reform across his society, while Ashoka's embrace of Buddhism has been said to have been the foundation of the reign of social and political peace and non-violence across all of India. Ashoka sponsored the spreading of Buddhist missionaries into Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia, West Asia, North Africa, and Mediterranean Europe.The population of the empire has been estimated to be about 50–60 million, making the Mauryan Empire one of the most populous empires of Antiquity. Archaeologically, the period of Mauryan rule in South Asia falls into the era of Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW). The Arthashastra and the Edicts of Ashoka are the primary sources of written records of Mauryan times. The Lion Capital of Ashoka at Sarnath has been made the national emblem of India.

Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent

Muslim conquests in the Indian subcontinent mainly took place from the 12th to the 16th centuries, though earlier Muslim conquests made limited inroads into modern Afghanistan and Pakistan as early as the time of the Rajput kingdoms in the 8th century. With the establishment of the Delhi Sultanate, Islam spread across large parts of the subcontinent. In 1204, Bakhtiyar Khalji led the Muslim conquest of Bengal, marking the eastern-most expansion of Islam at the time.

Prior to the rise of the Maratha Empire, which was followed by the conquest of India by the British East India Company, the Muslim Mughal Empire was able to annex or subjugate most of India's kings. However, it was never able to conquer the kingdoms in the upper reaches of the Himalayas, such as those of modern Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Nepal and Bhutan; the kingdoms of the extreme south of India, such as Travancore and Tamil Nadu; or the kingdoms in the east, such as the Ahom Kingdom in Assam.

Muslim nationalism in South Asia

Islamic nationalism also known as Muslim nationalism in South Asia is the political and cultural expression of nationalism, founded upon the religious tenets and identity of Islam, of the Muslims of South Asia.

From a historical perspective, Professor Ishtiaq Ahmed of the University of Stockholm and Professor Shamsul Islam of the University of Delhi classified the Muslims of South Asia into two categories during the era of the Indian independence movement: nationalist Muslims (individuals who opposed the partition of India) and Muslim nationalists (individuals who desired to create a separate country for Indian Muslims). The All India Azad Muslim Conference represented nationalist Muslims, while the All-India Muslim League represented the Muslim nationalists.

South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. SAARC comprises 3% of the world's area, 21% of the world's population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy, as of 2015.

SAARC was founded in Dhaka on 8 December 1985. Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration. It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006. SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union.

South Asian Stone Age

The South Asian Stone Age covers the Palaeolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods in South Asia. Evidence for the most ancient anatomically modern Homo sapiens in South Asia has been found in the cave sites of Cudappah of India, Batadombalena and Belilena in Sri Lanka. In Mehrgarh, in what is today western Pakistan, the Neolithic began c. 7000 BCE and lasted until 3300 BCE and the first beginnings of the Bronze Age. In South India, the Mesolithic lasted until 3000 BCE, and the Neolithic until 1400 BCE, followed by a Megalithic transitional period mostly skipping the Bronze Age. The Iron Age began roughly simultaneously in North and South India, around c. 1200 to 1000 BCE (Painted Grey Ware culture, Hallur).

South Asian ethnic groups

The ethno-linguistic composition of the population of South Asia, that is the nations of India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka is highly diverse. The majority of the population fall within two large linguistic groups, Indo-Aryan and Dravidian. Indian society is traditionally divided into castes or clans, not ethnicities, and these categories have had no official status since independence in 1947, except for the scheduled castes and tribes which remain registered for the purpose of affirmative action. In today's India, the population is categorized in terms of the 1,652 mother tongues spoken.

These groups are further subdivided into numerous sub-groups, castes, and tribes. Indo-Aryans form the predominant ethno-linguistic group in Indo-Gangetic Plain (North India, East India, West India, Central India), Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. Dravidians form the predominant ethno-linguistic group in southern India and the northern and eastern regions of Sri Lanka, and a small pocket in Pakistan. Certain Iranian speaking peoples also have a significant presence in South Asia, the large majority of whom are located in Pakistan, with heavy concentrations in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. Dardic peoples form a minority among the Indo-Aryans. They are classified as belonging to the Indo-Aryan language group, though sometimes they are also classified as external to the Indo-Aryan branch. They are found in northern Pakistan (Northern Areas and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) and in Jammu and Kashmir, India.

