India, officially the Republic of India is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with 1.18 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world. Mainland India is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the west, and the Bay of Bengal on the east; and it is bordered by Pakistan to the west;[note] China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Bangladesh and Burma to the east. India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka, and the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, and its Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also in the vicinity of the Indonesian island of Sumatra in the Andaman Sea. India has a coastline of 7,517 kilometres (4,700 mi).
Home to the Indus Valley Civilisation and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history. Four major religions, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism originated here, while Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE and shaped the region's diverse culture. Gradually annexed by the British East India Company from the early eighteenth century and colonised by the United Kingdom from the mid-nineteenth century, India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle for independence that was marked by widespread non-violent resistance.
India is a federal constitutional republic consisting of 28 states and seven union territories with a parliamentary system of democracy. The Indian economy is the world's eleventh largest economy by nominal GDP and the fourth largest by purchasing power parity. Economic reforms since 1991 have transformed it into one of the fastest growing economies in the world. India is a nuclear weapons state and has the third-largest standing army in the world. India is considered to be a potential superpower, having a rapidly growing economy and growing political clout. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, G15, G20, Asia Cooperation Dialogue, the Colombo Plan, Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation and the Non-aligned movement, and is one of the BRIC Countries. A pluralistic, multilingual and multiethnic society, India is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.