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|GDP (Nominal)||$1.854 trillion (2009)|
|GDP per capita (Nominal)||$1,079 (2009)|
|Languages||Assamese, Bengali, Dhivehi, Dzongkha, English, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi, Manipuri, Nepali, Oriya, Pashto, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Sindhi, Sinhala, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu, and many others|
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South Asia or Southern Asia is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities, adjoining countries to the west and east. Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate, which rises above sea level as northern parts of India south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. South Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean and on land (clockwise, from west) by West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.
The core countries of South Asia constitute of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, however, Afghanistan, the British Indian Ocean Territory, Myanmar, and the Tibet Autonomous Region are often included as well. South Asia is home to well over one fifth of the world's population, making it both the most populous and the most densely populated geographical region in the world. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is an economic cooperation organisation in the region which was established in 1985.
Although there's a distinct core of countries that were formerly part of the British Empire, there is much variation as to which (if any) other countries are included. The current territories of Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan, form the core, but Nepal and Myanmar are often added. The Aden Colony, British Somaliland and Singapore, though administered at various times under British Empire have not been proposed as any part of South Asia.
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), a contiguous block of countries, started in 1985 with seven countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — but was extended to include Afghanistan as an eighth member in 2006. The World Bank grouping includes only the original seven members of SAARC, and leaves Afghanistan out. This bloc of countries include three independent countries that were not under the British rule - Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. The South Asia Free Trade Agreement endorsed by SAARC has been signed by the seven original members of the organisation, though it has a special provision for the Maldives.
A lack of coherent definition for South Asia has resulted in not only a lack of academic studies, but also in a lack interest for such studies. Identification with a South Asian identity was also found to be significantly low among respondents in a two-year survey across Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The term "Indian Subcontinent" was a term adopted and used by he British Empire. By dictionary entries, the term subcontinent signifies "having a certain geographical or political independence" from the rest of the continent,or "a vast and more or less self-contained subdivision of a continent." The definition of the geographical extent of the Indian subcontinent or South Asia varies. Physiographically, it is a peninsular region in south-central Asia, rather resembling a diamond which is delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east, and extending southward into the Indian Ocean.
Geopolitically, it has formed the whole territory of the post Mughal Empire conquered by the British Empire, and now it generally comprises the countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh;. Prior to the British imperial conquest, the three nations were historically controlled by the Mughal Empire with no official borders. British rule gave rise to loosely independent Hindu princes that rose during the rule that constituted British India. In some cases the area includes Nepal, Bhutan, and the island country of Sri Lanka. 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. A booklet published by the United States Department of State in 1959 includes Afghanistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh as part of the "Subcontinent of South Asia". 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, while Tibet and Nepal may be included or excluded intermittently, depending on the context.
When the Centre for South Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge was established, in 1964, it was primarily responsible for promoting within the university the study of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Himalayan Kingdoms (Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim), and Burma (now officially Myanmar). However, it has since extended its activities to include Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines and Hong Kong.
The Centres for South Asian Studies at both the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia include Tibet along with seven members of SAARC in their research programms, but leave the Maldives out. The South Asian Studies Program of Rutgers University and the University of California, Berkeley Centre for South Asia Studies do the same without leaving out the Maldives, while the South Asian Studies Program of Brandeis University defines the region as comprising "India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, and in certain contexts Afghanistan, Burma, Maldives and Tibet". The similar program of Columbia University also includes Tibet, but leaves out both Afghanistan and the Maldives.
While South Asia had never been a coherent geopolitical region, it has a distinct geographical identity. The boundaries of South Asia vary based on how the region is defined. South Asia's northern, eastern, and western boundaries vary based on definitions used, while the Indian Ocean is the southern periphery. Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by mountain barriers.
Much of the region consists of a peninsula in south-central Asia, rather resembling a diamond which is delineated by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east, and which extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast. The tip of the Indian Peninsula had the highest quality pearls.
