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Population - Local time - Languages - Religion - Political context - Climate - Tourism - Food


Total population (millions): 1,079.7
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Urban population: 29%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Average annual population growth: 1.4%
Source : World Bank - World Development Indicators

Surface area (km²) : 3,287,260

Population origin

Origin of the population% Of the population
Indo-aryans72 %
Dravidians25 %
Other3 %

Main Cities Population
Mumbai 16 434 386
Calcutta 13 211 853
Delhi 12 877 470
Chennai 6 560 242
Hyderabad 5 742 036
Bangalore 5 701 456

Local time

It is  %T:%M %A  in New Delhi (GMT+5:30 ).

Official languages: Hindi and English.
English is used for all commercial transactions and governmental relations.
India also counts no less than 16 other languages and 1,600 minor languages and dialects. The Constitution officially recognizes 18 of them. The Hindi is predominant in the North, the Tamoul is predominant in the South. But the Assami, Bengali, Gujurati, Kannada, Cachemiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Oriya, Penjabi, Sanskrit, Telougou and the Ourdou are also currently spoken. English, very widely spoken, enables the communication between Indian of different languages.

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Religious practises : Hindus 79.8%
Muslims 13.7%
Christians 2.5%
Sikhs 2.1%
Buddhists 0.8%
Jaïnistes 0.5%
Others 0.6%

Political context

India is a federal Republic state based on parliamentary democracy. India (official name: The Republic of India) is the largest liberal democracy in the world.
President is the chief of the state and is elected by an electoral college consisting of elected members of both houses of Parliament and the legislatures of the provinces (called states) for a five-year term. Prime Minister is the head of the government and is chosen by parliamentary members of the majority party following legislative elections, to serve a term of five years. Prime Minister has the executive powers. Cabinet is appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Prime Minister.
The legislature is bicameral. The Parliament consists of: Council of States (the upper house) with consisting of not more than 250 members (out of which up to 12 are appointed by the President and the remaining members are chosen by the elected members of the state and territorial assemblies; members serve six-year terms) and the People's Assembly (the lower house) consisting of 545 seats (out of which 543 elected by popular vote and 2 appointed by the President; members serve five-year terms). The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. Only President can dissolve the parliament on recommendation of the Prime Minister, but final decision lies with the President. People of India enjoy considerable political rights.
Judiciary is largely independent in India. However, the courts are severely backlogged and understaffed which results in the detention of a large number of persons who are awaiting trial. The main source of the law is the constitution of 1950 which has been amended many times. The legal system in the country is based on English common law and limited judicial review of various legislative acts. The country has separate personal law codes for Muslims, Christians, and Hindus. India accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations. Hindi is the main judicial language used in the country, though there are 14 other regional official languages. English language is widespread in business circles.
India is ruled by law. Fair trial to foreign nationals from the country’s judicial system cannot be always guaranteed. A high degree of corruption exists in the country, touching politics, government & public sector.

Major political parties

India has a multi-party system with predominance of small regional parties. If a party is recognised in four or more states, it is automatically recognised as a national party by the Election Commission of India. The major political parties in the country are:
- INC (Indian National Congress) – a major political party involved in India's independence movement, advocates social-democratic & populist ideology,
- BJP (Bharatiya Janta Party) – advocates socio-religious, pro-Hindu, nationalist ideology,
- CPI(M) (Communist Party of India(Marxist)) – advocates Marxism-Leninism,
- BSP (Bahujan Samajwadi Party) – draws support from backward classes & religious minorities.

Major political leaders

President: A.P.J. Abdul KALAM (since July 2002) – non-partisan
Prime Minister: Manmohan SINGH (since May 2004) – INC, heading a coalition government with CPI(M) & other parties

Next political election dates

Presidential: July 2007
Parliamentary: May 2009




Considering the size of the country, the climate can widely vary, from the dry deserts of Rajasthan to the wet summits of Assam and the snowy collars of Ladakh. To summarise, India benefits from three seasons: a warm, a wet and a cool one. Heat begins to rise in the plains of the North in February and becomes unbearable in April - May. The first signs of the monsoon appear towards the end of May, bringing a high level of humidity, and short and violent thunderstorms. The monsoon settles down at the beginning of June in the South, then head to the North, then cover the whole country in the first days of July, but never bringing any coolness though. It ends up in October and the North then becomes cooler, and there are even some cold nights in December - January. The extreme South remains warm all year long, but temperatures remain very bearable. The most important monsoon comes from the Southwest; the Southeast coast gets affected by the monsoon of Northeast, short and very wet, from the middle of October until the end of December.



