Where is India?
India is located in south Asia. The capital is New Delhi, and the language most people speak is Hindi. A person who is from India is Indian.
India is the seventh largest country in the world, and it has the second highest population after China.
A large portion of India is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean and Arabian Sea. The Himalayan Mountains stretch along India’s northern border, and countries around India include Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh.
Top 10 facts
- About 1.2 billion people live in India.
- The capital of India is New Delhi, but the largest city is Mumbai.
- Hindi is the official language in India, with English as an additional official language.
- The currency in India is the rupee.
- The main religion in India is Hinduism. The next most popular religion is Islam; Sikhs and Christians also live in the country.
- One of the most important Hindu festivals is Diwali, also called the ‘festival of lights’.
- Women in India wear saris, and men wear dhotis. Both are long pieces of cloth draped around the body in a certain way.
- Cows are seen as sacred in India – nobody eats beef, and most people are vegetarians.
- India has a very large film industry called Bollywood.
- Animals found in India include Bengal tigers, elephants, flying foxes, lions and macaques.
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Did you know?
- People in India greet each other by saying ‘Namaste’ (pronounced na-ma-stay) which means ‘I bow my head to you’.
- Indian Independence Day is celebrated on 15 August. India became independent after British rule on 15 August 1947.
- Many women in India wear saris, which are long pieces of cloth draped around the waist and shoulders – like a dress. Men in India where dhotis, which is another kind of long piece of cloth that is tied around the waist and between the legs – like trousers.
- A popular instrument in India is the sitar, which is like a guitar but with a much longer neck.
- The monsoon season in India is the time when the country has the most rain, and it can last from July to September.
- The money that people in India use is called rupees – £1 is worth about the same as 85 rupees.
- One of the main festivals in India is Diwali – it takes place around the end of October, and signals the start of the new year in the Indian calendar. Everyone lights lamps in their homes during Diwali, so it is also called the ‘festival of lights’.
- There are three bodies of water around India: the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal.
- The main river in India is the Ganges, in the northeast of the country.
- Cows are considered sacred in India, and must not be harmed. They are allowed to go where they want, and may even cause traffic jams when they walk through cities!
- India is the only country in the world where both lions and tigers live.
- Children in India begin school in April or June.
- A map of India
- The Taj Mahal
- A woman wearing a sari
- A Hindu man
- Rupee notes
- Henna designs on a woman’s hands
- The flag of India
- A monkey in the town of Vrindavan
- Women working in a tea plantation
- Spices in an Indian market
- Snake charmers
- A Bollywood film
The Indian flag has to be made from a special fabric called khadi. The colours and symbol each represent something – orange represents courage and sacrifice, white represents truth and purity, green represents peace and prosperity, and the symbol in the centre (Ashoka Chakra) stands for the laws of virtue (dharma).
A paste made from henna plants is used to paint intricate designs on the skin. This is usually done for festivals, or for weddings.
The Himalayas extend across the top of India, and are about 2,400 kilometres long. The tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, is part of the Himalayas.
India has a variety of terrain, including jungles, coastal plains and a desert (Thar Desert). There are 12 main rivers that flow across India, and the longest is the Ganges.
There are two archaeological sites in northwest India that are thought to be the earliest civilisations known in the country. They existed about 5,000 years ago, and are located in the region called the Indus Valley.
The period of time when India was ruled by Britain is called the British Raj. It lasted for almost a century. India was given its independence in 1947, following a nationalist movement led by Mohandas Ghandi.
Social classes in India are called castes. People who do not belong to any caste are called ‘untouchables’.
India’s form of government is a democracy – it is the world’s largest democracy.
Indian food is characterised by lots of spices, such as cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, anise and cardamom. Each region of India produces different kinds of food.
The Taj Mahal in Agra is one of India’s most famous sights. It is actually a tomb built in the 17th century to honour the wife of Shah Jahan, who died in childbirth.
India has a high level of poverty – over 30% of people in India have very little money to buy food and supplies. Poor children may have to work at a very young age to help their parents. There is a huge gap between richer people, who tend to live in the cities, and the rural poor who live in the countryside.
Names to know:
Gautam Buddha (563-483 BC) – Gautan Buddha is the founder of Buddhism. During his life, he was known for being a spiritual teacher.
Guru Nanak (1469-1539) – Guru Nakak founded Sikhism. Leaders of Sikhism are called Gurus in honour of Guru Nanak.
Mohandas Ghandi (1869-1948) – Mohandas Ghandi led a nationalist movement in India that supported independence from British rule. He was also called Mahatma, which is a title of honour. Ghandi was known for supporting non-violent forms of protest.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) – Rudyard Kipling is an English author who spent his some of his life as a child and young adult in India. His time in India and the culture there inspired much of his writing. He is most known for his Just So Stories and The Jungle Book.
Just for fun...
- Make some Indian crafts including mandalas and temporary henna tattoos
- Try this quiz about India and Indian traditions
- Download the British Council's India activity pack for kids and make shadow puppets of Rama and Sita, learn some Hindi and try some Indian cooking
- Do some Diwali and Rangoli crafting
- Worksheets about India to complete
- Print out some India colouring pages
- Learn to cook some Indian food including naan bread, aloo pakora and lassi
- Make your own portable pachisi and play the national game of India
- Learn useful Hindi phrases and find out how to pronounce the words correctly
- Listen to children's music from India, including rhymes and sonds in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, Urdu, Marathi, Assamese, Bengali and Malayalam
- Mangoes of India is an interactive game
- Can you complete an India States and Capitals Map Puzzle?
- Watch and listen to 10 fantastic Bollywood Dance Songs
- Try some Hindi colouring sheets and alphabet sheets
- Examine some Indian objects in a BBC interactive guide
- Listen to a BBC Schools Radio audio guide to the city of Kochi in the state of Kerala in India
- Make your own paper model of the Taj Mahal
Children's books about India
Find out more about India:
- The BBC Bitesize video introduction to India
- Read the National Geographic Kids facts guides to Diwali and India
- A children's guide to modern India, an independent nation since 1947
- A map of India to print out
- Download an Action Aid factsheet about India, the world's largest democracy, for KS2 kids
- Watch loads of different BBC video clips about life in India
- Find out more about the art of henna
- Primary History: Indus Valley
- See classical musical instruments from India
- Listen to the Hindi alphabet
- Find out about traditional games played by Indian children
- BBC Bitesize videos about life in different areas of India and an Indian school day
See for yourself
Explore Indian sights and landscapes on the Google Arts & Culture website
Some of India's top tourist attractions:
- Taj Mahal
- Ganges River
- Mountain Railways of India
- National Ghandi Museum
- Elephanta caves
- Goa beaches – also called ‘beach paradise’!
- Tiger reserves – part of the Project Tiger scheme