South Asia
   HOME

TheInfoList



OR:

South Asia is the southern
subregion
subregion
of
Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical regions, which is either considered a continent in its own right or a subcontinent of Eurasia, which shares the continental landmass of Afro-Eurasia with Africa Africa is ...

Asia
, which is defined in both
geographical
geographical
and
ethno-cultural
ethno-cultural
terms. The region consists of the countries of
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordere ...

Afghanistan
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 165 million pe ...

Bangladesh
,
Bhutan
Bhutan
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
,
Maldives
Maldives
,
Nepal Nepal (; ne, :ne:नेपाल, नेपाल ), formerly the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in S ...

Nepal
,
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...

Pakistan
, and
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...

Sri Lanka
.;
;
;
;
;
;
;
;
Topographically, it is dominated by the
Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent
and defined largely by the Indian Ocean on the south, and the
Himalayas
Himalayas
,
Karakoram
Karakoram
, and
Pamir
Pamir
mountains on the north. The Amu Darya, which rises north of the
Hindu Kush
Hindu Kush
, forms part of the northwestern border. On land (clockwise), South Asia is bounded by Western Asia, Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) is an economic cooperation organization in the region which was established in 1985 and includes all eight nations comprising South Asia. South Asia covers about , 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 1.9 billion or about one-fourth of the world's population, making it both the most populous and the geographical region in the world. In 2010, South Asia had the world's largest populations of Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, , and Zoroastrians. South Asia alone accounts for 98.47% of Hindus, 90.5% of Sikhs, and 31% of Muslims worldwide, as well as 35 million and 25 million .


Definition

Modern definitions of South Asia are consistent in including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka as the constituent countries. Afghanistan is, however, considered by some to be a part of , , or the .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."
After the Second Anglo-Afghan War, it was a British protectorate until 1919. On the other hand,
Myanmar Myanmar, ; UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, Joh ...

Myanmar
(Burma), administered as a part of the between 1886 and 1937 and now largely considered a part of Southeast Asia as a member state of , is also sometimes included. But the , British Somaliland and Singapore, though administered at various times under the British Raj, have never been proposed as any part of South Asia. The region may also include the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which was part of the British Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, now administered as part of the Chinese autonomous region of
Xinjiang Xinjiang, SASM/GNC: ''Xinjang''; zh, c=, p=Xīnjiāng; formerly romanized as Sinkiang (, ), officially the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR), is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China (PRC), located in the northwest ...

Xinjiang
but also claimed by India. The geographical extent is not clear cut as systemic and foreign policy orientations of its constituents are quite asymmetrical. Beyond the core territories of the British Raj or the British Indian Empire, there is a high degree of variation as to which other countries are included in South Asia., 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". There is no clear boundary – geographical, geopolitical, socio-cultural, economical or historical – between South Asia and other parts of Asia, especially the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The common definition of South Asia is largely inherited from the administrative boundaries of the British Raj, with several exceptions. The current territories of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan which were the core territories of the from 1857 to 1947 also form the core territories of South Asia. The mountain countries of Nepal and Bhutan, two independent countries that were not part of the British Raj, and the island countries of Sri Lanka and Maldives are generally included. By various definitions based on substantially different reasons, the and the
Tibet Autonomous Region The Tibet Autonomous Region or Xizang Autonomous Region, often shortened to Tibet or Xizang, is a Provinces of China, province-level Autonomous regions of China, autonomous region of the China, People's Republic of China in Southwest China. I ...
are included as well. The 562 princely states that were protected by but not directly ruled by the British Raj became administrative parts of South Asia upon joining
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
or
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...
. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), a contiguous block of countries, started in 1985 with seven countriesBangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lankaand admitted
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordere ...

Afghanistan
as an eighth member in 2007. China and Myanmar have also applied for the status of full members of SAARC. The South Asia Free Trade Agreement admitted Afghanistan in 2011. The World Bank and United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) recognizes the eight SAARC countries as South Asia, The Hirschman–Herfindahl index of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific for the region excludes Afghanistan from South Asia. Population Information Network (POPIN) excludes Maldives which is included as a member Pacific POPIN subregional network. The United Nations Statistics Division's , for statistical purpose, includes
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...

Iran
along with all eight members of the SAARC as part of Southern Asia. The boundaries of South Asia vary based on how the region is defined. South Asia's northern, eastern, and western boundaries vary based on definitions used, while the Indian Ocean is the southern periphery. Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by mountain barriers. Much of the region consists of a in south-central Asia, rather resembling a diamond which is delineated by the Himalayas on the north, the in the west, and the Arakanese in the east, and which extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the to the southeast. The terms "" and "South Asia" are sometimes used interchangeably."Indian subcontinent". '' New Oxford Dictionary of English'' () 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 divided between India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh." The Indian subcontinent is largely a geological term referring to the land mass that drifted northeastwards from ancient , colliding with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Palaeocene. This geological region largely includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. 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. The use of the term Indian subcontinent began in the British Empire, and has been a term particularly common in its successors.John McLeod,
The history of India
'', page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002,
Milton Walter Meyer, ''South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent'', pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976,
Jim Norwine & Alfonso González, ''The Third World: states of mind and being'', pages 209, Taylor & Francis, 1988,

Judith Schott & Alix Henley, ''Culture, Religion, and Childbearing in a Multiracial Society'', pages 274, Elsevier Health Sciences, 1996,
Raj S. Bhopal, ''Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies'', pages 33, Oxford University Press, 2007,
Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, ''Asian Power and Politics'', pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985,
Mark Juergensmeyer, ''The Oxford handbook of global religions'', pages 465, Oxford University Press US, 2006,
Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, ''Modern South Asia'', pages 3, Routledge, 2004,
South Asia as the preferred term is particularly common when scholars or officials seek to differentiate this region from East Asia.Ronald B. Inden, ''Imagining India'', page 51, C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000, , Quote:"It is very common today in academic and official circles to speak of the Indian subcontinent as 'South Asia', thereby distinguishing it from an 'East Asia'." 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."Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, ''Modern South Asia'', pages 3, Routledge, 2004, , Quote:"Indian subcontinentor South Asiaas it has come to be known in more recent and neutral parlance" This "neutral" notion refers to the concerns of Pakistan and Bangladesh, particularly given the recurring conflicts between India and Pakistan, wherein the dominant placement of "India" as a prefix before the subcontinent might offend some political sentiments. However, in Pakistan, the term "South Asia" is considered too India-centric and was banned until 1989 after the death of Zia ul Haq. This region has also been labelled as "India" (in its classical and pre-modern sense) and "Greater India".Sushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, ''Religions of South Asia: An Introduction'', page 3, Routledge, 2006, Kathleen M. Baker and Graham P. Chapman, ''The Changing Geography of Asia'', page 10, Routledge, 2002, According to Robert M. Cutler – a scholar of Political Science at Carleton University, the terms South Asia, Southwest Asia, and Central Asia are distinct, but the confusion and disagreements have arisen due to the geopolitical movement to enlarge these regions into Greater South Asia, Greater Southwest Asia, and Greater Central Asia. The frontier of Greater South Asia, states Cutler, between 2001 and 2006 has been geopolitically extended to eastern Iran and western Afghanistan in the west, and in the north to northeastern Iran, northern Afghanistan, and southern . Identification with a South Asian identity was found to be significantly low among respondents in an older two-year survey across Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.


History


Pre-history

The history of core South Asia begins with evidence of human activity of '' Homo sapiens,'' as long as 75,000 years ago, or with earlier hominids including '''' from about 500,000 years ago. The earliest prehistoric culture have roots in the mesolithic sites as evidenced by the rock paintings of dating to a period of 30,000 BCE or older, as well as neolithic times.


Ancient era

The Indus Valley civilization, which spread and flourished in the northwestern part of South Asia from c. 3300 to 1300 BCE in present-day Northern India, Pakistan and
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordere ...

