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South Asia or Southern Asia, is a term used to represent the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan SAARC countries and, for some authorities, adjoining countries to the west and east. Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate, which rises above sea level as Nepal and northern parts of India situated south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. South Asia is bounded on the south by the Indian Ocean and on land (clockwise, from west) by West Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

South Asia covers about 5.2 million km2 (2 million mi2), which is 11.71% of the Asian continent or 3.5% of the world's land surface area. The population of South Asia is about 1.891 billion or about one fourth of the world's population, making it both the most populous and the most densely populated geographical region in the world. Overall, it accounts for about 39.49% of Asia's population, over 24% of the world's population, and is home to a vast array of people.

In 2010, South Asia had the world's largest population of Hindus, Jains and Sikhs. It also has the largest population of Muslims in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as over 35 million Christians and 25 million Buddhists.

The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is the regional intergovernmental organization and geopolitical union of nations in South Asia. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. SAARC comprises 3% of the world's area, 21% of the world's population and 3.8% (US$2.9 trillion) of the global economy, as of 2015.

SAARC was founded in Dhaka on 8 December 1985. Its secretariat is based in Kathmandu, Nepal. The organization promotes development of economic and regional integration. It launched the South Asian Free Trade Area in 2006. SAARC maintains permanent diplomatic relations at the United Nations as an observer and has developed links with multilateral entities, including the European Union. (more)

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Geopolitical map of Kashmir provided by the United States CIA, c. 2004

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1965 was a culmination of skirmishes that took place between April 1965 and September 1965 between Pakistan and India. The conflict began following Pakistan's Operation Gibraltar, which was designed to infiltrate forces into Jammu and Kashmir to precipitate an insurgency against Indian rule. India retaliated by launching a full-scale military attack on West Pakistan. The seventeen-day war caused thousands of casualties on both sides and witnessed the largest engagement of armored vehicles and the largest tank battle since World War II. Hostilities between the two countries ended after a United Nations-mandated ceasefire was declared following diplomatic intervention by the Soviet Union and the United States, and the subsequent issuance of the Tashkent Declaration. Much of the war was fought by the countries' land forces in Kashmir and along the border between India and Pakistan. This war saw the largest amassing of troops in Kashmir since the Partition of British India in 1947, a number that was overshadowed only during the 2001–2002 military standoff between India and Pakistan. Most of the battles were fought by opposing infantry and armoured units, with substantial backing from air forces, and naval operations. Many details of this war, like those of other Indo-Pakistani Wars, remain unclear.

India had the upper hand over Pakistan when the ceasefire was declared. Although the two countries fought to a standoff, the conflict is seen as a strategic and political defeat for Pakistan, as it had neither succeeded in fomenting insurrection in Kashmir nor had it been able to gain meaningful support at an international level.

Internationally, the war was viewed in the context of the greater Cold War, and resulted in a significant geopolitical shift in the subcontinent. Before the war, the United States and the United Kingdom had been major material allies of both India and Pakistan, as their primary suppliers of military hardware and foreign developmental aid. During and after the conflict, both India and Pakistan felt betrayed by the perceived lack of support by the western powers for their respective positions; those feelings of betrayal were increased with the imposition of an American and British embargo on military aid to the opposing sides. As a consequence, India and Pakistan openly developed closer relationships with the Soviet Union and China, respectively. The perceived negative stance of the western powers during the conflict, and during the 1971 war, has continued to affect relations between the West and the subcontinent. In spite of improved relations with the U.S. and Britain since the end of the Cold War, the conflict generated a deep distrust of both countries within the subcontinent which to an extent lingers to this day. (More...)

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Gautama Buddha

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The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal in Agra, India, was commissioned by the 17th century Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, as a mausoleum for his Persian wife, Mumtaz Mahal. Built over a period of 23 years, it is a masterpiece of Mughal architecture, featuring the finest materials from all over India and Asia. Its gleaming facade is clad in white marble from Rajasthan and inlaid with 28 types of precious and semi-precious stones.

