Everipedia Logo
Everipedia is now IQ.wiki - Join the IQ Brainlist and our Discord for early access to editing on the new platform and to participate in the beta testing.
Indian subcontinent

Indian subcontinent

The Indian subcontinent, is a southern region and peninsula of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago.[2] Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east.[3] Politically, the Indian subcontinent includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.[4][5][6]

Sometimes, the geographical term 'Indian subcontinent' is used interchangeably with 'South Asia',[7] although that last term is used typically as a political term and is also used to include Afghanistan.[8] Which countries should be included in either of these remains the subject of debate.[9][10][11]

Indian subcontinent
Area4.4 million km(1.7 million sq mi)
Population1.710 billion (2015)[1]
Population density389/km
CountriesBangladeshBhutanIndiaMaldivesNepalPakistanSri Lanka


According to Oxford English Dictionary, the term "subcontinent" signifies a "subdivision of a continent which has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity" and also a "large land mass somewhat smaller than a continent". It is first attested in 1845 to refer to the North and South Americas, before they were regarded as separate continents. Its use to refer to the Indian subcontinent is seen from the early twentieth century. It was especially convenient for referring to the region comprising both British India and the princely states under British Paramountcy.[12][12]

The term Indian subcontinent also has a geological significance.

Similar to various continents, it was a part of the supercontinent of Gondwana. A series of tectonic splits caused formation of various basins, each drifting in various directions. The geological region called "Greater India" once included Madagascar, Seychelles, Antarctica and Austrolasia along with the Indian subcontinent basin. As a geological term, Indian subcontinent has meant that region formed from the collision of the Indian basin with Eurasia nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene.[2][14]

The geographical region has historically simply been known as "India" (in antiquity referring to the Indus Valley region, not the entire subcontinent). Other related terms are Greater India and South Asia.[15]Religions%20of%20Sout]][[16]](https://openlibrary.org/search?q=Kathleen%20M.%20Baker%20and%20Graham%20P.%20Chapman%2C%20 [[CITE|16|https://openlibrary.org/search?q=Kathleen%20M.%20Baker%20and%20Graham%20P.%20Chapman%2C%20*The%20Chan)[7] inition on which countries are a part of South Asia or the Indian subcontinent.[9][11][10] The less common term "South Asian subcontinent" has seen occasional use since the 1970s.[17]



Geologically, the Indian subcontinent was first a part of so-called "Greater India",[14] a region of Gondwana that drifted away from East Africa about 160 million years ago, around the Middle Jurassic period.[2] The region experienced high volcanic activity and plate subdivisions, creating Madagascar, Seychelles, Antarctica, Austrolasia and the Indian subcontinent basin. The Indian subcontinent drifted northeastwards, colliding with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene. This geological region largely includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.[2] The zone where the Eurasian and Indian subcontinent plates meet remains geologically active, prone to major earthquakes.[18][19]

The English term "subcontinent" mainly continues to refer to the Indian subcontinent.[20][21] Physiographically, it is a peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east.[3][5] It extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast.[4][7] Most of this region rests on the Indian Plate and is isolated from the rest of Asia by large mountain barriers.[24]

Using the more expansive definition – counting India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives as the constituent countries – the Indian subcontinent covers about 4.4 million km2 (1.7 million sq mi), which is 10% of the Asian continent or 3.3% of the world's land surface area.[25][26] Overall, it accounts for about 45% of Asia's population and over 25% of the world's population, and it is home to a vast array of peoples.[25][24][28]

Socio-cultural sphere

Historical transmission routes of Buddhism from India to Central Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia

Historical transmission routes of Buddhism from India to Central Asia, East Asia and Southeast Asia

The Indian subcontinent is a natural physical landmass in South Asia, geologically the dry-land portion of the Indian Plate, which has been relatively isolated from the rest of Eurasia.[29] Given the difficulty of passage through the Himalayas, the sociocultural, religious and political interaction of the Indian subcontinent has largely been through the valleys of Afghanistan in its northwest,[30] the valleys of Manipur in its east, and by maritime routes.[29] More difficult but historically important interaction has also occurred through passages pioneered by the Tibetans. These routes and interactions have led to the spread of Buddhism out of the Indian subcontinent into other parts of Asia. And the Islamic expansion arrived into the Indian subcontinent in two ways, through Afghanistan on land and to Indian coast through the maritime routes on the Arabian Sea.[29]

Whether called the Indian subcontinent or South Asia, the definition of the geographical extent of this region varies.