The region is home to a variety of geographical features, such as glaciers, rainforests, valleys, deserts, and grasslands that are typical of much larger continents. It is surrounded by three water bodies — the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea. The climate of this vast region varies considerably from area to area from tropical monsoon in the south to temperate in the north. The variety is influenced by not only the altitude, but also by factors such as proximity to the sea coast and the seasonal impact of the monsoons. Southern parts are mostly hot in summers and receive rain during monsoon period(s). The northern belt of Indo-Gangetic plains also is hot in summer, but cooler in winter. The mountainous north is colder and receives snowfall at higher altitudes of Himalyan ranges.
As the Himalayas block the north-Asian bitter cold winds, the temperatures are considerably moderate in the plains down below. For most part, the climate of the region is called the Monsoon climate, which keeps the region humid during summer and dry during winter, and favours the cultivation of jute, tea, rice, and various vegetables in this region.
Most of this region is a subcontinent resting on the Indian Plate (the northerly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate) separated from the rest of the Eurasian Plate. It was once a small continent before colliding with the Eurasian Plate about 50-55 million years ago and giving birth to the Himalayan range and the Tibetan plateau. It is the peninsular region south of the Himalayas and Kuen Lun mountain ranges and east of the Indus River and the Iranian Plateau, extending southward into the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Sea (to the southwest) and the Bay of Bengal (to the southeast).
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, and extending up to but not including Ladakh, Kohistan, the Hindu Kush range and Balochistan. It may be noted that geophysically the Yarlung Tsangpo River river in Tibet is situated at the outside of the border of the Subcontinental structure, while the Pamir Mountains in Tajikistan are situated inside that border.
||This section may require cleanup to meet Wikipedia's quality standards. The specific problem is: it falls far short of comprehensive coverage and needs more geographical coverage. (February 2014)|
The history of core South Asia begins with evidence of human activity of Homo sapiens, as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including Homo erectus from about 500,000 years ago. The Indus Valley Civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of South Asia from c. 3300 to 1300 BCE in present-day Pakistan and northwest India, was the first major civilization in South Asia. A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture developed in the Mature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BCE.
This Bronze Age civilisation collapsed before the end of the second millennium BCE and was followed by the Iron Age Vedic Civilisation, which extended over much of the Indo-Gangetic plain and which witnessed the rise of major polities known as the Mahajanapadas. In one of these kingdoms, Magadha, Mahavira and Gautama Buddha were born in the 6th or 5th century BCE and propagated their Shramanic philosophies.
Most of South Asia was conquered by the Maurya Empire during the 4th and 3rd centuries BCE. Various parts of India ruled by numerous Middle kingdoms for the next 1,500 years, among which the Gupta Empire stands out. Southern India saw the rule of the Chalukyas, Cholas, Pallavas, and Pandyas. This period, witnessing a Hindu religious and intellectual resurgence, is known as the classical or "Golden Age of India". During this period, aspects of Indian civilisation, administration, culture, and religion (Hinduism and Buddhism) spread to much of Asia, while kingdoms in southern India had maritime business links with the Roman Empire from around 77 CE.
Muslim rule in core South Asia began in 8th century CE when the Arab general Muhammad bin Qasim conquered Sindh and Multan in southern Punjab in modern day Pakistan, setting the stage for several successive invasions from Central Asia between the 10th and 15th centuries CE, leading to the formation of Muslim empires in South Asia such as the Delhi Sultanate and the Mughal Empire. Mughal rule came from Central Asia to cover most of the northern parts of South Asia. Mughal rulers introduced Central Asian art and architecture to India. In addition to the Mughals and various Rajput kingdoms, several independent Hindu states, such as the Vijayanagara Empire, the Maratha Empire, Eastern Ganga Empire and the Ahom Kingdom, flourished contemporaneously in southern, western, eastern and northeastern India respectively. The Mughal Empire suffered a gradual decline in the early 18th century, leaving a power vacuum that was exploited by local rulers such as the Sikhs and Marathas and later used by the British East India Company to gain ascendancy over most of South Asia.
