The Indian subcontinent in the Indian Ocean is unique, in its history, geography, culture and its people.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as of 2013, the Indian economy is nominally worth US$1.842 trillion; it is the eleventh-largest economy by market exchange rates, and is, at US$4.962 trillion, the third-largest by purchasing power parity, or PPP. With its average annual GDP growth rate of 5.8% over the past two decades, and reaching 6.1% during 2011-12, India is one of the world's fastest-growing economies.
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India ranks 17th in financial market sophistication, 24th in the banking sector, 44th in business sophistication, and 39th in innovation, ahead of several advanced economies. With 7 of the world's top 15 information technology outsourcing companies based in India, the country is viewed as the second-most favourable outsourcing destination after the United States. India's consumer market, currently the world's eleventh-largest, is expected to become fifth-largest by 2030.
India surpassed Japan to become the third largest Smartphone market in the world after China and the U.S. Its automotive industry, the world's second fastest growing, increased domestic sales by 26% during 2009-10,and exports by 36% during 2008-09. Power capacity is 250 giga watts, of which 8% is renewable. At the end of 2011, Indian IT Industry employed 2.8 million professionals, generated revenues close to US$100 billion equalling 7.5% of Indian GDP and contributed 26% of India's merchandise exports.
India is a pluralistic, multilingual, and a multi-ethnic society. After independence from British rule in 1947, it has remained a democracy with civil liberties, an activist Supreme Court, and a largely independent press. India is a federation with a parliamentary system. It is a constitutional republic and a representative democracy, in which "majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law".
Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Indus Valley Civilisation, was the first urban culture in South Asia, and flourished during 2500-1900 BCE in western India and present day Pakistan. The Vedas, one of the oldest scriptures, were composed during this period.
India lies within the Indomalaya Eco zone and contains three biodiversity hotspots. One of 17 megadiverse countries, India contains 172 IUCN-designated threatened animal species, or 2.9% of endangered forms. These include the Asiatic lion, the Bengal tiger, and the Indian White-rumped Vulture. India hosts more than five hundred wildlife sanctuaries and thirteen biosphere reserves, four of which are part of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves; twenty-five wetlands are registered under the Ramsar Convention.
The earliest literary writings in India, composed between 1400 BCE and 1200 CE, were in the Sanskrit language. Developed between 600 BCE and 300 CE in South India, the Sangam literature, consisting of 2,381 poems, is highly regarded.
India has been a centre for learning, since thousands of years, when great scholars taught through the scriptures. A variety of subjects such as philosophy, religion, medicine, literature, drama and arts, astrology, mathematics and sociology were taught and masterpieces on these subjects were written.
Nalanda, the seat of learning, which flourished from the 5th to 13th century AD, had at one time about 10,000 resident students and teachers on its rolls, including Chinese, Sri Lankan, Korean and other international scholars.
India currently has over 575 universities and more than 25,000 colleges affiliated to them. With 428 engineering colleges and technological institutes, more than a 100 medical colleges, scores of agricultural institutes and many other specialized centres of learning and research in every subject and discipline, India can claim its position as one of the leading countries providing quality higher education to its people as well as to students and scholars from countries all over the world.
The literacy rate in India in 2011 was 74.04%: 65.46% among females and 82.14% among males. Kerala is the most literate state with 95.5% literacy.