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Indian Sub-Continent

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Indian Sub-Continent

This article is about the region in Asia. For additional treatments, see South Asia.
Template:Infobox Continent

The Indian subcontinent is a southerly region of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southward into the Indian Ocean. Definitions of the extent of the Indian subcontinent differ but it usually includes the core lands of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.[1]

Definition and nomenclature

Main article: South Asia
Further information: Greater India, Classical India and Partition of India

The geographical definition of the Indian subcontinent varies. Historically forming the whole territory of Greater India, now it generally comprises the countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh;[1] prior to 1947, the three nations were historically combined and constituted British India. It almost always also includes Nepal, Bhutan and the island country of Sri Lanka,[2][3] and may also include Afghanistan and the island country of Maldives.[4][5][6] 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.[7] A booklet published by the United States Department of State in 1959 includes Afghanistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Nepal, and Pakistan (including East Pakistan, now Bangladesh) as part of the "Subcontinent of South Asia".[8] When the term Indian subcontinent is used to mean South Asia, the island countries of Sri Lanka and the Maldives may sometimes not be included,[4] while Tibet and Nepal may be included[9] or excluded[10] intermittently, depending on the context.

As there is a lack or no coherent definition for Indian subcontinent or South Asia (see the article South Asia for multiple definitions), the terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are used interchangeably by some due to political reasons.[4][11][12][13][14] In Religions of South Asia, Sushil Mittal and Gene R. Thursby state that the Indian subcontinent and South Asia refer to the same area.[15] Due to political sensitivities, some prefer to use the terms "South Asian subcontinent",[16][16][17] the "Indo-Pak-Bangladesh subcontinent",[18] the "Indo-Pak subcontinent",[19] "the subcontinent", or simply "South Asia"[20] over the term "Indian subcontinent". Historians Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal hold the view that the Indian subcontinent has come to be known as South Asia "in more recent and neutral parlance."[20] though their view is not acceptable to many. Indologist Ronald B. Inden argues that the usage of the term "South Asia" is getting more widespread since it clearly distinguishes the region from East Asia.[21] Some academics hold that the term "South Asia" is in more common use in Europe and North America, rather than the terms "subcontinent" or the "Indian subcontinent".[22][23]

According to political science professor Tatu Vanhanen, "The seven countries of South Asia constitute geographically a compact region around the Indian Subcontinent";[24] while according to anthropologist John R. Lukacs, "The Indian Subcontinent occupies the major landmass of South Asia."[25] According to Chris Brewster, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan constitute the Indian subcontinent; with Afghanistan, Iran and Maldives included it is more commonly referred to as South Asia.[26] While using both terms to mean the same region in Religion and Conflict in Modern South Asia Dr. William Gould of University of Leeds explains that "South Asia" is a geopolitical as well as a geographical term.[27]


Geographically, the Indian subcontinent is a 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,[28] and extending southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast.[1][4] Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by mountain barriers.[29][30] 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 Kuen Lun and Karakoram ranges,[31][32][33] and extending up to but not including Ladakh, Kohistan, the Hindu Kush range and Balochistan.[34][35][36]

Using a more expansive definition – counting India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries – the Indian subcontinent covers about 4.4 million km² (1.7 million mi²), which is 10% of the Asian continent or 3.3% of the world's land surface area.[37][38] Overall, it accounts for about 45% of Asia's population (or over 25% of the world's population) and is home to a vast array of peoples.[37][39][38]

See also

  • List of tallest buildings and structures in South Asia


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