Afghanistan
, was the first major civilization in South Asia. A sophisticated and technologically advanced urban culture developed in the Mature Harappan period, from 2600 to 1900 BCE. According to anthropologist Possehl, the Indus Valley civilization provides a logical, if somewhat arbitrary, starting point for South Asian religions, but these links from the Indus religion to later-day South Asian traditions are subject to scholarly dispute. The Vedic period, named after the Vedic religion of the Indo-Aryans, lasted from c. 1900 to 500 BCE. The Indo-Aryans were Indo-European pastoralists who migrated into north-western India after the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization, Linguistic and archaeological data show a cultural change after 1500 BCE, with the linguistic and religious data clearly showing links with Indo-European languages and religion. By about 1200 BCE, the Vedic culture and agrarian lifestyle was established in the northwest and northern Gangetic plain of South Asia. Rudimentary state-forms appeared, of which the Kuru-Pañcāla union was the most influential. The first recorded state-level society in South Asia existed around 1000 BCE. In this period, states Samuel, emerged the Brahmana and Aranyaka layers of Vedic texts, which merged into the earliest Upanishads. These texts began to ask the meaning of a ritual, adding increasing levels of philosophical and metaphysical speculation, or "Hindu synthesis". Increasing urbanisation of India between 800 and 400 BCE, and possibly the spread of urban diseases, contributed to the rise of ascetic movements and of new ideas which challenged the orthodox Brahmanism. These ideas led to Sramana movements, of which Mahavira (c. 549–477 BCE), proponent of
Jainism Jainism ( ), also known as Jain Dharma, is an Indian religions, Indian religion. Jainism traces its spiritual ideas and history through the succession of twenty-four tirthankaras (supreme preachers of ''Dharma''), with the first in the current ...
, and
Buddha Siddhartha Gautama, most commonly referred to as the Buddha, was a śramaṇa, wandering ascetic and religious teacher who lived in South Asia during the 6th or 5th century BCE and founded Buddhism. According to Buddhist tradition, he was ...
(c. 563–483), founder of
Buddhism Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based on Pre-sectarian Buddhism, teachings attributed to the Buddha. ...
, were the most prominent icons. The Greek army led by
Alexander the Great Alexander III of Macedon ( grc, wikt:Ἀλέξανδρος, Ἀλέξανδρος, Alexandros; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a king of the Ancient Greece, ancient Greek kingdom of Maced ...
stayed in the region of South Asia for several years and then later moved into the Indus valley region. Later, the
Maurya Empire The Maurya Empire, or the Mauryan Empire, was a geographically extensive Iron Age list of ancient great powers, historical power in the Indian subcontinent based in Magadha, having been founded by Chandragupta Maurya in 322 BCE, and existing ...
extended over much of South Asia in the 3rd century BCE. Buddhism spread beyond south Asia, through northwest into Central Asia. The
Bamiyan Buddhas The Buddhas of Bamiyan (or Bamyan) were two 6th-century monumental statues carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamyan valley of Hazarajat region in central Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; pr ...
of Afghanistan and the edicts of Aśoka suggest that the Buddhist monks spread Buddhism (Dharma) in eastern provinces of the
Seleucid Empire The Seleucid Empire (; grc, Βασιλεία τῶν Σελευκιδῶν, ''Basileía tōn Seleukidōn'') was a Ancient Greece, Greek state in West Asia that existed during the Hellenistic period from 312 BC to 63 BC. The Seleucid Empire was ...
, and possibly even farther into Western Asia. The Theravada school spread south from India in the 3rd century BCE, to Sri Lanka, later to Southeast Asia. Buddhism, by the last centuries of the 1st millennium BCE, was prominent in the Himalayan region, Gandhara, Hindu Kush region and Bactria.Deborah Klimburg-Salter (1989), The Kingdom of Bamiyan: Buddhist art and culture of the Hindu Kush, Naples – Rome: Istituto Universitario Orientale & Istituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, (Reprinted by Shambala) From about 500 BCE through about 300 CE, the Vedic-Brahmanic synthesis or "Hindu synthesis" continued. Classical Hindu and Sramanic (particularly Buddhist) ideas spread within South Asia, as well outside South Asia. The
Gupta Empire The Gupta Empire was an Outline of ancient India, ancient Indian empire which existed from the early 4th century CE to late 6th century CE. At its zenith, from approximately 319 to 467 CE, it covered much of the Indian subcontinent. This period ...
ruled over a large part of the region between 4th and 7th centuries, a period that saw the construction of major temples, monasteries and universities such as the
Nalanda Nalanda (, ) was a renowned ''mahavihara'' (Buddhism, Buddhist monastic university) in ancient Magadha (modern-day Bihar), India.Ajanta Caves, Badami cave temples and
Ellora Caves Ellora is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, Aurangabad district of Maharashtra, India. It is one of the largest rock-cut Hindu temple cave complexes in the world, with artwork dating from the period 60 ...
were built in South Asia.


Medieval era

Islam came as a political power in the fringe of South Asia in 8th century CE when the Arab general
Muhammad bin Qasim Muḥammad ibn al-Qāsim al-Thaqāfī ( ar, محمد بن القاسم الثقفي; –) was an Arabs, Arab military commander in service of the Umayyad Caliphate who led the Muslim conquest of Sindh (part of modern Pakistan), inaugurating the ...
conquered
Sindh Sindh (; ; ur, , ; historically romanized as Sind) is one of the Administrative units of Pakistan, four provinces of Pakistan. Located in the Geography of Pakistan, southeastern region of the country, Sindh is the third-largest province of ...
, and
Multan Multan (; ) is a city in Punjab, Pakistan, on the bank of the Chenab River. Multan is Pakistan's seventh largest city as per the 2017 census, and the major cultural, religious and economic centre of southern Punjab. Multan is one of the List ...
in Southern Punjab, in modern-day Pakistan. By 962 CE, Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in South Asia were under a wave of raids from Muslim armies from Central Asia.See: * M. Reza Pirbha, Reconsidering Islam in a South Asian Context, , Brill * The Islamic frontier in the east: Expansion into South Asia, Journal of South Asian Studies, 4(1), pp. 91–109 * Sookoohy M., Bhadreswar – Oldest Islamic Monuments in India, , Brill Academic; see discussion of earliest raids in Gujarat Among them was
Mahmud of Ghazni Yamīn-ud-Dawla Abul-Qāṣim Maḥmūd ibn Sebüktegīn ( fa, ; 2 November 971 – 30 April 1030), usually known as Mahmud of Ghazni or Mahmud Ghaznavi ( fa, ), was the founder of the Turkic peoples, Turkic Ghaznavid dynasty, ruling from 998 ...
, who raided and plundered kingdoms in north India from east of the Indus river to west of Yamuna river seventeen times between 997 and 1030. Mahmud of Ghazni raided the treasuries but retracted each time, only extending Islamic rule into western Punjab. The wave of raids on north Indian and western Indian kingdoms by Muslim warlords continued after Mahmud of Ghazni, plundering and looting these kingdoms. The raids did not establish or extend permanent boundaries of their Islamic kingdoms. The Ghurid Sultan Mu'izz al-Din Muhammad began a systematic war of expansion into North India in 1173. He sought to carve out a principality for himself by expanding the Islamic world. Mu'izz sought a
Sunni Islam Sunni Islam () is the largest Islamic schools and branches, branch of Islam, followed by 85–90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word ''Sunnah'', referring to the tradition of Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia ...
ic kingdom of his own extending east of the Indus river, and he thus laid the foundation for the Muslim kingdom that became the
Delhi Sultanate The Delhi Sultanate was an Islamic empire based in Delhi that stretched over large parts of the Indian subcontinent for 320 years (1206–1526).
.Peter Jackson (2003), The Delhi Sultanate: A Political and Military History, Cambridge University Press, , pp 3–30 Some historians chronicle the Delhi Sultanate from 1192 due to the presence and geographical claims of Mu'izz al-Din in South Asia by that time. The Delhi Sultanate covered varying parts of South Asia and was ruled by a series of dynasties, called Mamluk, Khalji, Tughlaq, Sayyid and Lodi dynasties. Muhammad bin Tughlaq came to power in 1325, launched a war of expansion and the Delhi Sultanate reached it largest geographical reach over the South Asian region during his 26-year rule.Muḥammad ibn Tughluq
Encyclopædia Britannica
A Sunni Sultan, Muhammad bin Tughlaq persecuted non-Muslims such as Hindus, as well as non-Sunni Muslims such as Shia and Mahdi sects.Vincent A Smith, , Chapter 2, pp. 249–251, Oxford University Press Revolts against the Delhi Sultanate sprang up in many parts of South Asia during the 14th century. After the death of Muhammad bin Tughlaq, the Bengal Sultanate came to power in 1352 CE, as the Delhi Sultanate began disintegrating. The Bengal Sultanate remained in power through the early 16th century. It was reconquered by the armies of the Mughal Empire. The state religion of the Bengal Sultanate was Islam, and the region under its rule, a region that ultimately emerged as the modern nation of Bangladesh, saw a growth of a syncretic form of Islam. In the Deccan region, the Hindu kingdom
Vijayanagara Empire The Vijayanagara Empire, also called the Karnata Kingdom, was a Hindu empire based in the region of South India South India, also known as Dakshina Bharata or Peninsular India, consists of the peninsular southern part of India. It enc ...
came to power in 1336 and remained in power through the 16th century, after which it too was reconquered and absorbed into the Mughal Empire. About 1526, the Punjab governor Dawlat Khan Lodī reached out to the Mughal
Babur Babur ( fa, , lit= tiger, translit= Bābur; ; 14 February 148326 December 1530), born Mīrzā Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad, was the founder of the Mughal Empire The Mughal Empire was an early-modern empire that controlled much of South ...
and invited him to attack Delhi Sultanate.
Babur Babur ( fa, , lit= tiger, translit= Bābur; ; 14 February 148326 December 1530), born Mīrzā Zahīr ud-Dīn Muhammad, was the founder of the Mughal Empire The Mughal Empire was an early-modern empire that controlled much of South ...
defeated and killed Ibrahim Lodi in the Battle of Panipat in 1526. The death of Ibrahim Lodi ended the Delhi Sultanate, and the
Mughal Empire The Mughal Empire was an early-modern empire that controlled much of South Asia between the 16th and 19th centuries. Quote: "Although the first two Timurid emperors and many of their noblemen were recent migrants to the subcontinent, the d ...
replaced it.Lodi Dynasty
''Encyclopædia Britannica'' (2009)


