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edit The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic and political organization of eight countries in Southern Asia. In terms of population, its sphere of influence is the largest of any regional organization: almost 1.5 billion people, the combined population of its member states. In 1980, Bangladesh President Ziaur Rahman proposed the creation of a trade bloc consisting of South Asian countries. The Bangladeshi proposal was accepted by India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka during a meeting held in Colombo in 1981. In August 1983, the leaders adopted the Declaration on South Asian Regional Cooperation during a summit which was held in New Delhi. The seven South Asian countries, which also included Nepal, Maldives and Bhutan, agreed on five areas of cooperation:

  • Agriculture and Rural Development
  • Telecommunications, Science, Technology and Meteorology
  • Health and Population Activities
  • Transport*
  • Human Resource Development

Afghanistan was added to the regional grouping at the behest of India on November 13, 2005, With the addition of Afghanistan, the total number of member states were raised to eight (8). The People's Republic of China, the European Union, the United States of America, South Korea, Iran, Myanmar, Australia, and Mauritius are observers to SAARC. (more)

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The Bombay Stock Exchange is the country's main stock exchange.

The economy of India is the fourth-largest in the world as measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), with a GDP of $3.3 trillion. When measured in USD exchange rates it is the tenth largest in the world, with a GDP of $691.8 billion. However India's huge population results in a relatively low per capita income ($3,100 at PPP). Services are the major source of economic growth in India today, though two-thirds of Indian workforce earn their livelihood directly or indirectly through agriculture. In recent times, India has also capitalised on its large number of highly-educated populace fluent in the English language to become a major exporter of software services, financial services and software engineers. For most of India's independent history, a socialist inspired approach was adhered to, with strict government control and regulation on private sector participation, foreign trade and foreign direct investment. Since the early 1990s, India has gradually opened up its markets through economic reforms by reducing government controls on foreign trade and investment. The socio-economic problems India faces are the burgeoning population, growing inequality, lack of infrastructure, growing unemployment and growing poverty. (more...)

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Gautama Buddha
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Male-total.jpg
Malé, capital city of the Republic of Maldives, located in the Kaafu Atoll.
Photo credit: Shahee
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Buddhas of Bamyan

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Flag of Sri Lanka

Emblem of Sri Lanka
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Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka (Sinhalese: Sri Lanka Sinhala.jpg, Tamil: இலங்கை; known as Ceylon before 1972) is an island nation in South Asia, located about 31 kilometers (18½ mi) off the southern coast of India. Originally known as Heladiva, it is home to around twenty million people.

Sri Lanka is a strategic naval link between West Asia and South East Asia and has been a centre of Buddhist religion and culture from ancient times. Today, Sri Lanka is a multi-religious and multi-ethnic nation, with a fifth of the population following faiths other than Buddhism - notably Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. The Sinhalese community forms the majority of the population (around 80%), with Tamils, who are mostly concentrated in the north and east of the island, forming the largest ethnic minority. Other communities include the Muslim Moors and Malays as well as Burghers.

Famous for the production and export of tea, coffee, rubber and coconuts, Sri Lanka boasts a progressive and modern industrial economy. The natural beauty of Sri Lanka's tropical forests, beaches and landscape, as well as its rich cultural heritage make it a world famous tourist destination.

After over two thousand years of rule by local kingdoms, parts of Sri Lanka were colonized by Portugal and the Netherlands beginning in the 16th century, before the control of the entire country was ceded to the British Empire in 1815. During World War II Sri Lanka served as an important base for Allied forces in the fight against the Japanese Empire. A nationalist political movement arose in the country in the early 20th century, with the aim of obtaining political independence, which was eventually granted by the British after peaceful negotiations in 1948. Since then Sri Lanka has struggled in maintaining a liberal democracy and stunted economic progress due to the ongoing conflict between the Sri Lankan government and a separatist militant group known as the Tamil Tigers in the northeastern parts of the country.

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Administrative divisions of Bangladesh

This labeled map of Bangladesh shows two levels of administrative divisions - divisions and districts.