Minority groups not falling within either large group mostly speak languages belonging to the Austroasiatic and Tibeto-Burman language families, and mostly live around Ladakh and Northeast India, Nepal, Bhutan and the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh. The Andamanese (Sentinel, Onge, Jarawa, Great Andamanese) live on some of the Andaman Islands and speak a language isolate, as do the Kusunda in central Nepal, the Vedda in Sri Lanka, and the Nihali of central India, who number about 5000 people. The people of the Hunza valley in Pakistan are another distinct population. They speak Burushaski, a language isolate.

The traditions of different ethnic groups in South Asia have diverged, influenced by external cultures, especially in the northwestern parts of South Asia and in the border regions and busy ports, where there are greater levels of contact with external cultures. This is particularly true for many ethnic groups in the northeastern parts of South Asia who are ethnically related to peoples of the Far East. The largest ethno-linguistic group in South Asia are the Indo-Aryans, numbering around 1 billion, and the largest sub-group are the native speakers of Hindi languages, numbering more than 470 million.

These groups are based solely on a linguistic basis and not on a genetic basis.

Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia or Southeastern Asia is a subregion of Asia, consisting of the countries that are geographically south of Japan, Korea and China, east of India, west of Papua New Guinea, and north of Australia. Southeast Asia is bordered to the north by East Asia, to the west by South Asia and the Bay of Bengal, to the east by Oceania and the Pacific Ocean, and to the south by Australia and the Indian Ocean. The region is the only part of Asia that lies partly within the Southern Hemisphere, although the majority of it is in the Northern Hemisphere. In contemporary definition, Southeast Asia consists of two geographic regions:

Mainland Southeast Asia, also known historically as Indochina, comprising parts of Eastern India (India stretches from South Asia to Southeast Asia), Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, and West Malaysia.

Maritime Southeast Asia, also known historically as Nusantara, the East Indies and Malay Archipelago, comprises the Andaman and Nicobar Islands of India, Indonesia, East Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, East Timor, Brunei, Christmas Island, and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Taiwan is also included in this grouping by many anthropologists.The region lies near the intersection of geological plates, with both heavy seismic and volcanic activities. The Sunda Plate is the main plate of the region, featuring almost all Southeast Asian countries except Myanmar, northern Thailand, northern Vietnam, and northern Luzon of the Philippines. The mountain ranges in Myanmar, Thailand, and peninsular Malaysia are part of the Alpide belt, while the islands of the Philippines are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. Both seismic belts meet in Indonesia, causing the region to have relatively high occurrences of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.Southeast Asia covers about 4.5 million km2 (1.7 million mi2), which is 10.5% of Asia or 3% of earth's total land area. Its total population is more than 641 million, about 8.5% of the world's population. It is the third most populous geographical region in the world after South Asia and East Asia. The region is culturally and ethnically diverse, with hundreds of languages spoken by different ethnic groups. Ten countries in the region are members of ASEAN, a regional organization established for economic, political, military, educational and cultural integration amongst its members.

Tehsil

A tehsil (also known as a taluk, taluq taluka or mandal) is an administrative division in some countries of South Asia. It is an area of land with a city or town that serves as its administrative centre, with possible additional towns, and usually a number of villages. The terms in India have replaced earlier geographical terms, such as pargana, pergunnah and thannah, used under Delhi Sultanate and the British Raj.

As an entity of local government, the tehsil office (panchayat samiti) exercises certain fiscal and administrative power over the villages and municipalities within its jurisdiction. It is the ultimate executive agency for land records and related administrative matters. The chief official is called the tahsildar or, less officially, the talukdar or taluka muktiarkar or tehsildar. Taluk or tehsil can be considered sub-districts in the Indian context. In some instances, tehsils overlap with "blocks" (panchayat union blocks or panchayat development blocks) and come under the land and revenue department, headed by tehsildar; and blocks come under the rural development department, headed by the block development officer and serve different government administrative functions over the same or similar geographical area.Although they may on occasion share the same area with a subdivision of a revenue divisions, known as revenue blocks, the two are distinct. For example, Raipur district in Chhattisgarh state is administratively divided into 13 tehsils and 15 revenue blocks. Nevertheless, the two are often conflated.

Tehsil/tahsil and taluka and their variants are used as English words without further translation. Since these terms are unfamiliar to English speakers outside the subcontinent, the word county has sometimes been provided as a gloss, on the basis that a tehsil, like a county, is an administrative unit hierarchically above the local city, town, or village, but subordinate to a larger state or province. India and Pakistan have an intermediate level of hierarchy (or more than one, at least in parts of India): the district, also sometimes translated as county. In neither case is the analogy very exact.

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