Modern era

The
modern history The term modern period or modern era (sometimes also called modern history or modern times) is the period of history that succeeds the Middle Ages (which ended approximately 1500 AD). This terminology is a historical periodization that is applie ...
period of South Asia, that is 16th-century onwards, witnessed the start of the Central Asian dynasty named the Mughals, with Turkish-Mongol roots and Sunni Islam theology. The first ruler was Babur, whose empire extended the northwest and
Indo-Gangetic Plain The Indo-Gangetic Plain, also known as the North Indian River Plain, is a fertile plain encompassing northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, including most of northern and eastern India, around half of Pakistan, virtually all of Bangla ...
regions of South Asia. The Deccan and northeastern region of South Asia was largely under Hindu kings such as those of Vijayanagara Empire and
Ahom kingdom The Ahom kingdom (, 1228–1826) was a late medieval kingdom in the Brahmaputra Valley in Assam. It maintained its sovereignty for nearly 600 years having successfully resisted Mughal expansion in Northeast India. Established by Suka ...
, with some regions such as parts of modern
Telangana Telangana (; , ) is a States and union territories of India, state in India situated on the south-central stretch of the Indian subcontinent, Indian peninsula on the high Deccan Plateau. It is the List of states and union territories of India b ...
and
Andhra Pradesh Andhra Pradesh (, abbr. AP) is a States and union territories of India, state in the south-eastern Coastal India, coastal region of India. It is the List of states and union territories of India by area, seventh-largest state by area coverin ...
under local Sultanates such as the Shia Islamic rulers of
Golconda Sultanate The Qutb Shahi dynasty also called as Golconda Sultanate (Persian language, Persian: ''Qutb Shāhiyān'' or ''Sultanat-e Golkonde'') was a Persianate society, Persianate Shia Islam dynasty of Turkoman (ethnonym), Turkoman origin that ruled th ...
. The Mughal Empire continued its wars of expansion after Babur's death. With the fall of the Rajput kingdoms and Vijayanagara, its boundaries encompassed almost the entirety of the Indian subcontinent. The Mughal Empire was marked by a period of artistic exchanges and a Central Asian and South Asian architecture synthesis, with remarkable buildings such as the
Taj Mahal The Taj Mahal (; ) is an Islamic architecture, Islamic ivory-white marble mausoleum on the right bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1631 by the Mughal Empire, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan () to house ...
. At its height, the empire was the world's largest economy, worth almost 25% of global GDP, more than the entirety of Western Europe. Maddison, Angus (2003):
Development Centre Studies The World Economy Historical Statistics: Historical Statistics
',
OECD Publishing The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD; french: Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques, ''OCDE'') is an intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organisation with 38 member countries ...
, , pages 259–261
However, this time also marked an extended period of
religious persecution Religious persecution is the systematic mistreatment of an individual or a group of individuals as a response to their religion, religious beliefs or affiliations or their irreligion, lack thereof. The tendency of societies or groups within soc ...
. Two of the religious leaders of
Sikhism Sikhism (), also known as Sikhi ( pa, ਸਿੱਖੀ ', , from pa, ਸਿੱਖ, lit=disciple', 'seeker', or 'learner, translit=Sikh, label=none),''Sikhism'' (commonly known as ''Sikhī'') originated from the word ''Sikh'', which comes fro ...
,
Guru Arjan Guru Arjan (Gurmukhi: ਗੁਰੂ ਅਰਜਨ, pronunciation: ; 15 April 1563 – 30 May 1606) was the first of the two Gurus Martyrdom in Sikhism, martyred in the Sikh faith and the fifth of the ten total Sikh Gurus. He compiled the first ...
and
Guru Tegh Bahadur Guru Tegh Bahadur (Punjabi language, Punjabi: ਗੁਰੂ ਤੇਗ਼ ਬਹਾਦਰ (Gurmukhi); ; 1 April 1621 – 11 November 1675) was the ninth of ten Sikh gurus, Gurus who founded the Sikhism, Sikh religion and the leader of Sikhs ...
were arrested under orders of the Mughal emperors and were asked to convert to Islam, and were executed when they refused. Religious taxes on non-Muslims called ''jizya'' were imposed. Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh temples were desecrated. However, not all Muslim rulers persecuted non-Muslims.
Akbar Abu'l-Fath Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar (25 October 1542 – 27 October 1605), popularly known as Akbar the Great ( fa, ), and also as Akbar I (), was the third Mughal emperor, who reigned from 1556 to 1605. Akbar succeeded his father, Hu ...
, a Mughal ruler for example, sought religious tolerance and abolished jizya. In Aurangzeb's time, almost all of South Asia was claimed by the Mughal Empire. Under
Aurangzeb Muhi al-Din Muhammad (; – 3 March 1707), commonly known as ( fa, , lit=Ornament of the Throne) and by his regnal title Alamgir ( fa, , translit=ʿĀlamgīr, lit=Conqueror of the World), was the sixth emperor of the Mughal Empire, ruling ...
's rule, South Asia reached its zenith, becoming the world's largest economy and biggest manufacturing power, estimated over 25% of world GDP, a value higher than China's and entire Western Europe's one. After the death of Aurangzeb and the collapse of the Mughal Empire, which marks the beginning of modern India, in the early 18th century, it provided opportunities for the
Marathas The Marathi people (Marathi language, Marathi: मराठी लोक) or Marathis are an Indo-Aryan peoples, Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic group who are indigenous to Maharashtra in western India. They natively speak Marathi language, Marathi ...
,
Sikhs Sikhs ( or ; pa, ਸਿੱਖ, ' ) are people who adhere to Sikhism, Sikhism (Sikhi), a Monotheism, monotheistic religion that originated in the late 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, based on the revelation of Gu ...
, Mysoreans and
Nawabs of Bengal The Nawab of Bengal ( bn, বাংলার নবাব) was the hereditary ruler of Bengal Subah in Mughal Empire, Mughal India. In the early 18th-century, the Nawab of Bengal was the ''de facto'' independent ruler of the three regions of B ...
to exercise control over large regions of the Indian subcontinent. By the mid-18th century, India was a major proto-industrializing region. Maritime trading between South Asia and European merchants began after the Portuguese explorer Vasco de Gama returned to Europe. British, French, Portuguese colonial interests struck treaties with these rulers and established their trading ports. In northwest South Asia, a large region was consolidated into the Sikh Empire by
Ranjit Singh Ranjit Singh (13 November 1780 – 27 June 1839), popularly known as Sher-e-Punjab or "Lion of Punjab", was the first Maharaja of the Sikh Empire, which ruled the northwest Indian subcontinent in the early half of the 19th century. He s ...
. After the defeat of the
Nawab of Bengal The Nawab of Bengal ( bn, বাংলার নবাব) was the hereditary ruler of Bengal Subah in Mughal Empire, Mughal India. In the early 18th-century, the Nawab of Bengal was the ''de facto'' independent ruler of the three regions of B ...
and
Tipu Sultan Tipu Sultan (born Sultan Fateh Ali Sahab Tipu, 1 December 1751 – 4 May 1799), also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore based in South India. He was a pioneer of rocket artillery.Dalrymple, p. 243 He int ...
and his French allies, the expanded their interests until the Hindu Kush region.


Contemporary era

In 1905, the
Government of India The Government of India (ISO 15919, ISO: ; often abbreviated as GoI), known as the Union Government or Central Government but often simply as the Centre, is the Government, national government of the Republic of India, a federal democracy lo ...
initiated the partition of
Bengal Bengal ( ; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most not ...
, a decision which was eventually reversed after Indian opposition. However, during the
partition of India The Partition of British India in 1947 was the Partition (politics), change of political borders and the division of other assets that accompanied the dissolution of the British Raj in South Asia and the creation of two independent dominions: ...
, Bengal was partitioned into
East Bengal East Bengal ( bn, পূর্ব বাংলা/পূর্ববঙ্গ ''Purbô Bangla/Purbôbongo'') was a geographically noncontiguous province of the Dominion of Pakistan covering present-day Bangladesh. With its coastline on the Bay of B ...
(Pakistan) and
West Bengal West Bengal (, Bengali language, Bengali: ''Poshchim Bongo'', , abbr. WB) is a States and union territories of India, state in the East India, eastern portion of India. It is situated along the Bay of Bengal, along with a population of over ...
(India). East Bengal became the
People's Republic of Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 165 million pe ...
after the
Bangladesh Liberation War The Bangladesh Liberation War ( bn, মুক্তিযুদ্ধ, , also known as the Bangladesh War of Independence, or simply the Liberation War in Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh ...
in 1971.


Geography

According to Saul Cohen, early colonial era strategists treated South Asia with East Asia, but in reality, the South Asia region excluding Afghanistan is a distinct
geopolitical Geopolitics (from Ancient Greek, Greek γῆ ''gê'' "earth, land" and πολιτική ''politikḗ'' "politics") is the study of the effects of Earth's geography (human and physical) on politics and international relations. While geopolitics usu ...
region separated from other nearby geostrategic realms, one that is geographically diverse. The region is home to a variety of geographical features, such as
glacier A glacier (; ) is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. A glacier forms where the accumulation of snow exceeds its Ablation#Glaciology, ablation over many years, often Century, centuries. It acquires dis ...
s,
rainforest Rainforests are characterized by a closed and continuous tree Canopy (biology), canopy, moisture-dependent vegetation, the presence of epiphytes and lianas and the absence of wildfire. Rainforest can be classified as tropical rainforest or tem ...
s,
valley A valley is an elongated low area often running between Hill, hills or Mountain, mountains, which will typically contain a river or stream running from one end to the other. Most valleys are formed by erosion of the land surface by rivers ...
s,
desert A desert is a barren area of landscape where little precipitation occurs and, consequently, living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. The lack of vegetation exposes the unprotected surface of the ground to denudation. About one ...
s, and
grassland A grassland is an area where the vegetation is dominated by grasses (Poaceae). However, sedge (Cyperaceae) and rush (Juncaceae) can also be found along with variable proportions of legumes, like clover, and other Herbaceous plant, herbs. Grassl ...
s that are typical of much larger continents. It is surrounded by three water bodiesthe , the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Seaand has acutely varied climate zones. The tip of the Indian Peninsula had the highest quality pearls.


