Country information overview Bound by China and the Himalayan Mountains to the north, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea to the south, and situated between Pakistan and Myanmar, India is one of the oldest civilizations and home to 1.2 billion people. India’s most celebrated figure, Mahatma Gandhi, led his country to independence from British rule in 1947. Famous for his humanitarianism and being leader of the India National Congress in 1921, Gandhi was later assassinated in 1948. Today, India remains the largest democracy in the world. Every major world religion is represented in India, with Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism all originating in India. Eighty percent of Indians are Hindu and although Hindi and English are the country’s official languages, the government recognizes 17 other languages as well as 1,652 dialects being spoken throughout the country. Despite impressive gains in economic investment and output, India still faces significant issues such as overpopulation, environmental degradation, extensive poverty, and ethnic and religious strife. Approximately 44 percent of children under five are underweight in India, which, given its impact on health, education and productivity, remains a major obstacle to human development and economic growth in the country, especially among the most marginalized populations.

India facts: ► India is the second-most populated country in the world. ► ► 69% of India’s population lives in rural areas. ► ► India’s average life expectancy is 66 years. ► ► The literacy rate in India is 63%, which means almost 444 million people are illiterate. ► ► 12% of children aged five to 14 are engaged in child labor. ► ► While 90% of those in rural areas have access to improved water sources, only 40% have access to improved sanitation facilities.


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