Map credit: Arman Aziz

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Jinnah in 1945

ssssssssssssssssssssssssssssMuhammad Ali Jinnah (Urdu: About this sound محمد على جناح ) (December 25, 1876 – September 11, 1948) was an Indian Muslim politician and leader of the All India Muslim League who founded Pakistan and served as its first Governor-General. He is officially known in Pakistan as Quaid-e-Azam (Urdu: قائد اعظم — "Great Leader") and Baba-e-Qaum ("Father of the Nation.") His birth and death anniversaries are national holidays in Pakistan.

Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress expounding ideas of Hindu-Muslim unity and helping shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact with the Muslim League; he also became a key leader in the All India Home Rule League. Differences with Mohandas Gandhi led Jinnah to quit the Congress and take charge of the Muslim League. He proposed a fourteen-point constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslims in a self-governing India. His proposals failed amid the League's disunity, driving a disillusioned Jinnah to live in London for many years.

Several Muslim leaders persuaded Jinnah to return to India in 1934 and re-organise the League. Tempered by the failure to build coalitions with the Congress, Jinnah embraced the goal of creating a separate state for Muslims as in the Lahore Resolution. The League won most Muslim seats in the elections of 1946, and Jinnah launched the Direct Action campaign of strikes and protests to achieve "Pakistan", which degenerated into communal violence across India. The failure of the Congress-League coalition to govern the country prompted both parties and the British to agree to partition. As Governor-General of Pakistan, Jinnah led efforts to rehabilitate millions of refugees, and to frame national policies on foreign affairs, security and economic development. (more...)

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عربى (Arabic) • অসমিয়া (Assamese) • भोजपुरी (Bhojpuri) • বাংলা (Bengali) • ইমার ঠার/বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী (Bishnupriya Manipuri) • މަހަލް (Dhivehi) • ગુજરાતી (Gujarati) • हिन्दी (Hindi) • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada) • کٲشُر (Kashmiri) • मैथिली (Maithili) • മലയാളം (Malayalam) • मराठी (Marathi) • नेपाली (Nepali) • ଓଡ଼ିଆ (Odia) • پښتو (Pashto) • فارسی (Persian) • ਪੰਜਾਬੀ (Punjabi) • संस्कृत (Sanskrit) • سنڌي (Sindhi) • සිංහල (Sinhala) • தமிழ் (Tamil) • తెలుగు (Telugu) • پنجابی (Western Punjabi) • اردو (Urdu)

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View over Kathmandu
Kathmandu (Nepali: काठमाडौं, काठमान्डु, Nepal Bhasa: यें) is the capital city of Nepal and it is also the largest city in Nepal. The original inhabitants of Kathmandu are called Newars, who speak Nepal Bhasa, which is the language of communication between Newars, and is spoken by other ethnic communities residing in Kathmandu. It stands at an elevation of approximately 1,300m (4,265 ft). It is an urban and suburban area of about 1.5 million inhabitants in the tri-city area in the Kathmandu Valley in central Nepal, along the Bagmati River. The two other cities are Patan) and Bhaktapur. Kathmandu is located at 27°43′N 85°22′E / 27.717°N 85.367°E / 27.717; 85.367.

The Kathmandu Valley may have been inhabited as early as 900 BC, but the oldest known objects in the valley date to a few hundred years BC. The earliest known inscription is dated 185 AD. The oldest firmly dated building in the earthquake-prone valley is almost 1,000 years old. The Kirats are the first documented rulers of the Kathmandu Valley, the remains of their palace are said to be in Patan near Hiranyavarna Mahavihara (called "Patukodon"). The Licchavi Dynasty whose earliest inscriptions date back to 464 AD were the next rulers of the valley and had close ties with the Gupta Dynasty of India. The Malla Dynasty consisted of Newar rulers, who ruled Kathmandu Valley and the surrounding area from the 12th century till the 17th century when the Shah Dynasty under Prithvi Narayan Shah conquered the valley as he created present-day Nepal. Most of ancient Nepalese architecture present in Nepal today is from the Malla/Newar era. (more)

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