Indian Plate

Most of this region is resting on the Indian Plate, the northerly portion of the
Indo-Australian Plate The Indo-Australian Plate is a List of tectonic plates#Major plates, major tectonic plate that includes the Australia (continent), continent of Australia and the surrounding ocean and extends northwest to include the Indian subcontinent and the ad ...
, separated from the rest of the
Eurasian Plate The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate that includes most of the continent of Eurasia (a landmass consisting of the traditional continents of Europe and Asia), with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Plate, Arabian sub ...
. The Indian Plate includes most of South Asia, forming a land mass which extends from the into a portion of the basin under the Indian Ocean, including parts of
South China South China () is a geographical and cultural region that covers the southernmost part of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by ...
and Eastern
Indonesia Indonesia, officially the Republic of Indonesia, is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania between the Indian Ocean, Indian and Pacific Ocean, Pacific oceans. It consists of over List of islands of Indonesia, 17,000 islands, including Sumatr ...
, as well as
Kunlun The Kunlun Mountains ( zh, s=昆仑山, t=崑崙山, p=Kūnlún Shān, ; ug, كۇئېنلۇن تاغ تىزمىسى / قۇرۇم تاغ تىزمىسى ) constitute one of the longest mountain chains in Asia, extending for more than . In the bro ...
and ranges, and extending up to but not including
Ladakh Ladakh () is a region administered by India as a union territory which constitutes a part of the larger Kashmir region and has been the subject of dispute between India, Pakistan, and China since 1947. (subscription required) Quote: "Jammu and ...
, Kohistan, the range, and
Balochistan Balochistan ( ; bal, بلۏچستان; also romanised as Baluchistan and Baluchestan) is a historical region in Western Asia, Western and South Asia, located in the Iranian plateau's far southeast and bordering the Indian Plate and the Arabian S ...
. It may be noted that geophysically the
Yarlung Tsangpo River The Yarlung Tsangpo, also called Yarlung Zangbo () is the upper stream of the Brahmaputra River located in the Tibet Autonomous Region, China. It is the longest river of Tibet and the fifth longest in China. The upper section is also called Maqu ...
in Tibet is situated at the outside of the border of the regional structure, while the
Pamir Mountains The Pamir Mountains are a mountain range between Central Asia and Pakistan. It is located at a junction with other notable mountains, namely the Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun Mountains, Kunlun, Hindu Kush and the Himalayas, Himalaya mountain rang ...
in Tajikistan are situated inside that border. The formerly formed part of the
supercontinent In geology, a supercontinent is the assembly of most or all of Earth's continent, continental blocks or cratons to form a single large landmass. However, some geologists use a different definition, "a grouping of formerly dispersed continents", ...
, before rifting away during the
Cretaceous The Cretaceous ( ) is a geological period that lasted from about 145 to 66 mya (unit), million years ago (Mya). It is the third and final period of the Mesozoic Era (geology), Era, as well as the longest. At around 79 million years, it is the long ...
period and colliding with the
Eurasian Plate The Eurasian Plate is a tectonic plate that includes most of the continent of Eurasia (a landmass consisting of the traditional continents of Europe and Asia), with the notable exceptions of the Indian subcontinent, the Arabian Plate, Arabian sub ...
about 50–55 million years ago and giving birth to the Himalayan range and the
Tibetan plateau The Tibetan Plateau (, also known as the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau or the Qing–Zang Plateau () or as the Himalayan Plateau in India, is a vast elevated plateau located at the intersection of Central, South and East Asia East Asia is t ...
. It is the r region south of the
Himalaya The Himalayas, or Himalaya (; ; ), is a mountain range in Asia, separating the plains of the Indian subcontinent from the Tibetan Plateau. The range has some of the planet's highest peaks, including the very highest, Mount Everest ...
s and Kuen Lun mountain ranges and east of the
Indus River The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river of Asia and a trans- Himalayan river of South and Central Asia. The river rises in mountain springs northeast of Mount Kailash in Western Tibet, flows northwest through the disputed region of Ka ...
and the
Iranian Plateau The Iranian plateau or Persian plateau is a geology, geological feature in Western Asia, Central Asia, and South Asia. It comprises part of the Eurasian Plate and is wedged between the Arabian Plate and the Indian Plate; situated between th ...
, extending southward into the Indian Ocean between the Arabian Sea (to the southwest) and the (to the southeast).


Climate

The climate of this vast region varies considerably from area to area from tropical monsoon in the south to temperate in the north. The variety is influenced by not only the altitude but also by factors such as proximity to the seacoast and the seasonal impact of the
monsoon A monsoon () is traditionally a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation but is now used to describe seasonal changes in Atmosphere of Earth, atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with annu ...
s. Southern parts are mostly hot in summers and receive rain during monsoon periods. The northern belt of
Indo-Gangetic plain The Indo-Gangetic Plain, also known as the North Indian River Plain, is a fertile plain encompassing northern regions of the Indian subcontinent, including most of northern and eastern India, around half of Pakistan, virtually all of Bangla ...
s also is hot in summer, but cooler in winter. The mountainous north is colder and receives snowfall at higher altitudes of Himalayan ranges. As the block the north-Asian bitter cold winds, the temperatures are considerably moderate in the plains down below. For the most part, the climate of the region is called the
Monsoon A monsoon () is traditionally a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation but is now used to describe seasonal changes in Atmosphere of Earth, atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with annu ...
climate, which keeps the region humid during summer and dry during winter, and favours the cultivation of
jute Jute is a long, soft, shiny bast fiber that can be spun into coarse, strong threads. It is produced from flowering plants in the genus ''Corchorus'', which is in the mallow family Malvaceae. The primary source of the fiber is ''Corchorus olit ...
, tea, rice, and various vegetables in this region. South Asia is largely divided into four broad climate zones:John E. Olive, ''The Encyclopedia of World Climatology'', page 115-117, Springer, 2005, * The northern Indian edge and northern Pakistani uplands have a dry subtropical
continental climate Continental climates often have a significant annual variation in temperature (warm summers and cold winters). They tend to occur in the middle latitudes (40 to 55 north), within large landmasses where prevailing winds blow overland bringing som ...
* The far south of India and southwest Sri Lanka have an
equatorial climate A tropical rainforest climate, humid tropical climate or equatorial climate is a tropical climate sub-type usually found within 10 to 15 degrees latitude of the equator. There are some other areas at higher latitudes, such as the coast of southeas ...
* Most of the peninsula has a tropical climate with variations: ** Hot
subtropical The subtropical zones or subtropics are geographical zone, geographical and Köppen climate classification, climate zones to the Northern Hemisphere, north and Southern Hemisphere, south of the tropics. Geographically part of the Geographical z ...
climate in northwest India ** Cool winter hot
tropical climate Tropical climate is the first of the five major climate groups in the Köppen climate classification identified with the letter A. Tropical climates are defined by a monthly average temperature of 18 °C (64.4 °F) or higher in the cool ...
in Bangladesh ** Tropical
semi-arid climate A semi-arid climate, semi-desert climate, or steppe climate is a dry climate sub-type. It is located on regions that receive precipitation below Evapotranspiration#Potential evapotranspiration, potential evapotranspiration, but not as low as a des ...
in the center * The Himalayas and most of the have an
Alpine climate Alpine climate is the typical weather (climate) for elevations above the tree line, where trees fail to grow due to cold. This climate is also referred to as a mountain climate or highland climate. Definition There are multiple definitions of ...
Maximum relative humidity of over 80% has been recorded in Khasi and Jaintia Hills and Sri Lanka, while the area adjustment to Pakistan and western India records lower than 20%–30%. Climate of South Asia is largely characterized by
monsoon A monsoon () is traditionally a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation but is now used to describe seasonal changes in Atmosphere of Earth, atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with annu ...
s. South Asia depends critically on monsoon rainfall. Two monsoon systems exist in the region: * The summer monsoon: Wind blows from the southwest to most parts of the region. It accounts for 70%–90% of the annual precipitation. * The winter monsoon: Wind blows from the northeast. Dominant in Sri Lanka and Maldives. The warmest period of the year precedes the monsoon season (March to mid June). In the summer the low pressures are centered over the Indus-Gangetic Plain and high wind from the Indian Ocean blows towards the center. The monsoons are the second coolest season of the year because of high humidity and cloud covering. But, at the beginning of June, the jetstreams vanish above the
Tibetan Plateau The Tibetan Plateau (, also known as the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau or the Qing–Zang Plateau () or as the Himalayan Plateau in India, is a vast elevated plateau located at the intersection of Central, South and East Asia East Asia is t ...
, low pressure over the
Indus Valley The Indus ( ) is a transboundary river of Asia and a trans-Himalayan river of South and Central Asia Central Asia, also known as Middle Asia, is a region of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most notable geographical reg ...
deepens and the
Intertropical Convergence Zone The Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ ), known by sailors as the doldrums or the calms because of its monotonous windless weather, is the area where the northeast and the southeast trade winds converge. It encircles Earth near the thermal e ...
(ITCZ) moves in. The change is violent. Moderately vigorous monsoon depressions form in the Bay of Bengal and make landfall from June to September. Climate change in South Asia is causing a range of challenges including
sea level rise Globally, Sea level, sea levels are rising due to human-caused climate change. Between 1901 and 2018, the globally averaged sea level rose by , or 1–2 mm per year on average.IPCC, 2019Summary for Policymakers InIPCC Special Report on the Oce ...
, cyclonic activity, and changes in
ambient temperature Colloquially, "room temperature" is a range of air temperatures that most people prefer for indoor settings. It feels comfortable to a person when they are wearing typical indoor clothing. Human comfort can extend beyond this range depending on ...
and precipitation patterns.