Beginning in the mid-18th century and over the next century, large areas of India were annexed by the British East India Company. Dissatisfaction with Company rule led to the Indian Rebellion of 1857, after which the British provinces of India were directly administered by the British Crown and witnessed a period of both rapid development of infrastructure and economic decline. During the first half of the 20th century, a nationwide struggle for independence was launched by the Indian National Congress and later joined by the Muslim League. India gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947, after the British provinces were partitioned into the dominions of India and Pakistan and the princely states all acceded to one of the new states.
2009 referenced population figures except where noted.
With the core seven countries, the area covers about 4.48 million km² (1.7 million mi²), which is 10% of the Asian continent or 2.4% of the world's land surface area. They account for about 34% of Asia's population (or over 16.5% of the world's population) and are home to a vast array of peoples.
(2009 / 2012)
|Capital||Currency||Government||Official languages||Coat of arms|
|Bangladesh||147,570||152,518,015||899||$353.72 billion||$1,344||Dhaka||Taka||Unitary parliamentary democracy||Bangla|
|India||3,287,240||1,210,193,422||382||$1.247 trillion||$1,592||New Delhi||Indian rupee||Parliamentary democracy federal republic||Hindi|
|Nepal||147,181||26,620,080||200||$19.921 billion||$743||Kathmandu||Nepalese rupee||Democratic republic||Nepali|
|Pakistan||796,095||180,440,000||225||$230.525 billion||$1,410||Islamabad||Pakistani rupee||Parliamentary democracy Federal republic||Urdu|
|Sri Lanka||65,610||20,277,597||319||$64.914 billion||$3,139||Sri Jayawardanapura Kotte||Sri Lankan rupee||Democratic socialist republic|
|country or region||Area
|GDP per capita
|Capital||Currency||Government||Official languages||Coat of Arms|
|Afghanistan||652,230||29,150,000||52||$34.55 billion||$621||Kabul||Afghani||Islamic republic|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||60||3,500||59||N/A||N/A||Diego Garcia||US Dollar||British Overseas Territory||English|
|Burma||676,578||48,137,141||71||$53.140 billion||$854||Naypyidaw||Myanma kyat||Constitutional republic||Burmese|
|China - Tibet Autonomous Region||1,228,400||2,740,000||2||$9.6 billion||$2,558||Lhasa||Chinese yuan||Autonomous region of China||Tibetan, Mandarin Chinese|
Total population of South Asia is about 1.70 billion.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2011)|
South Asia, which consists of the nations of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, is ethnically diverse, with more than 2,000 ethnic entities with populations ranging from hundreds of millions to small tribal groups. South Asia has been invaded and settled by many ethnic groups over the centuries - including various Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and Iranian groups - and amalgamation of Dravidian, Indo-Aryan and native societies has produced composite cultures with many common traditions and beliefs. But, the traditions of different ethnic groups in South Asia have diverged throughout earlier times, sometimes giving rise to strong local traditions such as the distinct South Indian culture.
Other ethnic groups, successively streaming in later mainly from Central Asia e.g. Sakas, Kushans, Huns etc. influenced pre-existing South Asian cultures. Among the last of these new arrivals were the Arabs followed by the Turks, the Pashtuns and the Moghuls. However, Arab influence remained relatively limited in comparison to that of the Turks, Pashtuns and Moghuls, who brought in much cultural influence and contributed to the birth of Urdu, a syncretic language of combined Indo-Persian heritage, which is widely spoken today. Ethnic Englishmen and other Britons are now practically absent after their two centuries long colonial presence, although they have left an imprint of western culture in the elite society.
The largest spoken language in this region is Hindi, its speakers numbering almost 422 million, the second largest spoken language is Bengali, with about 210 million speakers. the Third largest spoken language is Tamil, with about 80-90 million speakers. Urdu is also a major language spoken in the subcontinent, especially in Pakistan, and is similar linguistically to Hindi; Hindi and Urdu together make up Hindustānī. Other languages of this region fall into a few major linguistic groups: the Dravidian languages:Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannadam and the Indo-Aryan languages, a sub-branch of the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages.
