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The Indian subcontinent, the subcontinent or Indian continent, is the popular term used interchangeably to describe South Asia.[2] It is defined as the southern region of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago.[3] Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east.[4] Politically, the Indian subcontinent usually includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.[5][6][7] There is no consensus about which countries should be included in each.[8][9][10]

Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent.JPG
Area 4.4 million km2 (1.7 million mi²)
Population 1.710 billion (2015)[1]
Population density 389/km2
Demonym Subcontinental
Countries Bangladesh
Bhutan
India
Maldives
Nepal
Pakistan
Sri Lanka

Contents

TerminologyEdit

 
Orthographic projection of Indian subcontinent

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "subcontinent" signifies a "subdivision of a continent which has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity" and also a "large land mass somewhat smaller than a continent".[11][12] It was especially convenient for referring to the region comprising both British India and the princely states under British Paramountcy.[13][14] Though the English term "subcontinent" mainly refers to the Indian subcontinent from early 20th century,[15][16] the term was earlier attested in 1845 to refer to the North and South Americas, before they were regarded as separate continents. The geopolitical definition and the use of terms such as Indian subcontinent, South Asian subcontinent and South Asia is a contested topic.[8][17][10]

The region has been variously labelled as "India" (in its pre-modern sense), Greater India, the Indian Subcontinent (a term in particularly common use in the British Empire and its successors)[18] and South Asia.[19][20] Though the terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are generally used interchangeably,[21] some academics hold that the term "South Asia" is the more common usage in Europe and North America.[22][23] According to historians Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, the Indian Subcontinent has come to be known as South Asia "in more recent and neutral parlance."[24] Indologist Ronald B. Inden argues that the usage of the term "South Asia" is becoming more widespread since it clearly distinguishes the region from East Asia.[25]

The terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are sometimes used interchangeably.[2] There is no globally accepted definition on which countries are a part of South Asia or the Indian subcontinent.[8][10][9] The Indian subcontinent has been a term particularly common in the British Empire and its successors.[2] Historians Catherine Asher and Cynthia Talbot state that the term "Indian subcontinent" describes a natural physical landmass in South Asia that has been relatively isolated from the rest of Eurasia.[26] According to Mittal and Thursby, it has also been labelled as India (in its classical and pre-modern sense), Greater India, or as South Asia.[19][20] The BBC and some academic sources refer to the region as the "Asian Subcontinent".[27][28] Some academics refer to it as "South Asian Subcontinent".[29][30]

ScopeEdit

NASA images of the Indian subcontinent during day and night.

Whether called the Indian subcontinent or South Asia, the definition of the geographical extent of this region varies. Geopolitically, it had formed the whole territory of Greater India,[19][20] and it generally comprises the countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.[5] Prior to 1947, most of the Indian subcontinent was part of British India. It generally includes Nepal, Bhutan, and the island country of Sri Lanka and may also include the island country of Maldives.[31] According to anthropologist John R. Lukacs, "the Indian Subcontinent occupies the major landmass of South Asia",[32] while political science professor Tatu Vanhanen states, "the seven countries of South Asia constitute geographically a compact region around the Indian Subcontinent".[33] The geopolitical boundaries of Indian subcontinent, according to Dhavendra Kumar, include "India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and other small islands of the Indian Ocean".[6] Maldives, the small archipelago southwest of the peninsula, is considered part of the Indian subcontinent.[7]

Parts of Afghanistan are sometimes included in Indian subcontinent as, states Ira M. Lapidus – a professor of History, it is a boundary territory with parts in Central Asia and in Indian subcontinent. The socio-religious history of Afghanistan are related to the Turkish-influenced Central Asia and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent, now known as Pakistan.[34][35] Others state Afghanistan being a part of Central Asia is not an accepted practice, and it is "clearly not part of the Indian subcontinent".[8]

GeologyEdit

The term Indian subcontinent also has a geological significance. It was, like the various continents, a part of the supercontinent of Gondwana. A series of tectonic splits caused formation of various basins, each drifting in various directions. The geological region called "Greater India" once included Madagascar, Seychelles, Antarctica and Austrolasia along with the Indian subcontinent basin. As a geological term, Indian subcontinent has meant that region formed from the collision of the Indian basin with Eurasia nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene.[3][36]

