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India*India flag
Basic facts
The country 
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Capital: New Delhi
Area: 3,165,596 sq km; 1,222,243 sq miles
Population: 1,029,991,145 (July 2001 est.)
Urbanisation: Urban 28 per cent (1998 Estimate); Rural 72 per cent (1998 Estimate)


Exports: Clothing, gems and jewellery, engineering goods, chemicals, leather manufactured goods, cotton yarn, fabric

Industry: Textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transport equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery

Agriculture: Principal crops: rice, wheat, oilseeds, cotton, jute, tea, sugar cane, potatoes; livestock: cattle, buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry

Currency: 1 Indian rupee (Re), consisting of 100 paise

Natural resources: Coal (one of the largest reserves in the world), iron ore, manganese, mica, bauxite, titanium ore, chromite, natural gas, diamonds, petroleum, limestone


The people

Ethnic: Indo-Aryan 72 per cent, Dravidian 25 per cent, other 3 per cent

Language: Hindi 40 per cent, Bengali 8 per cent, Telugu 8 per cent, Marathi 7 per cent, Tamil 6 per cent, Urdu 5 per cent, Gujarati 5 per cent, Kannada 4 per cent, Malayalam 4 per cent, Oriya 3 per cent, Punjabi 3 per cent, Assamese 2 per cent, Other 5 per cent. There are at least 300 known languages in India, 24 of which have 1 million or more speakers each. Hindi is the national language. The constitution recognises another 17 languages, including Bengali, Tamil, Urdu, Punjabi, Telugu and Sanskrit. At least 30 per cent of the population speaks Hindi. English is important for business and Government and is the language of national communication.

Religion: India is the birthplace of the Hindu, Buddhist, Jain and Sikh religions; it is also the adopted home of most followers of Zoroastrianism, as well as a great many Muslims, Jews and Christians. Hindu 81.3 per cent, Muslim 12.0 per cent, Christian 2.3 per cent, Sikh 1.9 per cent, Other 2.5 per cent.


The history

Independence: 15 August 1947 (from the United Kingdom). India is the world's most populous democracy; free elections have determined leadership since 1947.

Government: The Republic of India is a federation divided into states and Union Territories. Each state has its own governor, who is appointed by the President and its own elected legislature. Union Territories are each governed by a lieutenant governor or administrator appointed by the President. The President, who is elected by a college of parliament and the state assemblies, is head of state. The Prime Minister is head of Government. The national legislature comprises a 245-member Council of States (Rajya Sabha), which is elected for six years; and a 545-member House of the People (Lok Sabha), which is elected for five years.

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