The other great sub-branch of Indo-Iranian, the Iranian languages, also have significant minority representation in South Asia, with Pashto and Balochi being widely spoken along the northwestern fringes of the region, in modern-day Pakistan. Many Tibeto-Burman ethnic groups, who are speakers of their language-group, are found in northeast India, Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan. Other small groups, speaking Austroasiatic languages, are also present in South Asia. English is another language which dominates South Asia, especially as a medium of advanced education and government administration.
Most of South Asia writes using various abugidas of Brāhmī origin while languages such as Urdu, Pashto, and Sindhi use derivatives of the Perso-Arabic script. Not all languages in South Asia follow this strict dichotomy though. For example, Kashmiri is written in both the Perso-Arabic script and in the Devanagari script. The same can be said for Punjabi, which is written in both Shahmukhi and Gurmukhī. Dhivehi is written in a script called Tāna that shows characteristics of both the Arabic alphabet and of an abugida.
Indian religions, also called dharmic religions, are the religions that originated in South Asia; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Although Indian religions are connected through the history of South Asia, they constitute a wide range of religious communities, and are not confined to the Indian subcontinent.
Arabs traders brought the Abrahamic religion of Islam to South Asia, first in the present day Kerala, Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands. Later Sindh, Balochistan, and parts of the Punjab region saw emigration and immigration from the who saw and didn't see the conquests of the Arab caliphates, which resulted in spread of Islam in parts of Western region of South Asia. Subsequently, Muslim Mughal conquerors and further emigration and immigration furthered it throughout the Indo-Gangetic plains, further east towards Bengal, and deep south up to the Deccan.
|Afghanistan||Islam (99%), Hinduism, Sikhism and Christianity (1%)|
|Bangladesh||Islam (89.5%), Hinduism (9.5%), Buddhism (0.7%), Christianity (0.32%)|
|British Indian Ocean Territory||Christianity (45.55%), Hinduism (38.55%), Islam (9.25%), Others (6.65%)|
|Bhutan||Buddhism (75%), Hinduism (25%)|
|Burma||Theravada Buddhism (89%), Islam (4%), Christianity (Baptist and Roman Catholic) (4%), Animism (1%), Others (including Hinduism) (2%)|
|India||Hinduism (80.5%), Islam (13.5%), Christianity (2.3%), Sikhism (1.9%), Buddhism (0.8%), Jainism (0.4%), Others (0.6%)|
|Maldives||Sunni Islam (100%) (One must be a Sunni Muslim to be a citizen on the Maldives)|
|Nepal||Hinduism (81.3%), Buddhism (9.0%), Islam (4.4%), Kirat (3.1%), Christianity (1.4%), Others (0.8%)|
|Pakistan||Islam (96.28%), Hinduism (1.85%), Christianity (1.59%), Ahmaddiyya (0.22%)|
|Sri Lanka||Theravada Buddhism (70.19%), Hinduism (12.61%), ), Islam (9.71%), Christianity ( 7.45%).|
South Asia is the poorest region in the world after Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the UN's Multidimensional Poverty Index, just over a quarter of the world's MPI poor people live in Africa, while a half live in South Asia. The study also found there are more poor people in eight Indian states than in the 26 poorest African countries. According to the index, 55 per cent of people in South Asia are MPI-poor and in sub-Saharan Africa, 64.5 per cent of people are MPI-poor. And according to the poverty data of World Bank, more than 40% of the population in the region lived on less than the International Poverty Line of $1.25 per day in 2005, compared to 50% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Sri Lanka has the highest GDP per capita in the region, while Afghanistan has the lowest. India is the largest economy in the region (US$ 1.97 trillion) and makes up almost 82% of the South Asian economy; it is the world's 10th largest in nominal terms and 3rd largest by purchasing power adjusted exchange rates. Pakistan has the next largest economy and the 5th highest GDP per capita in the region, followed by Bangladesh and then by Sri Lanka which has the 2nd highest per capita and is the 4th largest economy in the region. According to a World Bank report in 2007, South Asia is the least integrated region in the world; trade between South Asian states is only 2% of the region's combined GDP, compared to 20% in East Asia. The Economist has blamed this on Indian neglect of its neighbors.