Geologically, the Indian subcontinent was originally a part of a "Greater India",[36] a region of Gondwana that drifted away from East Africa about 160 million years ago, around the Middle Jurassic period.[3] The region experienced high volcanic activity and plate subdivisions, creating Madagascar, Seychelles, Antarctica, Austrolasia and the Indian subcontinent basin. The Indian subcontinent drifted northeastwards, colliding with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene. This geological region largely includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.[3] The zone where the Eurasian and Indian subcontinent plates meet remains one of the geologically active areas, prone to major earthquakes.[37][38]

Physiographically, it is a peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east.[4][39] It extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast.[5][40] Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by large mountain barriers.[41]

Given the difficulty of passage through the Himalayas, the sociocultural, religious and political interaction of Indian subcontinent has largely been through the valleys of Afghanistan in its northwest,[42] the valleys of Manipur in its east, and by maritime over sea.[26] More difficult but historically important interaction has also occurred through passages pioneered by the Tibetans. These routes and interactions have led to the diffusion of Hinduism and Buddhism, for example, out of the Indian subcontinent into other parts of Asia, while Islam arrived into the Indian subcontinent through Afghanistan and to its coasts through the maritime routes.[26]

Using the more expansive definition – counting India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries – the Indian subcontinent covers about 4.4 million km² (1.7 million mi²), which is 10% of the Asian continent or 3.3% of the world's land surface area.[43][44] Overall, it accounts for about 45% of Asia's population (or over 25% of the world's population) and is home to a vast array of peoples.[43][45][46]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "World Population Prospects". United Nations: Population Division. 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c John McLeod, The history of India, page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-313-31459-4
    Milton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 0-8226-0034-X
    Jim Norwine & Alfonso González, The Third World: states of mind and being, pages 209, Taylor & Francis, 1988, ISBN 0-04-910121-8
    Boniface, Brian G.; Christopher P. Cooper (2005). Worldwide destinations: the geography of travel and tourism. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-7506-5997-0. 
    Judith Schott & Alix Henley, Culture, Religion, and Childbearing in a Multiracial Society, pages 274, Elsevier Health Sciences, 1996, ISBN 0-7506-2050-1
    Raj S. Bhopal, Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies, pages 33, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-856817-7
    Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, Asian Power and Politics, pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-674-04979-9
    Mark Juergensmeyer, The Oxford handbook of global religions, pages 465, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0-19-513798-1
    Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia, pages 3, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-30787-2
  3. ^ a b c d Robert Wynn Jones (2011). Applications of Palaeontology: Techniques and Case Studies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 267–271. ISBN 978-1-139-49920-0. 
  4. ^ a b Baker, Kathleen M.; Chapman, Graham P. (11 March 2002), The Changing Geography of Asia, Routledge, pp. 10–, ISBN 978-1-134-93384-6, This greater India is well defined in terms of topography; it is the Indian sub-continent, hemmed in by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Khush in the west and the Arakanese in the east. 
  5. ^ a b c "Indian subcontinent". New Oxford Dictionary of English (ISBN 0-19-860441-6) New York: Oxford University Press, 2001; p. 929: "the part of Asia south of the Himalayas which forms a peninsula extending into the Indian Ocean, between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal. Historically forming the whole territory of Greater India, the region is now largely divided into three countries named Bangladesh, India and Pakistan."
  6. ^ a b Dhavendra Kumar (2012). Genomics and Health in the Developing World. Oxford University Press. p. 889. ISBN 978-0-19-537475-9. 
  7. ^ a b Mariam Pirbhai (2009). Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture: Novels of the South Asian Diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific. University of Toronto Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8020-9964-8. 
  8. ^ a b c d Ewan W. Anderson; Liam D. Anderson (2013). An Atlas of Middle Eastern Affairs. Routledge. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-136-64862-5. , Quote: "To the east, Iran, as a Gulf state, offers a generally accepted limit to the Middle East. However, Afghanistan, also a Muslim state, is then left in isolation. It is not accepted as a part of Central Asia and it is clearly not part of the Indian subcontinent".