Land and water area

This list includes
dependent territories A dependent territory, dependent area, or dependency (sometimes referred as an external territory) is a territory that does not possess full political independence or sovereignty as a sovereign state, yet remains politically outside the controlli ...
within their
sovereign states A sovereign state or sovereign country, is a political entity represented by one central government A central government is the government that is a controlling power over a unitary state. Another distinct but sovereign political entity is ...
(including uninhabited territories), but does not include claims on
Antarctica Antarctica () is Earth's southernmost and least-populated continent. Situated almost entirely south of the Antarctic Circle and surrounded by the Southern Ocean, it contains the geographic South Pole. Antarctica is the fifth-largest contine ...
. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA) which includes land and internal waters.


Society


Population

The population of South Asia is about 1.749 billion which makes it the most populated region in the world. It is socially very mixed, consisting of many language groups and religions, and social practices in one region that are vastly different from those in another.


Languages

There are numerous languages in South Asia. The spoken languages of the region are largely based on geography and shared across religious boundaries, but the written script is sharply divided by religious boundaries. In particular, Muslims of South Asia such as in Afghanistan and Pakistan use the Arabic alphabet and Persian
Nastaliq ''Nastaliq'' (; fa, , ), also Romanization of Persian, romanized as ''Nastaʿlīq'', is one of the main calligraphic hands used to write the Perso-Arabic script in the Persian language, Persian and Urdu languages, often used also for Ottoman ...
. Till 1952, Muslim-majority Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan) also mandated only the Nastaliq script, but after that adopted regional scripts and particularly Bengali, after the Language Movement for the adoption of Bengali as the official language of the then East Pakistan. Non-Muslims of South Asia, and some Muslims in India, on the other hand, use scripts such as those derived from
Brahmi script Brahmi (; ; ISO 15919, ISO: ''Brāhmī'') is a writing system of ancient South Asia. "Until the late nineteenth century, the script of the Aśokan (non-Kharosthi) inscriptions and its immediate derivatives was referred to by various names such ...
for Indo-European languages and non-Brahmi scripts for
Dravidian languages The Dravidian languages (or sometimes Dravidic) are a language family, family of languages spoken by 250 million people, mainly in South India, southern India, north-east Sri Lanka, and south-west Pakistan. Since the colonial era, there have b ...
and others. The Nagari script has been the ''
primus inter pares ''Primus inter pares'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium ...
'' of the traditional South Asian scripts. The
Devanagari Devanagari ( ; , , Sanskrit pronunciation: ), also called Nagari (),Kathleen Kuiper (2010), The Culture of India, New York: The Rosen Publishing Group, , page 83 is a left-to-right abugida (a type of segmental Writing systems#Segmental syste ...
script is used for over 120 South Asian languages,Devanagari (Nagari)
, Script Features and Description,
SIL International SIL International (formerly known as the Summer Institute of Linguistics) is an evangelical Christian non-profit organization whose main purpose is to study, develop and document languages, especially those that are lesser-known, in order to ex ...
(2013), United States
including
Hindi Hindi (Devanāgarī: or , ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: ), is an Indo-Aryan languages, Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in the Hindi Belt region encompassing parts of North India, northern, Central India, centr ...
, Marathi, Nepali,
Pali Pali () is a Middle Indo-Aryan languages, Middle Indo-Aryan liturgical language native to the Indian subcontinent. It is widely studied because it is the language of the Buddhist ''Pali Canon, Pāli Canon'' or ''Tripiṭaka, Tipiṭaka'' as ...
, Konkani, Bodo, Sindhi and Maithili among other languages and dialects, making it one of the most used and adopted writing systems in the world. The Devanagari script is also used for classical Sanskrit texts. The largest spoken language in this region is
Hindustani language Hindustani (; Devanagari: , * * * * ; Nastaliq, Perso-Arabic: , , ) is the ''lingua franca'' of North India, Northern and Deccan Plateau, Central India and Pakistan. Hindustani is a pluricentric language with two Standard language, stand ...
, followed by Bengali, Telugu, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati, Kannada, and Punjabi. In the modern era, new syncretic languages developed in the region such as
Urdu Urdu (;"Urdu"
''Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary''.
ur, , link=no, ) is an Indo-Aryan languages, In ...
that are used by the Muslim community of northern South Asia (particularly Pakistan and northern states of India). The Punjabi language spans three religions: Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism. The spoken language is similar, but it is written in three scripts. The
Sikh Sikhs ( or ; pa, ਸਿੱਖ, ' ) are people who adhere to Sikhism (Sikhi), a monotheistic religion that originated in the late 15th century in the Punjab region of the Indian subcontinent, based on the revelation of Guru Nanak. The ter ...
use
Gurmukhi alphabet Gurmukhī ( pa, ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ, , Shahmukhi alphabet, Shahmukhi: ) is an abugida developed from the Laṇḍā scripts, standardized and used by the second Sikh gurus, Sikh guru, Guru Angad (1504–1552). It is used by Punjabi Sikhs to ...
, Muslim Punjabis in
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...

Pakistan
use the Nastaliq script, while Hindu Punjabis in India use the Gurmukhi or Nāgarī script. The Gurmukhi and Nagari scripts are distinct but close in their structure, but the Persian Nastaliq script is very different. English, with British spelling, is commonly used in urban areas and is a major economic
lingua franca A lingua franca (; ; for plurals see ), also known as a bridge language, common language, trade language, auxiliary language, vehicular language, or link language, is a Natural language, language systematically used to make communication possib ...
of South Asia.


Religions

In 2010, South Asia had the world's largest population of Hindus, about 510 million Muslims, over 27 million Sikhs, 35 million Christians and over 25 million
Buddhists Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based on Pre-sectarian Buddhism, teachings attributed to the Buddha. ...
. Hindus make up about 68 percent or about 900 million and Muslims at 31 percent or 510 million of the overall South Asia population, while Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Sikhs constitute most of the rest. The Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians are concentrated in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan, while the Muslims are concentrated in Afghanistan (99%), Bangladesh (90%), Pakistan (96%) and Maldives (100%).
Indian religions Indian religions, sometimes also termed Dharmic religions or Indic religions, are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent. These religions, which include Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Sikhism,Adams, C. J."Classification of ...
are the religions that originated in the Indian subcontinent; namely
Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indian religions, Indian religion or ''dharma'', a religious and universal order or way of life by which followers abide. As a religion, it is the Major religious groups, world's third-largest, with over 1.2–1.35 billion ...
,
Jainism Jainism ( ), also known as Jain Dharma, is an Indian religions, Indian religion. Jainism traces its spiritual ideas and history through the succession of twenty-four tirthankaras (supreme preachers of ''Dharma''), with the first in the current ...
,
Buddhism Buddhism ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based on Pre-sectarian Buddhism, teachings attributed to the Buddha. ...
and
Sikhism Sikhism (), also known as Sikhi ( pa, ਸਿੱਖੀ ', , from pa, ਸਿੱਖ, lit=disciple', 'seeker', or 'learner, translit=Sikh, label=none),''Sikhism'' (commonly known as ''Sikhī'') originated from the word ''Sikh'', which comes fro ...
. Adams, C. J.
Classification of religions: Geographical
,
Encyclopædia Britannica The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-d ...
, 2007. Accessed: 15 July 2010; Quote: "Indian religions, including early Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism, and sometimes also Theravāda Buddhism and the Hindu- and Buddhist-inspired religions of South and Southeast Asia".
The Indian religions are distinct yet share terminology, concepts, goals and ideas, and from South Asia spread into East Asia and southeast Asia. Early Christianity and Islam were introduced into coastal regions of South Asia by merchants who settled among the local populations. Later
Sindh Sindh (; ; ur, , ; historically romanized as Sind) is one of the Administrative units of Pakistan, four provinces of Pakistan. Located in the Geography of Pakistan, southeastern region of the country, Sindh is the third-largest province of ...
,
Balochistan Balochistan ( ; bal, بلۏچستان; also romanised as Baluchistan and Baluchestan) is a historical region in Western Asia, Western and South Asia, located in the Iranian plateau's far southeast and bordering the Indian Plate and the Arabian S ...
, and parts of the
Punjab region Punjab (; Punjabi Language, Punjabi: پنجاب ; ਪੰਜਾਬ ; ; also Romanization, romanised as ''Panjāb'' or ''Panj-Āb'') is a geopolitical, cultural, and historical region in South Asia, specifically in the northern part of the I ...
saw conquest by the Arab caliphates along with an influx of Muslims from Persia and Central Asia, which resulted in spread of both Shia and Sunni Islam in parts of northwestern region of South Asia. Subsequently, under the influence of Muslim rulers of the Islamic sultanates and the Mughal Empire, Islam spread in South Asia. About one-third of the world's Muslims are from South Asia.