Photo credit: Sandeep Dhirad

South Asia News

21 March 2019 – War in Afghanistan
Six people are killed and 23 others wounded in three bomb explosions during Nowruz celebration in Kabul, Afghanistan. (BBC)
15 March 2019 – United States and the International Criminal Court, United States war crimes, War crimes in Afghanistan
United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo bars the entry of International Criminal Court investigators into the United States as part of the ICC's investigation into possible war crimes committed by the United States military in Afghanistan. (Associated Press)
12 March 2019 – Boeing 737 MAX groundings
The European Union, Australia, India, Malaysia, Singapore, and Turkey ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets. This means 40% of the global fleet is now grounded, with Indonesia, China and several airlines grounding their aircraft yesterday. Boeing states they will issue a software update for the model within weeks. (The Guardian) (BNO) (AFP)
9 March 2019 – 2018–19 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season
The floods from the predecessor of Cyclone Idai cause 23 deaths and 11 missing in southern Malawi. (The Maravi Post)
2 March 2019 – 2019 India–Pakistan standoff
Indian and Pakistani soldiers target each other’s posts and villages in Kashmir, killing at least six civilians and two Pakistani troops. (Associated Press)
1 March 2019 – Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
Bangladesh's Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque tells the United Nations Security Council that his country will no longer accept Rohingya refugees fleeing violence across the border in Rakhine State, and accuses Myanmar of "hollow promises" regarding repatriation. (BBC)

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Flag of Pakistan
Emblem of Pakistan
Location on the world map

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan (Urdu: اسلامی جمہوریۂ پاکستان, islāmī jamhūriya i pākistān), or Pakistan (Urdu: پاکستان, pākistān), is a country located in South Asia. Its strategic location at a crossroads of political and religious ideologies has kept it at the forefront of world events. Its culture and history have been enriched by the countless invaders, traders, and settlers who have been a part of the region’s past. The country borders India, Afghanistan, Iran (Persia), China and the Arabian Sea. With around 178 million inhabitants, it is the sixth most populous country, the second most populous Muslim-majority nation. It is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the OIC.

The area of Pakistan has a long history of settlement and civilisation that includes some of the most ancient cultures. The region was invaded by Mongols, Greeks, Persians, Arabs, and Turks before being invaded by the British Raj in the Eighteenth century. Pakistan became independent on 14 August 1947 as one of two successor states to British India. (The other successor state was the Union of India, which became the Republic of India in 1950.) Following independence, Pakistan has seen repeated military coups, the loss of East Pakistan in 1971, widespread Islamic fundamentalism and significant military and economic growth, with the second-fastest growing economy amongst the ten most populous countries in the world in 2005 and the twenty-seventh largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity. Pakistan has the seventh largest armed forces in the world and is one of eight declared nuclear weapons states.


"The National Anthem"
Qaumī Tarānah
قَومی ترانہ

At a glance

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The Islamic Centre, housing the mosque Masjid-al-Sultan

  • ...that the king of Bhutan lifted a ban on television and the Internet in 1999, making Bhutan one of the last countries to introduce television?

Selected Biography

Emperor Akbar the Great.jpg

Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar ابو الفتح جلال الدين محمد اكبر (15 October 1542– 27 October 1605), popularly known as Akbar I (IPA: [əkbər]), also as Akbar the Great (Akbar-i-azam اکبر اعظم), was the third Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1556 to 1605. Akbar succeeded his father, Humayun, under a regent, Bairam Khan, who helped the young emperor expand and consolidate Mughal domains in India. A strong personality and a successful general, Akbar gradually enlarged the Mughal Empire to include nearly all of the Indian Subcontinent north of the Godavari river. His power and influence, however, extended over the entire country because of Mughal military, political, cultural, and economic dominance. To unify the vast Mughal state, Akbar established a centralised system of administration throughout his empire and adopted a policy of conciliating conquered rulers through marriage and diplomacy. To preserve peace and order in a religiously and culturally diverse empire, he adopted policies that won him the support of his non-Muslim subjects. Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic state identity, Akbar strove to unite far-flung lands of his realm through loyalty, expressed through an Indo-Persian culture, to himself as an emperor who had near-divine status.