  9. ^ a b Michael Mann (2014). South Asia’s Modern History: Thematic Perspectives. Taylor & Francis. pp. 13–15. ISBN 978-1-317-62445-5. 
  10. ^ a b c Jona Razzaque (2004). Public Interest Environmental Litigation in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Kluwer Law International. pp. 3 with footnotes 1 and 2. ISBN 978-90-411-2214-8. 
  11. ^ Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, Merriam-Webster, 2002. Retrieved 6 December 2016; Quote: "a large landmass smaller than a continent; especially: a major subdivision of a continent <the Indian subcontinent>"
  12. ^ Subcontinent, Oxford English Dictionaries (2012), Retrieved 6 December 2016; Quote: "A large distinguishable part of a continent..."
  13. ^ "subcontinent". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  14. ^ "Indian subcontinent". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  15. ^ McLeod, John (1 January 2002). "The History of India". Greenwood Publishing Group – via Google Books. 
  16. ^ Milton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 0-8226-0034-X
  17. ^ Akhilesh Pillalamarri, South Asia or India: An Old Debate Resurfaces in California, The Diplomat, 24 May 2016;
    Ahmed, Mukhtar (2014), Ancient Pakistan – An Archaeological History: Volume II: A Prelude to Civilization, Foursome, p. 14, ISBN 978-1-4959-4130-6 
  18. ^ John McLeod, The history of India, page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-313-31459-4
    Milton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 0-8226-0034-X
    Jim Norwine & Alfonso González, The Third World: states of mind and being, pages 209, Taylor & Francis, 1988, ISBN 0-04-910121-8
    Boniface, Brian G.; Christopher P. Cooper (2005). Worldwide destinations: the geography of travel and tourism. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-7506-5997-0. 
    Judith Schott & Alix Henley, Culture, Religion, and Childbearing in a Multiracial Society, pages 274, Elsevier Health Sciences, 1996, ISBN 0-7506-2050-1
    Raj S. Bhopal, Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies, pages 33, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-856817-7
    Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, Asian Power and Politics, pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-674-04979-9
    Mark Juergensmeyer, The Oxford handbook of global religions, pages 465, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0-19-513798-1
    Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia, pages 3, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-30787-2
  19. ^ a b c Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, Religions of South Asia: An Introduction, page 3, Routledge, 2006, ISBN 9781134593224
  20. ^ a b c Kathleen M. Baker and Graham P. Chapman, The Changing Geography of Asia, page 10, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 9781134933846
  21. ^ John McLeod, The history of India, page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-313-31459-4
    Milton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 0-8226-0034-X
    Jim Norwine & Alfonso González, The Third World: states of mind and being, pages 209, Taylor & Francis, 1988, ISBN 0-04-910121-8
    Boniface, Brian G.; Christopher P. Cooper (2005). Worldwide destinations: the geography of travel and tourism. Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 978-0-7506-5997-0. 
    Judith Schott & Alix Henley, Culture, Religion, and Childbearing in a Multiracial Society, pages 274, Elsevier Health Sciences, 1996, ISBN 0-7506-2050-1
    Raj S. Bhopal, Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies, pages 33, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-856817-7
    Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, Asian Power and Politics, pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-674-04979-9
    Mark Juergensmeyer, The Oxford handbook of global religions, pages 465, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0-19-513798-1
    Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia, pages 3, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-30787-2
    Shiv R. Jhawar, Building a Noble World, page 39, Noble World Foundation, 2004, ISBN 9780974919706
    Erika Lee and Judy Yung, Angel Island: Immigrant Gateway to America, page xxiii, Oxford University Press, 2010, ISBN 9780199752799
  22. ^ Judith Schott & Alix Henley, Culture, Religion, and Childbearing in a Multiracial Society, pages 274, Elsevier Health Sciences, 1996, ISBN 0750620501
  23. ^ Raj S. Bhopal, Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies, pages 33, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0198568177
  24. ^ Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia, pages 3, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0415307872
  25. ^ Ronald B. Inden, Imagining India, page 51, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1850655200