Largest urban areas

South Asia is home to some of the most populated urban areas in the world. According to the 2020 edition of ''Demographia World Urban Areas'', the region contains 8 of the world's 35 megacities (urban areas over 10 million population):


Sports

Cricket Cricket is a Bat-and-ball games, bat-and-ball game played between two teams of eleven players on a cricket field, field at the centre of which is a cricket pitch, pitch with a wicket at each end, each comprising two Bail (cricket), bails b ...
is the most popular sport in South Asia, with 90% of the sport's worldwide fans being in the . There are also some traditional games, such as
kabaddi Kabaddi is a contact sport, contact team sport. Played between two teams of seven players, the objective of the game is for a single player on offence, referred to as a "raider", to run into the opposing team's half of the court, touch out as ...
and
kho-kho Kho kho or kho-kho is a Traditional games of India, traditional Indian sport that dates back to ancient India. It is the second most popular traditional Tag (game), tag game in the Indian subcontinent after kabaddi. Kho kho is played on a rectan ...
, which are played across the region and even officially at the
South Asian Games The South Asian Games (SAG or SA Games), formerly known as the South Asian Federation Games (SAFG or SAF Games), is a quadrennial multi-sport event held among the athletes from South Asia. The governing body of these games is South Asia Olympic C ...
.


Economy

India is the largest economy in the region (US$3.535 trillion) and makes up almost 80% of the South Asian economy; it is the world's 5th largest in nominal terms and 3rd largest by purchasing power adjusted exchange rates (US$11.745 trillion). Outlook Database, October 2018 India is the member of G-20 major economies and
BRICS BRICS is an acronym for five leading Emerging market, emerging economies: Brazil, Brazil, Russia, Russia, India, India, China, China, and South Africa, South Africa. The first four were initially grouped as "BRIC" (or "the BRICs") in 2001 by G ...
from the region. It is the fastest-growing major economy in the world and one of the world's fastest registering a growth of 7.3% in FY 2014–15. India is followed by Bangladesh, which has a GDP of ($411 billion) and a GDP per capita of $2,554, which is 4th in the region above India and Pakistan. It has the fastest GDP growth rate in Asia. It is one of the
emerging and growth-leading economies Emerging and growth-leading economies (EAGLEs) are a grouping of key emerging markets developed by BBVA Research. The EAGLE economies are expected to lead global growth in the next 10 years, and to provide important opportunities for investor ...
of the world, and is also listed among the Next Eleven countries. It is also one of the fastest-growing middle-income countries. It has the world's 33rd largest GDP in nominal terms and is the 27th largest by purchasing power adjusted exchange rates ($1.015 trillion). Bangladesh's economic growth crossed 7% in fiscal 2015–2016 after almost a decade in holding a growth rate of 6%, and is expected to grow by 8.13% in 2019–2020. Pakistan has an economy of ($314 billion) and ranks 5th in GDP per capita in the region. Next is
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...

Sri Lanka
, which has the 2nd highest GDP per capita and the 4th largest economy in the region. According to a World Bank report in 2015, driven by a strong expansion in India, coupled with favorable oil prices, from the last quarter of 2014 South Asia became the fastest-growing region in the world According to the World Bank's 2011 report, based on 2005 ICP PPP, about 24.6% of the South Asian population falls below the international poverty line of $1.25/day. Afghanistan and Bangladesh rank the highest, with 30.6% and 43.3% of their respective populations below the poverty line. Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka have the lowest number of people below the poverty line, with 2.4%, 1.5% and 4.1% respectively. India has lifted the most people in the region above the poverty line between 2008 and 2011, with around 140 million being raised from the poverty line. As of 2011, 21.9% of India's population lives below the poverty line, compared to 41.6% in 2005. The major stock exchanges in the region are
Bombay Stock Exchange BSE Limited, also known as the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), is an Indian stock exchange. It is located on Dalal Street in Mumbai. Established in 1875 by cotton merchant Premchand Roychand, a Jain businessman, it is the oldest stock exchange in ...
(BSE) with market Capitalization of $2.298 trillion ( 11th largest in the world),
National Stock Exchange of India National Stock Exchange of India Limited (NSE) is the leading stock exchange under the ownership of various group of domestic and global financial institutions, public and privately owned entities and individuals. It is located in Mumbai, Maha ...
(NSE) with market capitalization of $2.273 trillion ( 12th largest in the world), Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE), Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), and Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) with market capitalization of $72 billion. Economic data is sourced from the
International Monetary Fund The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a major financial agency of the United Nations, and an international financial institution, headquartered in Washington, D.C., consisting of 190 countries. Its stated mission is "working to foster globa ...
, current as of April 2017, and is given in US dollars.


Education

One of the key challenges in assessing the quality of education in South Asia is the vast range of contextual difference across the region, complicating any attempt to compare between countries.Suzana Brinkmann
Improving Education Quality in South Asia
(I), page 13, United Nations Children's Fund, Regional Office for South Asia, Nepal, 2018
In 2018, 11.3 million children at the primary level and 20.6 million children at the lower secondary level were out-of-school in South Asia, while millions of children completed primary education without mastering the foundational skills of basic numeracy and literacy.Education: South Asia
UNICEF
According to UNESCO, 241 million children between six and fourteen years or 81 percent of the total were not learning in Southern and Central Asia in 2017. Only sub-Saharan Africa had a higher rate of children not learning. Two-thirds of these children were in school, sitting in classrooms. Only 19 percent of children attending primary and lower secondary schools attaining a minimum proficiency level in reading and mathematics.''More than One-Half of Children and Adolescents are not learning worldwide''
Fact Sheet No.46, UNESCO Institute for Statistics September 2017
Suzana Brinkmann
Improving Education Quality in South Asia
(I), page 3, United Nations Children's Fund, Regional Office for South Asia, Nepal, 2018
According to a citizen-led assessment, only 48% in Indian public schools and 46% of children in Pakistan public schools could read a class two level text by the time they reached class five. This poor quality of education in turn has contributed to some of the highest drop-out rates in the world, while over half of the students complete secondary school with acquiring requisite skills. In South Asia, classrooms are teacher-centred and rote-based, while children are often subjected to corporal punishment and discrimination. Different South Asian countries have different education structures. While by 2018 India and Pakistan has two of the most developed and increasingly decentralised education systems, Bangladesh still had a highly centralised system, and Nepal is in a state of transition from a centralized to a decentralized system. In most South Asian countries children's education is theoretically free; the exceptions are the Maldives, where there is no constitutionally guaranteed free education, as well as Bhutan and Nepal, where fees are charged by primary schools. But parents are still faced with unmanageable secondary financial demands, including private tuition to make up for the inadequacies of the education system.Girls’ Education in South Asia
page 4, Education and Gender Equality Series, Programme Insights, Oxfam GB. February 2006
The larger and poorer countries in the region, like India and Bangladesh, struggle financially to get sufficient resources to sustain an education system required for their vast populations, with an added challenge of getting large numbers of out-of-school children enrolled into schools. Their capacity to deliver inclusive and equitable quality education is limited by low levels of public finance for education, while the smaller emerging middle-income countries like Sri Lanka, Maldives and Bhutan have been able to achieve universal primary school completion, and are in a better position to focus on quality of education. Children's education in the region is also adversely affected by natural and human-made crises including natural hazards, political instability, rising extremism and civil strife that makes it difficult to deliver educational services. Afghanistan and India are among the top ten countries with the highest number of reported disasters due to natural hazards and conflict. The precarious security situation in Afghanistan is a big barrier in rolling out education programmes on a national scale. According to UNICEF, girls face incredible hurdles to pursue their education in the region, while UNESCO estimated in 2005 that 24 million girls of primary-school age in the region were not receiving any formal education. Between 1900 and 2005, most of the countries in the region had shown progress in girls' education with Sri Lanka and the Maldives significantly ahead of the others, while the gender gap in education has widened in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Bangladesh made the greatest progress in the region in the period increasing girls’ secondary school enrolment from 13 percent to 56 percent in ten years.Girls’ Education in South Asia
page 2, Education and Gender Equality Series, Programme Insights, Oxfam GB. February 2006
With about 21 million students in 700 universities and 40 thousand colleges India had the one of the largest higher education systems in the world in 2011, accounting for 86 percent of all higher-level students in South Asia. Bangladesh (two million) and Pakistan (1.8 million) stood at distant second and third positions in the region. In Nepal (390 thousand) and Sri Lanka (230 thousand) the numbers were much smaller. Bhutan with only one university and Maldives with none hardly had between them about 7000 students in higher education in 2011. The gross enrolment ratio in 2011 ranged from about 10 percent in Pakistan and Afghanistan to above 20 percent in India, much below the global average of 31 percent.Jandhyala B.G. Tilak
Higher Education in South Asia: Crisis and Challenges
page 5, Social Scientist, Vol. 43, No. 1/2 (January–February 2015)


Health and nutrition

According to
World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a list of specialized agencies of the United Nations, specialized agency of the United Nations responsible for international public health. The WHO Constitution states its main objective as "the attainme ...
(WHO), South Asia is home to two out of the three countries in the world still affected by polio, Pakistan and Afghanistan, with 306 & 28 polio cases registered in 2014 respectively. Attempts to eradicate polio have been badly hit by opposition from militants in both countries, who say the program is cover to spy on their operations. Their attacks on immunization teams have claimed 78 lives since December 2012. The World Bank estimates that India is one of the highest ranking countries in the world for the number of children suffering from
malnutrition Malnutrition occurs when an organism gets too few or too many nutrients, resulting in health problems. Specifically, it is "a Deficiency (medicine), deficiency, excess, or imbalance of energy, protein and Vitamin deficiency, other nutrients" wh ...
. The prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world and is nearly double that of
Sub Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa is, geographically, the area and regions of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. These include West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa, and Southern Africa. Geopolitically, in addition to the List of sov ...
with dire consequences for mobility, mortality, productivity, and economic growth. According to the World Bank, 70% of the South Asian population and about 75% of South Asia's poor live in rural areas and most rely on agriculture for their livelihood according to the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation. In 2015, approximately 281 million people in the region were malnourished. The report says that Nepal reached both the WFS target as well as MDG and is moving towards bringing down the number of undernourished people to less than 5% of the population. Bangladesh reached the MDG target with the National Food Policy frameworkwith only 16.5% of the population undernourished. In India, the malnourished comprise just over 15 percent of the population. While the number of malnourished people in the neighborhood has shown a decline over the last 25 years, the number of under-nourished in Pakistan displays an upward trend. There were 28.7 million hungry in Pakistan in the 1990sa number that has steadily increased to 41.3 million in 2015 with 22% of the population malnourished. Approximately 194.6 million people are undernourished in India, which accounts for the highest number of people suffering from hunger in any single country. The 2006 report stated, "the low status of women in South Asian countries and their lack of nutritional knowledge are important determinants of high prevalence of underweight children in the region". Corruption and the lack of initiative on the part of the government has been one of the major problems associated with nutrition in India. Illiteracy in villages has been found to be one of the major issues that need more government attention. The report mentioned that although there has been a reduction in malnutrition due to the
Green Revolution The Green Revolution, also known as the Third Agricultural Revolution, was a period of technology transfer initiatives that saw greatly increased crop yields and agricultural production. These changes in agriculture began in developed countrie ...
in South Asia, there is concern that South Asia has "inadequate feeding and caring practices for young children".