Mughal India developed a strong and stable economy, leading to commercial expansion and greater patronage of culture. Akbar himself was a patron of art and culture. He was fond of literature, and created a library of over 24,000 volumes written in Sanskrit, Urdu, Persian, Greek, Latin, Arabic and Kashmiri, staffed by many scholars, translators, artists, calligraphers, scribes, bookbinders and readers. He did much of the cataloging himself through three main groupings. Akbar also established the library of Fatehpur Sikri exclusively for women, and he decreed that schools for the education of both Muslims and Hindus should be established throughout the realm. He also encouraged bookbinding to become a high art. Holy men of many faiths, poets, architects, and artisans adorned his court from all over the world for study and discussion. Akbar's courts at Delhi, Agra, and Fatehpur Sikri became centres of the arts, letters, and learning. Perso-Islamic culture began to merge and blend with indigenous Indian elements, and a distinct Indo-Persian culture emerged characterized by Mughal style arts, painting, and architecture. Disillusioned with orthodox Islam and perhaps hoping to bring about religious unity within his empire, Akbar promulgated Din-i-Ilahi, a syncretic creed derived mainly from Islam and Hinduism as well as some parts of Zoroastrianism and Christianity. A simple, monotheistic cult, tolerant in outlook, it centered on Akbar as a prophet, for which he drew the ire of the ulema and orthodox Muslims. Many of his courtiers followed Din-i-Ilahi as their religion as well, as many believed that Akbar was a prophet. One famous courtier who followed this blended religion was Birbal.

Akbar's reign significantly influenced the course of Indian history. During his rule, the Mughal empire tripled in size and wealth. He created a powerful military system and instituted effective political and social reforms. By abolishing the sectarian tax on non-Muslims and appointing them to high civil and military posts, he was the first Mughal ruler to win the trust and loyalty of the native subjects. He had Sanskrit literature translated, participated in native festivals, realising that a stable empire depended on the co-operation and good-will of his subjects. Thus, the foundations for a multicultural empire under Mughal rule were laid during his reign. Akbar was succeeded as emperor by his son, Prince Salim, later known as Jahangir. (More...)

Wikipedia in South Asian Languages

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)

Selected Destination

Montage of Kabul City.png

Kabul (Persian: کابل‎, translit. Kābol, Pashto: کابل‎, translit. Kābəl) is the capital and largest city of Afghanistan, located in the eastern section of the country. It is also a municipality, forming part of the greater Kabul Province. According to estimates in 2015, the population of Kabul is 4.635 million, which includes all the major ethnic groups of Afghanistan. Rapid urbanization had made Kabul the world's 75th largest city.

Kabul is located high up in a narrow valley between the Hindu Kush mountains, with an elevation of 1,790 metres (5,873 ft) making it one of the highest capitals in the world. The city is said to be over 3,500 years old, mentioned since at least the time of the Achaemenid Empire. It is at a strategic location along the trade routes of South and Central Asia, and a key location of the ancient Silk Road. It has been part of the Achaemenids followed by the Seleucids, Greco Bactrians, Indo Greeks, Kushans, Kabul Shahis, Saffarids, Samanids, Ghaznavids, Ghurids, Khwarazmians, Qarlughids, Khaljis, Timurids, Mughals, and Hotaks, until finally becoming part of the Durrani Empire (also known as the "Afghan Empire") in 1747. Kabul became the capital of Afghan Empire in 1776, during the reign of Timur Shah Durrani, the son of Ahmad Shah Durrani.

In the early 19th century, the British occupied the city but after establishing foreign relations they were compelled to withdraw all forces from Afghanistan. The city was occupied by the Soviets in 1979 but they too abandoned it after the 1988 Geneva Accords were signed. A civil war in the 1990s between various rebel groups destroyed much of the city, resulting in many casualties.

Kabul is known for its gardens, bazaars, and palaces. It was also formerly a mecca for young western hippies. Since the removal of the Taliban from power in late 2001, the city began rebuilding itself with assistance from the international community. Despite the many terrorist attacks by anti-state elements, the city is developing and was the fifth fastest-growing city in the world as of 2012. The city is divided into 22 districts. (More...)

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