  26. ^ a b c Asher, Catherine B.; Talbot, Cynthia (2006-03-16), India Before Europe, Cambridge University Press, pp. 5–8, 12–14, 51, 78–80, ISBN 978-0-521-80904-7 
  27. ^ Lizzie Crouch and Paula McGrath, "Humanity's global battle with mosquitoes", Health check, BBC World Service
  28. ^ K. Alan Kronstadt, Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai, India, and Implications for U. S. Interests, page 7, Diane Publishing, 2011, ISBN 9781437929539
  29. ^ Aijazuddin Ahmad, Geography of the South Asian Subcontinent: A Critical Approach, page 17, Concept Publishing Company, 2009, ISBN 9788180695681
  30. ^ Ayesha Jalal, Partisans of Allah: Jihad in South Asia, page xiii, Harvard University Press, 2009, ISBN 9780674039070
  31. ^ John McLeod, The history of India, page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-313-31459-4
    Stephen Adolphe Wurm, Peter Mühlhäusler & Darrell T. Tryon, Atlas of languages of intercultural communication in the Pacific, Asia, and the Americas, pages 787, International Council for Philosophy and Humanistic Studies, Published by Walter de Gruyter, 1996, ISBN 3-11-013417-9
    Haggett, Peter (2001). Encyclopedia of World Geography (Vol. 1). Marshall Cavendish. p. 2710. ISBN 0-7614-7289-4. 
  32. ^ John R. Lukacs, The People of South Asia: the biological anthropology of India, Pakistan, and Nepal, page 59, Plenum Press, 1984, ISBN 9780306414077
  33. ^ Tatu Vanhanen, Prospects of Democracy: A Study of 172 Countries, page 144, Routledge, 1997, ISBN 9780415144063
  34. ^ Ira M. Lapidus (2014). A History of Islamic Societies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 269, 698–699. ISBN 978-0-521-51430-9. 
  35. ^ Louis D Hayes (2014). The Islamic State in the Post-Modern World: The Political Experience of Pakistan. Ashgate. pp. 55–56. ISBN 978-1-4724-1262-1. ;
    Robert Wuthnow (2013). The Encyclopedia of Politics and Religion. Routledge. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-1-136-28493-9. 
  36. ^ a b Hinsbergen, D. J. J. van; Lippert, P. C.; Dupont-Nivet, G.; McQuarrie, N.; Doubrovine; et al. (2012). "Greater India Basin hypothesis and a two-stage Cenozoic collision between India and Asia". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (20): 7659–7664, for geologic Indian subcontinent see Figure 1. doi:10.1073/pnas.1117262109. 
  37. ^ Bethany D. Rinard Hinga (2015). Ring of Fire: An Encyclopedia of the Pacific Rim's Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes. ABC-CLIO. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-1-61069-297-7. 
  38. ^ Alexander E. Gates; David Ritchie (2006). Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes. Infobase. pp. 116–118. ISBN 978-0-8160-7270-5. 
  39. ^ Dhavendra Kumar (2012). Genomics and Health in the Developing World. Oxford University Press. pp. 889–890. ISBN 978-0-19-537475-9. 
  40. ^ John McLeod, The history of India, page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-313-31459-4
  41. ^ "Asia" > Geologic history – Tectonic framework. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2009: "The paleotectonic evolution of Asia terminated some 50 million years ago as a result of the collision of the Indian subcontinent with Eurasia. Asia’s subsequent neotectonic development has largely disrupted the continents pre-existing fabric. The neotectonic units of Asia are Stable Asia, the Arabian and Indian cratons, the Alpide plate boundary zone (along which the Arabian and Indian platforms have collided with the Eurasian continental plate), and the island arcs and marginal basins."
  42. ^ John L. Esposito; Emad El-Din Shahin (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Islam and Politics. Oxford University Press. pp. 453–456. ISBN 978-0-19-063193-2. 
  43. ^ a b Desai, Praful B. 2002. Cancer control efforts in the Indian subcontinent. Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology. 32 (Supplement 1): S13-S16. "The Indian subcontinent in South Asia occupies 2.4% of the world land mass and is home to 16.5% of the world population...."
  44. ^ "Indian Subcontinent". Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Macmillan Reference USA (Gale Group), 2006: "The area is divided between five major nation-states, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and includes as well the two small nations of Bhutan and the Maldives Republic... The total area can be estimated at 4.4 million square kilometres, or exactly 10 percent of the land surface of Asia... In 2000, the total population was about 22 percent of the world's population and 34 percent of the population of Asia."
  45. ^ "Asia" > Overview. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 2009: "The Indian subcontinent is home to a vast diversity of peoples, most of whom speak languages from the Indo-Aryan subgroup of the Indo-European family."
  46. ^ "Indian Subcontinent". Encyclopedia of Modern Asia. Macmillan Reference USA (Gale Group), 2006: "The total area can be estimated at 4.4 million square kilometres, or exactly 10 percent of the land surface of Asia... In 2000, the total population was about 22 percent of the world's population and 34 percent of the population of Asia."