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Home / India / Country Profile / Geography
Area features | Population | Principal Centres | Climate

Area and geographical features

Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere, India is located in the southern peninsula of the Asian continent. The Tropic of Cancer (23?30') divides the country into two almost equal parts. The Indian mainland measures about 3,200 km from north to south, between latitudes 8?4' and 37?6' and about 2,900 km from east to west, between longitudes 68?7' and 97?25'. Situated to the east of the Prime Meridian, India also belongs to the eastern hemisphere. It has a land frontier of about 15,000km, a coastline of about 6,100km and an area of 3.29 million sq. km.

India is bordered on the north by China and Nepal and in the north-east by Bhutan. The Himalayas form India's northern frontier, except in the Nepal region. To the east lies Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Bangladesh, the latter wedged in between the surrounding Indian states. In the north-west lies Pakistan. The southern part of India tapers off into a peninsula, with the Arabian Sea on the west and the Bay of Bengal on the east. The Gulf of Mannar and Palk Strait separate India from Sri Lanka.

The Indian subcontinent consists of three structural components: the great mountain zone in the north; the Indo-Gangetic plains, about 2,400 km long and 240 km to 320 km wide; and the southern peninsula, consisting of the fairly high Deccan Plateau, the mountains and coastal strips. There is also a desert region in the north-west.

Natural hazards such as droughts, floods, thunderstorms and earthquakes have all been known.

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1 billion (est. 2000)

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Principal commercial centres and towns

City/Town Population
Mumbai (Bombay) 12,596,000
Calcutta 11,022,000
New Delhi 9,980,000
Chennai (Madras) 5,422,000
Hyderabad 4,344,000
Bangalore 4,130,000
Ahmedabad 3,312,000
Pune 2,494,000
Bhopal 1,063,000

There are estimated to be 25 Cities/Towns with a population greater than 1 million.

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India has a great variation of climate, with striking contrasts of meteorological conditions, the climate is mainly monsoon tropical. The contrast between Assam in the east and Rajasthan in the west presents extremes of dampness and dryness. In the Thar desert in Rajasthan the average annual rainfall is less than 13 cm, while in Cherrapunji in Assam it can be as high as 1,100 cm. India's climate is affected greatly by the monsoons.

On the whole summers (March-June) are hot and dry except in the hills and along the coast where it is humid. Temperatures in May/June can soar as high as 47C. During the monsoon (July-September), the sub-continent is awash with its annual quota of rain. The winters (November-February) are cool and bright except for parts of the south-east where it is rainy.

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World maps are available from:
National Geographic
Perry-Castaneda Library

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