Indian subcontinent

Indian subcontinent

:"This article deals with the geophysical region in Asia. For geopolitical treatments, see South Asia."The Indian subcontinent is a large section of the Asian continent consisting of countries lying substantially on the Indian tectonic plate. The subcontinent includes parts of various countries in South Asia, including those on the continental crust (India, Pakistan east of the river Indus, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan), an island country on the continental shelf (Sri Lanka), and an island country rising above the oceanic crust (the Maldives).

The term subcontinent signifies "having a certain geographical or political independence" from the rest of the continent, [ "Oxford English Dictionary" 2nd edition. 1989. Oxford University Press.] or "a vast and more or less self-contained subdivision of a continent." ["Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged". 2002. Merriam-Webster. [ retrieved 11 March 2007.] ]

Nomenclature and usage

Although the term "Indian subcontinent" is often used "geographically", it is not entirely a geographical term. The approximately equivalent but more "geopolitical" term, South Asia or Southern Asia, however, sometimes includes territories found external (but proximal) to the Indian Plate—including Tibet and Myanmar (formerly Burma). The subcontinent is surrounded by three water bodies: the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.


Geographically, the Indian subcontinent is a peninsular region south of the Himalayas and Kuen Lun mountain ranges and east of the Indus River and the Iranian Plateau, extending southward into the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Sea (to the southwest) and the Bay of Bengal (to the southeast). It covers about 4,480,000 km² (1,729,738 mi²) or 10 percent of the Asian continent; however, it accounts for about 40 percent of Asia's population.

Geologically, most of this region is a subcontinent: it rests on a tectonic plate of its own, the Indian Plate (the northerly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate) separate from the rest of Eurasia, and was once a small continent before colliding with the Eurasian Plate and giving birth to the Himalayan range and the Tibetan plateau. Even now the Indian Plate continues to move northward resulting in increase in height of the Himalayas by a few centimeters each decade. On its western frontier, the Indian Plate forms a conservative boundary with the Eurasian Plate. In addition, it is also home to an astounding variety of geographical features, such as glaciers, rainforests, valleys, deserts, and grasslands that are typical of much larger continents.


The climate of the subcontinent is called the Monsoon climate. It is quite opposite of the Mediterranean climate. For the monsoon climate, the weather in this region remains humid during summer and dry during winter. Instead of four seasons, it basically has two main seasons, the wet and dry. The monsoon climate favors the cultivation of jute, tea, rice, and various vegetables in this region.South Asia's climate varies from tropical monsoon in the south to temperate in the north.

Geological history

In the Eocene period the Indian subcontinent was an island continent in the Indian Ocean. It was originally part of Gondwanaland. See Continental drift.


India is the dominant political power in the region. [ [ European Parliament Fact Sheets: The Countries of South Asia and the Indian Subcontinent] ] It is contributed by the fact that it is by far the largest country in the covering around three-fourths the land area of the subcontinent. [ [ Subcontinent] ] It also has the largest population of around three times the combined population of the 6 other countries in the subcontinent. [ [ Infoplease: Area and Population of Countries (mid-2006 estimates] ] India is also the most populous democracy in the world [ [ United Nations Population Division Department of Economic and Social Affairs] ] and is a nuclear power. Pakistan is the second largest country in the subcontinent with the second largest population and is also a nuclear power.

ee also

*South Asia
*Greater India
*History of South Asia
*Etymology of the names of India
*India (disambiguation)


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