India geography

With a total land area of 3.3 million square kilometers, 2,933 kms wide and 3,214 kms long, the Indian sub-continent is set apart from the rest of Asia by the Himalayas to the north. Going south, one comes down into the Indo-Gangetic plain, and then crosses over the Vindhyachal mountains to enter the Deccan Peninsula, bounded by the Bay of Bengal to the south-east and the Arabian sea to the south-west, with the southern-most tip projecting into the Indian Ocean.

The Deccan plateau is the oldest portion of India, geologically speaking, and is believed to have been part of a super-continent together with South America, Africa, Australia and Antarctica. As the continents drifted apart, the moving Deccan plate collided with the Tibetan block of South Asia about 50 million years ago and pushed the Himalayas up out of the sea and against the rest of Asia. Over the years, the persistent pressure of the Deccan drifting northwards continued to push the Himalayan mountains upwards, a process which geologists say is still continuing, causing earthquakes and tremors in the Himalayan ranges as the accumulated stress is released.

As the Himalayas rose, they were also steadily being eroded, which process brought into being the three great rivers of Northern India - the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra. The alluvial soil brought down by these rivers filled up the vast depression between the Deccan plateau and the Himalayas and created what is the Indo-Gangetic plain today. Other rivers at work in India, transforming the land, include the Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, Kaveri and the Pennar which created the deltas and flood-plains of India's east coast, and the Narmada, Tapti, Sharavati, Netravati, Bharatapuzha, Periyar and the Pamba which did the same for the west coast.

Every geographical feature is present in India, from mountains to plains, deserts to seas, and so is a wide variety of flora, fauna and climate, from the tropical to the arctic. India's geographical diversity is mirrored by the diversity of the Indian people, who reflect a myriad of racial characteristics, social patterns, cultures and stages of historical development, from the tribal to the urban, the feudal to the modern.

INDIA States and Union Territories

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