Governance and politics


Systems of government

India is a
secular Secularity, also the secular or secularness (from Latin ''saeculum'', "worldly" or "of a generation"), is the state of being unrelated or neutral in regards to religion. Anything that does not have an explicit reference to religion, either negativ ...
federative
parliamentary republic A parliamentary republic is a republic that operates under a parliamentary system of government where the Executive (government), executive branch (the government) derives its legitimacy from and is accountable to the legislature (the parliame ...
with the
prime minister A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the Cabinet (government), cabinet and the leader of the Minister (government), ministers in the Executive (government), executive branch of government, often in a parliamentary syst ...
as head of government. With most populous functional democracy in world and world's longest written constitution, India has been stably sustaining the political system it adopted in 1950 with no regime change except that by a democratic election. India's sustained democratic freedoms are unique among the world's newer establishments. Since the formation of its republic abolishing British law, it has remained a democracy with civil liberties, an active Supreme Court, and a largely independent press. India leads region in
Democracy Index The ''Democracy Index'' is an index compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research division of the Economist Group, a UK-based private company which publishes the weekly newspaper ''The Economist''. Akin to a Human Development I ...
. It has a
multi-party system In political science, a multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coal ...
in its internal regional politics whereas alternative transfer of powers to alliances of Indian
left-wing Left-wing politics describes the range of Ideology#Political%20ideologies, political ideologies that support and seek to achieve social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. Left-wing politics typically in ...
and
right-wing Right-wing politics describes the range of Ideology#Political ideologies, political ideologies that view certain social orders and Social stratification, hierarchies as inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this pos ...
political parties in national government provide it with characteristics of a two-party state. India has been facing notable internal religious conflicts and separatism however consistently becoming more and more stable with time. Foundation of Pakistan lies in
Pakistan movement The Pakistan Movement ( ur, , translit=Teḥrīk-e-Pākistān) was a List of historical separatist movements, political movement in the first half of the 20th century that aimed for the creation of Pakistan from the Muslims, Muslim-majority a ...
started in
colonial India Colonial India was the part of the Indian subcontinent that was occupied by European colonial powers during the Age of Discovery. European power was exerted both by conquest and trade, especially in spices. The search for the wealth and prosp ...
based on Islamic nationalism. Pakistan is a federal
parliamentary A parliamentary system, or parliamentarian democracy, is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a sovereign state, state (or subordinate entity) where the Executive (government), executive derives its democratic legitimacy ...
Islamic republic The term Islamic republic has been used in different ways. Some Muslim religious leaders have used it as the name for a theoretical form of Islamic theocratic government enforcing sharia, or laws compatible with sharia. The term has also been u ...
and was the world's first country to adopt
Islamic republic The term Islamic republic has been used in different ways. Some Muslim religious leaders have used it as the name for a theoretical form of Islamic theocratic government enforcing sharia, or laws compatible with sharia. The term has also been u ...
system to modify its republican status under its otherwise secular constitution in 1956. Pakistan's governance is one of the most conflicted in the world. The military rule and the unstable government in Pakistan has become a concern for the South Asian region. Out of 22 appointed Pakistani Prime ministers, none has been able to complete a full term in office. The nature of Pakistani politics can be characterized as a
multi-party system In political science, a multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coal ...
. Pakistan's governance is one of the most conflicted in the region. The military rule and the unstable government in Pakistan have become a concern for the South Asian region. The unitary
semi-presidential A semi-presidential republic, is a republic in which a President (government title), president exists alongside a prime minister and a Cabinet (government), cabinet, with the latter two being responsible to the legislature of the State (polity ...
constitutional republic of
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...

Sri Lanka
is oldest sustained democracy in Asia. Tensions between Sinhalese and
Tamils The Tamil people, also known as Tamilar ( ta, தமிழர், Tamiḻar, translit-std=ISO, in the singular or ta, தமிழர்கள், Tamiḻarkaḷ, translit-std=ISO, label=none, in the plural), or simply Tamils (), are a Dravi ...
led to Sri Lankan civil war that undermined the country's stability for more than two and a half decades. Sri Lanka however, has been leading region in HDI with per capita GDP well ahead of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. The political situation in
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...

Sri Lanka
has been dominated by an increasingly assertive Sinhalese nationalism, and the emergence of a Tamil separatist movement under
LTTE The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE; ta, தமிழீழ விடுதலைப் புலிகள், translit=Tamiḻīḻa viṭutalaip pulikaḷ, si, දෙමළ ඊළාම් විමුක්ති කොටි, t ...
, which was suppressed in May 2009.
Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 165 million pe ...

Bangladesh
is a unitary
parliamentary republic A parliamentary republic is a republic that operates under a parliamentary system of government where the Executive (government), executive branch (the government) derives its legitimacy from and is accountable to the legislature (the parliame ...
. Law of Bangladesh defines it as both Islamic as well as secular. The nature of Bangladeshi politics can be characterized as a
multi-party system In political science, a multi-party system is a political system in which multiple political parties across the political spectrum run for national elections, and all have the capacity to gain control of government offices, separately or in coal ...
. Bangladesh is a
unitary state A unitary state is a sovereign state governed as a single entity in which the central government is the supreme authority. The central government may create (or abolish) administrative division Administrative division, administrative un ...
and
parliamentary democracy A parliamentary system, or parliamentarian democracy, is a system of democracy, democratic government, governance of a sovereign state, state (or subordinate entity) where the Executive (government), executive derives its democratic legitimacy ...
. Bangladesh also stands out as one of the few Muslim-majority democracies. "It is a moderate and generally secular and tolerant — though sometimes this is getting stretched at the moment — alternative to violent extremism in a very troubled part of the world", said Dan Mozena, the U.S. ambassador to
Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 165 million pe ...

Bangladesh
. Although Bangladesh's legal code is secular, more citizens are embracing a conservative version of
Islam Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God in Islam, God (or ''Allah'') as it was revealed to Muh ...
, with some pushing for
sharia law Sharia (; ar, شريعة, sharīʿa ) is a body of religious law that forms a part of the Islamic tradition. It is derived from the Five Pillars of Islam, religious precepts of Islam and is based on the Islamic holy books, sacred scriptures o ...
, analysts say. Experts say that the rise in conservatism reflects the influence of foreign-financed Islamic charities and the more austere version of Islam brought home by migrant workers in
Persian Gulf The Persian Gulf ( fa, خلیج فارس, translit=xalij-e fârs, lit=Gulf of Persis, Fars, ), sometimes called the ( ar, اَلْخَلِيْجُ ٱلْعَرَبِيُّ, Al-Khalīj al-ˁArabī), is a Mediterranean sea (oceanography), me ...
countries. By the 18th century, the Hindu
Gorkha Kingdom Gorkha Kingdom ( ne, गोरखा राज्य) was a member of the Chaubisi rajya, a confederation of 24 states on the Indian subcontinent ruled by Khas people. In 1743 CE, the kingdom began a campaign of military expansion, Unification o ...
achieved the
unification of Nepal The Unification of Nepal, also known as Expansion of Gorkha Kingdom, officially began in 1743 AD (1799 Vikram Samvat, BS) after King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Gorkha District, Gorkha launched an aggressive annexation campaign seeking to broaden h ...
. Hinduism became the state religion and Hindu laws were formulated as national policies. A small oligarchic group of Gorkha region based Hindu Thakuri and Chhetri political families dominated the national politics, military and civic affairs until the abdication of the
Rana dynasty Rana dynasty ( ne, राणा वंश, IAST=Rāṇā vaṃśa , ) is a Chhetri dynasty that imposed totalitarianism in the Kingdom of Nepal from 1846 until 1951, reducing the Shah monarch to a figurehead and making Prime Minister and ot ...
regime and establishment of Parliamentary democratic system in 1951, which was twice suspended by Nepalese monarchs, in 1960 and 2005. It was the last Hindu state in world before becoming a secular democratic republic in 2008. The country's modern development suffered due to the various significant events like the
1990 Nepalese revolution The 1990 People's Movement ( ne, २०४६ जनआन्दोलन, 2046 Jana Andolan) was a multiparty movement in Nepal Nepal (; ne, :ne:नेपाल, नेपाल ), formerly the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( n ...
, 1996–2006
Nepalese Civil War The Nepalese Civil War was a protracted armed conflict that took place in the former Kingdom of Nepal from 1996 to 2006. It saw fighting between the Government of Nepal, Nepalese royal government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centr ...
,
April 2015 Nepal earthquake The April 2015 Nepal earthquake (also known as the Gorkha earthquake) killed 8,964 people and injured 21,952 more. It occurred at on Saturday, 25 April 2015, with a magnitude of 7.8Moment magnitude scale, Mw or 8.1Surface wave magnitude, Ms an ...
and the
2015 Nepal blockade : The 2015 Nepal blockade, which began on 23 September 2015 and lasted about six months, was an economic An economy is an area of the production, distribution and trade, as well as consumption of goods and services. In general, it i ...
by India leading to the grave 2015–2017 Nepal humanitarian crisis. There is also a huge turnover in the office of the
Prime Minister of Nepal The Prime Minister of Nepal ( ne, नेपालको प्रधानमन्त्री) is the head of government of Nepal. The Prime Minister is the head of the Council of Ministers of Nepal and the chief adviser to the President of N ...
leading to serious concerns of
political instability Political decay is a political theory, originally described by Samuel P. Huntington, which describes how chaos and disorder can arise from social modernization increasing more rapidly than political and institutional modernization. Huntington provid ...
. The country has been ranked one of the poor countries in terms of GDP per capita but it has one of the lowest levels of
hunger In politics, humanitarian aid, and the social sciences, hunger is defined as a condition in which a person does not have the physical or financial capability to eat sufficient food to meet basic Human nutrition, nutritional needs for a sustaine ...
problem in South Asia. When the stability of the country ensured as late as recent, it has also made considerable progress in development indicators outpacing many other South Asian states.
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordere ...