|New 2013 estimates for 2012|
|High human development|
|Medium human development|
|Low human development|
The UN deviates in it's statements regarding wich nations are part of the region, as it bases it's reasons on very different factors. For example, according to the United Nations geographical region classification, Southern Asia comprises the countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. However, the United Nations personally notes that the "assignment of countries or areas to specific groupings is for statistical convenience and does not imply any assumption regarding political or other affiliation of countries or territories." By some definitions, some of those nations are not part of the region, and by some definitions, Burma and Tibet are also included in the region (see below).
Per the UN's definition, purely based on statistical convenience without any assumption of political or other affiliation of the countries, the wider subregion's northern frontier is the Himalayas and southerly post-Soviet states of Central Asia (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, bordering northern Afghanistan and Iran), its western boundary is the westerly border of Iran (with Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, and Iraq), and its eastern boundary is the westerly border of Burma (with India and Bangladesh).
The United Nations Population Information Network (POPIN) includes Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burma, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as part of South Asia, while Maldives, in view of its characteristics, was admitted as a member country of the Pacific POPIN subregional network in principle. The Hirschman–Herfindahl index of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for the region includes only the original seven signatories of SAARC.
|Name of country/region, with flag||Area
|Capital or Secretariat||Currency||Countries included||Official languages||Coat of Arms|
|UN subregion of South Asia||6,778,083||1,702,000,000||270.77||N/A||N/A||Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka||N/A||N/A|
India and Pakistan[dubious ] are the dominant political powers in the region. India is by far the largest country in the area covering around three-fourths the land area of the subcontinent. It also has the largest population of around three times the combined population of the 6 other countries in the subcontinent. India is also the most populous democracy in the world and is a nuclear weapons state.
The second largest country in the subcontinent in terms of area and population is Pakistan and has traditionally maintained the balance of power in the region[dubious ] due to its strategic relationships with nearby Arab states and neighboring China. Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world, the fifth largest democracy in the world, and is also a nuclear power. Bangladesh is the third largest populous country in the region. It is also the largest contributor to the UN peacekeeping force.
Diplomacy among the countries of South Asia has been mainly driven by populist politics, with the centre-stage taken by India-Pakistan conflict ever since their independence in 1947, and then the creation of Bangladesh under tense circumstances in 1971. During the height of Cold war, the elite political leaders of Pakistan aligned with the US, while India played crucial role in forming the Non-Aligned Movement and while maintaining goodwill relations with the USSR.
The political situation in Sri Lanka has been dominated by an increasingly assertive Sinhalese nationalism, and the emergence of a Tamil separatist movement under LTTE, which was suppressed recently. Burma's politics is dominated by a military Junta, which has sidelined the democratic forces led by Aung San Suu Kyi.
There are 421 million MPI-poor people in eight Indian states alone - Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal - while there are 410 million in the 26 poorest African countries combined. Roughly 42% of Indian children under age 5 suffer from malnutrition.
According to the World Bank, 70% of the South Asian population and about 75% of South Asia's poor live in rural areas and most rely on agriculture for their livelihood. According to the Global Hunger Index, South Asia has one of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world. In a latest report published by UNICEF in 2008 on global hunger shows that the actual number of child deaths was around 2.1 million. As of 2008 India is ranked 66th on the global hunger index.
The 2006 report stated that "the low status of women in South Asian countries and their lack of nutritional knowledge are important determinants of high prevalence of underweight children in the region". Corruption and the lack of initiative on the part of the government has been one of the major problems associated with nutrition in India. Illiteracy in villages has been found to be one of the major issues that need more government attention. The report mentioned that, although there has been a reduction in malnutrition due to the Green Revolution in South Asia, there is concern that South Asia has "inadequate feeding and caring practices for young children".
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