India is a huge country (seventh largest in the world) with more than a billion people making this multicultural and multilingual nation, which is the second most populous after China. This South Asian country is bordered by Pakistan to the west, China, Nepal and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east.The sheer cultural and spiritual wealth of India gives this country a colourfull and distinctive outlook thriving within its democratic system of governance.
Along the Indus River valleys India saw one of the world's earliest and greatest civilizations flourish on its land some five thousand years ago. In the later periods many rulers ruled over this vast land; Aryans came in around 1500 BC during which Vedic beliefs spread through large parts of India, and then in 4th century BC Emperor Ashoka brought entire India under his rule and later embraced Buddhism spread by Buddha some 200 years earlier. The emperor built famous Sanchi monuments. Ashoka pillar at Sarnath has become the India's national emblem and Dharma Chakra on the pillar adorns India's national flag. Later Gupta's ruled the North India and Cholas, the Pandyas and the Cheras in South around 1100 during which Hinduism spread in India. They were followed by Christianity, Zoroastrians or Parsis, and Sikhism in 15th century founded by Guru Nanak. The spread of Islam began in Kerala through Arab travelers earlier than the advent of Mohammed of Ghori in 1192 from Afghanistan, 1398 attack from Turkey under Timur, or the Mughal's who ruled large parts of India for much longer period. In 1600 among European colonial rulers British eventually controlled India until 1947
The Republic of India has 28 states and seven union territories and it is among the fastest growing economy, though majority of its population still live under impoverished conditions. Religion is deeply rooted in Indian cultures and minds of the people. Principal religions are Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam, Jainism, Buddhism and Christianity. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, through his path of Non-violence gave India freedom from British colonial rule in 1947 after a long and sustained countrywide struggle, however, partition of India in the same year caused the creation of a Muslim majority nation called Pakistan. Since then four wars have been fought between Hindu majority India and Pakistan over their most contentious issue of Kashmir, which has now become an international security concern.