Afghanistan
has been a unitary
theocratic Theocracy is a form of government in which one or more deity, deities are recognized as supreme ruling authorities, giving divine guidance to human intermediaries who manage the government's daily affairs. Etymology The word theocracy origina ...
Islamic Islam (; ar, ۘالِإسلَام, , ) is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism#Islam, monotheistic religion centred primarily around the Quran, a religious text considered by Muslims to be the direct word of God in Islam, God (or ...
emirate An emirate is a territory ruled by an emir, a title used by monarchs or high officeholders in the Muslim world. From a historical point of view, an emirate is a political-religious unit smaller than a caliphate. It can be considered equivalen ...
since 2021. Afghanistan has been suffering from one of the most unstable regimes on earth as a result of multiple foreign invasions, civil wars, revolutions and terrorist groups. Persisting instability for decades have left the country's economy stagnated and torn and it remains one of the most poor and least developed countries on the planet, leading to the influx of Afghan refugees to neighboring countries like
Iran Iran, officially the Islamic Republic of Iran, and also called Persia, is a country located in Western Asia. It is bordered by Iraq and Turkey to the west, by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the northwest, by the Caspian Sea and Turkmeni ...

Iran
. is a Buddhist state with a
constitutional monarchy A constitutional monarchy, parliamentary monarchy, or democratic monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the monarch exercises their authority in accordance with a constitution and is not alone in decision making. Constitutional monarchies dif ...
. The country has been ranked as the least corrupt and peaceful with most economic freedom in the region in 2016.
Myanmar Myanmar, ; UK pronunciations: US pronunciations incl. . Note: Wikipedia's IPA conventions require indicating /r/ even in British English although only some British English speakers pronounce r at the end of syllables. As John C. Wells, Joh ...

Myanmar
's politics is dominated by a military Junta, which has sidelined the democratic forces led by
Aung San Suu Kyi Aung San Suu Kyi (; ; born 19 June 1945) is a Burmese politician, diplomat, author, and a 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate who served as State Counsellor of Myanmar (equivalent to a prime minister) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Myanm ...
. is a unitary presidential republic with
Sunni Islam Sunni Islam () is the largest Islamic schools and branches, branch of Islam, followed by 85–90% of the world's Muslims. Its name comes from the word ''Sunnah'', referring to the tradition of Muhammad. The differences between Sunni and Shia ...
strictly as the state religion.


Regional politics

India has been the dominant geopolitical power in the region and alone accounts for most part of the landmass, population, economy and military expenditure in the region. India is a major economy, member of G4, has world's third highest military budget and exerts strong
cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior, institutions, and Social norm, norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the ...
and political influence over the region. Sometimes referred as a
great power A great power is a sovereign state that is recognized as having the ability and expertise to exert its influence on a global scale. Great powers characteristically possess military and economic strength, as well as diplomatic and soft power i ...
or emerging superpower primarily attributed to its large and expanding economic and military abilities, India acts as fulcrum of South Asia.
Bangladesh Bangladesh (}, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, eighth-most populous country in the world, with a population exceeding 165 million pe ...

Bangladesh
,
Pakistan Pakistan ( ur, ), officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ( ur, , label=none), is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a population of almost 24 ...

Pakistan
and
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකා, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is an ...

Sri Lanka
are
middle power In international relations, a middle power is a sovereign state A sovereign state or sovereign country, is a polity, political entity represented by one central government that has supreme legitimate authority over territory. Internationa ...
s with sizeable populations and economies with significant impact on regional politics. During the
Partition of India The Partition of British India in 1947 was the Partition (politics), change of political borders and the division of other assets that accompanied the dissolution of the British Raj in South Asia and the creation of two independent dominions: ...
in 1947, subsequent violence and territorial disputes left relations between India and Pakistan sour and very hostile and various confrontations and wars which largely shaped the politics of the region and led to the creation of Bangladesh. With
Yugoslavia Yugoslavia (; sh-Latn-Cyrl, separator=" / ", Jugoslavija, Југославија ; sl, Jugoslavija ; mk, Југославија ;; rup, Iugoslavia; hu, Jugoszlávia; rue, label= Pannonian Rusyn, Югославия, translit=Juhoslavij ...
, India found
Non-Aligned Movement The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) is a forum of 120 countries that Non-belligerent, are not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc. After the United Nations, it is the largest grouping of states worldwide. The movement originated in ...
but later entered an agreement with former
Soviet Union The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
following western support for Pakistan. Amid the
Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 was a military confrontation between India and Pakistan that occurred during the Bangladesh Liberation War in East Pakistan from 3 December 1971 until the Pakistani Instrument of Surrender, Pakistani ...
, US sent its USS ''Enterprise'' to the Indian Ocean what was perceived as a nuclear threat by India. India's nuclear test in 1974 pushed Pakistan's nuclear program who conducted nuclear tests in
Chagai-I Chagai-I is the code name A code name, call sign or cryptonym is a Code word (figure of speech), code word or name used, sometimes clandestinely, to refer to another name, word, project, or person. Code names are often used for military purp ...
in 1998, just 18 days after India's series of nuclear tests for
thermonuclear weapon A thermonuclear weapon, fusion weapon or hydrogen bomb (H bomb) is a second-generation nuclear weapon design. Its greater sophistication affords it vastly greater destructive power than first-generation nuclear bombs, a more compact size, a lowe ...
s. The
Soviet invasion of Afghanistan The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a List of former transcontinental countries#Since 1700, transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, ...
in 1979 accelerated efforts to form a union to restrengthen deteriorating regional security. After agreements, the union was finally established in Dhaka in December 1985. However, deterioration of India-Pakistan ties have led India to emphasize more on sub-regional groups SASEC and
BBIN The Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) Initiative is a subregional architecture of countries in Eastern South Asia, a subregion of South Asia. It meets through official representation of member states to formulate, implement and review qu ...
. South Asia continues to remain least integrated region in the world. Meanwhile, in East Asia, regional trade accounts for 50% of total trade, it accounts for only a little more than 5% in South Asia.
Populism Populism refers to a range of political stances that emphasize the idea of "the people" and often Juxtaposition, juxtapose this group against "elite, the elite". It is frequently associated with anti-establishment and anti-political sentimen ...
is a general characteristic of internal politics of India.


Regional groups of countries


See also

*
Genetics and archaeogenetics of South Asia Genetics and archaeogenetics of South Asia is the study of the genetics and archaeogenetics of the ethnic groups of South Asia. It aims at uncovering these groups' genetic history. The geographic position of South Asia makes its biodiversity impo ...
*
Cuisine of the Indian subcontinent Cuisine of the Indian subcontinent includes the cuisines from the Indian subcontinent The Indian subcontinent is a list of the physiographic regions of the world, physiographical region in United Nations geoscheme for Asia#Southern Asia, ...
*
South Asian Games The South Asian Games (SAG or SA Games), formerly known as the South Asian Federation Games (SAFG or SAF Games), is a quadrennial multi-sport event held among the athletes from South Asia. The governing body of these games is South Asia Olympic C ...
* South Asia Olympic Council *
South Asian Football Federation South Asian Football Federation (SAFF), founded in 1997, is an association of the Association football, football playing nations in South Asia and is part of the larger Asian Football Confederation. The members of the association are Banglades ...
*
List of tallest buildings and structures in the Indian subcontinent This list of tallest buildings in the Indian subcontinent (South Asia) ranks skyscrapers and structures in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, based upon height. Tallest buildings This list ranks buildings in the ...
* * '' A Region in Turmoil: South Asian Conflicts since 1947'' by Rob Johnson


Notes


References


Citations


Sources

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* *


External links


South Asia
The World Bank
Digital South Asia Library
University of Chicago
South Asian and Himalayan Arts
, Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian
South Asia
Brookings Institution
South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation
Asia Development Bank {{Authority control Regions of Asia Asia-Pacific