Number of visitors in India 2004 2005 2006 World rank
Number of visitors (1000) 3,371 3,919 4,447
Source : World Tourisme Organization, data available in November 2005


Tourist sites
Delhi: Capital of India and third city of the country. It is split into two parts. The first one, the Old Delhi, retains the testimony of the Muslim time. The second, New Delhi, the English city, spacious and airy city, is the administrative centre. The Paharganj's district, very active, is overflown with workshops, hotels and cheap restaurants. New Delhi extends around the famous Connaught place. From there, Janpath begins. Janparth is an avenue lined with stores, emporium of various States and where the luxurious Imperial Hotel stands. In the Eastern part of Rajpath, there is the India Gate Memorial. Delhi is one of the main points of access of the subcontinent and the communications hub in the North of India. It is also close to Agra and to the Taj Mahal (a 2 hours train journey) and at 5 hours bus journey of Jaipur, door of Rajasthan. Please also note that Delhi is considered as the most polluted city in the world after Mexico City.

Agra: in the Moghols times, Agra, in the southwest of the Uttar Pradesh's state and at 204 km away from the South of Delhi, was the capital of India and most of the buildings, including the Taj Mahal and the fort of Agra, date from this period. The Taj Mahal, the most fabulous mausoleum ever built by love (the emperor Shah Jahan had it built for his second wife, who died while giving birth), became the tourist symbol of India. At 40 km West of Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, a fortified ghost-city built by the emperor Akbar in the XVI th century, and is definitely worth seing.

Varanasi (formerly Bénarès): the holiest of the holy cities extends from the West bank of the Ganges, on the East of the Uttar Pradesh's state (577 km East of Agra). Highly respected for its pilgrimage, it is also a centre of education for civilisations. The Indian pilgrims come to bath in the waters of the Ganges, supposed to wash all the sins. To die there interrupts the cycle of reincarnations. More than 100 ghats (stairs or landings by the river) can be used to bath and cremate. The most sacred is the Manikarnika Ghat; you will be able to attend cremations, but leave your cameras in your hotel. Go sit down in Dasawamedh Ghat to observe ablutions, sadhu, yogi and intense life animating the city.

Udaipur: the most romantic city of Rajasthan, Udaipur, has been founded in 1568 with the maharana Udai Singh II. Except from the Lake Palace, one of the last jewels of the rajpoute fine arts, the city abounds in palaces, temples and haveli, from the most modest to the most extravagant ones. Famous to be the centre of theater, dance, painting and art craft activities, Udaipur can be proud of its cultural inheritance. The lake Pichola, in the heart of the city, contains two palace-islands, Jagniwas and Jagmandir, the first one having been turned into a luxury hotel. The Gigantic City Palace, by the lake, is the biggest palatine complex of Rajasthan. Jagdish's beautiful indo-Aryan temple dates from the middle of the XVII-th century. Udaipur is located at 663 km away from Delhi.

Mumbai (Bombay): capital of Maharashtra, it is an extremely lively city , filled up with determination and dreams. It is also the financial centre of the nation and the industrial (textile industry and petrochemistry) and commercial (50 % of international exchanges transit there) capital. It also attracts the down-and-outs of the rural world, who go alongside with businessmen's new generations.

Goa: Former Portuguese enclave on the Western coast, Goa gained its tourist reputation in the 60s, at the height of the hippy period. But Goa has much more to offer than the magnificent beaches with coconut palm. Although it has been released for more than 30 years from the Lusitanian custody, the catholic religion remains very present; the population shows a quite tropical nonchalance. Furthermore, Goa's educational standards are among the highest of the country.
We also suggest you to buy road or city maps of the places you would

For more information about tourism in India , check out the following web site(s) :
Indian Ministry of Tourism


Traditional dishes
Contrary to popular belief, all Indians are not vegetarians. The strict vegetarianism is limited to the South, the State of Gujarat and to certain holy cities. The Muslim restaurants serve buffalo. Culinary differences between the North and the South are considerable because of the climate and the historical influences. In the North, meat, bread and cereals are more widespread, as well as the mughlai food, similarly to the Middle East and Central Asia, where spices play a more important role than hot pepper. In the South, rice is served with vegetarian dishes, for the major part (even extremely) very hot. The dhal, sort of lentils soup, is omnipresent, either in accompaniment, or as base of meals. The thali is the "easy" dish. Originally from South India, it is served throughout the country. It is made of curried vegetables, spices, 2 or 3 sorts of bread (chapati or puri), some papadam (wafers of lentils flour ), a mug of raïta (yoghourt with vegetables slivers) and a dessert, and served with a mountain of rice. You will be able to enjoy meat or fish curries and the delicious tandoori (sweeter than curries). In the South, the masala dosa, lentils flour pancakes, stuffed with vegetables, is a delicious snack. The lassi, the sweet or salty beaten yoghourt, will soothe the burning of the spicy food.

Food-related taboos
There are numerous in the country: the cow is a sacred animal, and therefore it is prohibited to deal with it in any way. It is also recommended not to eat with your left hand, rather use your fingers! For more information, there are numerous tourist websites consecratred to India.

Last modified on December 2006

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