3,287,263 sq km (1,269,219 sq miles).
1,210,193,422 residents reported in the 2011 provisional census.
New Delhi, 22 million (2012).
India shares borders to the northwest with Pakistan, to the north with China, Nepal and Bhutan, and to the east with Bangladesh and Myanmar. To the west lies the Arabian Sea, to the east the Bay of Bengal and to the south the Indian Ocean. Sri Lanka lies off the southeast coast, and the Maldives off the southwest coast. The far northeastern states and territories are all but separated from the rest of India by Bangladesh as it extends northwards from the Bay of Bengal towards Bhutan.
The official language is Hindi which is spoken by about 30 per cent of the population; English is also often used for official or commercial purposes. In addition, 17 regional languages are recognised by the Constitution. These include Punjabi, Bengali, Gujerati and Oriya which are widely used in the north and Tamil and Telegu which are common in the south. Other regional languages are Marathi, Kannada and Malayalam. The Muslim population largely speak Urdu.
80 per cent Hindu, 11 per cent Muslim with Sikh, Christian and Buddhist minorities.
Usually 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Some areas have a DC supply. Plugs used are of the round two- and three-pin type.
IDD service is widely available all over India. Otherwise calls must be placed through the international operator. Country code: 91. Outgoing international code: 00.
GSM 900 networks. Network operators include SkyCell (website: www.skycell-india.com), Spice Cell (website: www.spicecell.com), BPL Cellular Ltd (website: www.mizone1.bplmobile.com) and Bharti Cellular Ltd (website: www.airtelworld.com). Coverage is limited to major towns.
Facilities are available in most 5-star hotels and some offices of the Overseas Communication Service in large cities.
ISPs include VSLnet (website: www.vsnl.net.in), and Narmada (website: www.narmada.net.in). E-mail can be accessed from cybercafés across the country.
Airmail service to Western Europe takes up to a week. Stamps are often sold at hotels.
There are numerous local dailies published in several languages. Many newspapers are in English, the most important include The Times of India, Indian Express, The Hindu, Hindustan Times, The National Herald, The Economic Times and The Statesman.