Geopolitically, it had formed the whole territory of Greater India.[15]Religions%20of%20Sout]][[16]](https://openlibrary.org/search?q=Kathleen%20M.%20Baker%20and%20Graham%20P.%20Chapman%2C%20 [[CITE|16|https://openlibrary.org/search?q=Kathleen%20M.%20Baker%20and%20Graham%20P.%20Chapman%2C%20*The%20Chan)Republic of India Pakistan Bangladesh Nepal Bhutan island nation of Sri Lanka and other islands of the Indian Ocean,[5] such as the Maldives.[6][7][32] The term "Indian continent" is first introduced in the early 20th century, when most of the territory was part of British India.[33]

The Hindu Kush, centered on eastern Afghanistan, is the boundary connecting the Indian subcontinent with Central Asia to the northwest, and the Persian Plateau to the west. The socio-religious history of Afghanistan are related to the Turkish-influenced Central Asia and northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent, now known as Pakistan.[34][35] Others state Afghanistan being a part of Central Asia is not an accepted practice, and it is "clearly not part of the Indian subcontinent".[9]

The precise definition of an "Indian subcontinent" as opposed to "South Asia" in a geopolitical context is somewhat contested.[9][11][36]

Past and future population

  • The list of countries by past and future population provides 1950, 2000 and 2050 population while the population for the year 2100 is taken from United Nations projections.

RankCountryArea (km2)1950200020502100
5Sri Lanka65,6107,534,00019,042,00025,167,00014,857,000

Land and water area

This list includes dependent territories within their sovereign states (including uninhabited territories), but does not include claims on Antarctica. EEZ+TIA is exclusive economic zone (EEZ) plus total internal area (TIA) which includes land and internal waters.

RankCountryArea (km2)EEZShelfEEZ+TIA
5Sri Lanka65,610532,61932,453598,229

See also

  • Geography of South Asia


Citation Linkesa.un.org"World Population Prospects". United Nations: Population Division. 2017.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comRobert Wynn Jones (2011). Applications of Palaeontology: Techniques and Case Studies. Cambridge University Press. pp. 267–271. ISBN 978-1-139-49920-0.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comBaker, Kathleen M.; Chapman, Graham P. (11 March 2002), The Changing Geography of Asia, Routledge, pp. 10–, ISBN 978-1-134-93384-6, This greater India is well defined in terms of topography; it is the Indian sub-continent, hemmed in by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Khush in the west and the Arakanese in the east.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.org"Indian subcontinent". New Oxford Dictionary of English (ISBN 0-19-860441-6) 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 into three countries named Bangladesh, India and Pakistan."
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comDhavendra Kumar (2012). Genomics and Health in the Developing World. Oxford University Press. p. 889. ISBN 978-0-19-537475-9.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comMariam Pirbhai (2009). Mythologies of Migration, Vocabularies of Indenture: Novels of the South Asian Diaspora in Africa, the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific. University of Toronto Press. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-8020-9964-8.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comJohn McLeod, The history of India, page 1, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2002, ISBN 0-313-31459-4; note: McLeod does not include Afghanistan in Indian subcontinent or South Asia;Jim Norwine & Alfonso González, The Third World: states of mind and being, pages 209, Taylor & Francis, 1988, ISBN 0-04-910121-8Raj S. Bhopal, Ethnicity, race, and health in multicultural societies, pages 33, Oxford University Press, 2007, ISBN 0-19-856817-7; Quote: "The term South Asian refers to populations originating from the Indian subcontinent, effectively India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka;Lucian W. Pye & Mary W. Pye, Asian Power and Politics, pages 133, Harvard University Press, 1985, ISBN 0-674-04979-9Mark Juergensmeyer, The Oxford handbook of global religions, pages 465, Oxford University Press US, 2006, ISBN 0-19-513798-1Sugata Bose & Ayesha Jalal, Modern South Asia, pages 3, Routledge, 2004, ISBN 0-415-30787-2
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkwww.saarc-sec.orgAs for example it is in the South Asian Games and the 8-nation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), an economic cooperation organisation in the region, established in 1985, and ; SAARC Summit. "SAARC". SAARC Summit. Retrieved 17 December 2013.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comEwan W. Anderson; Liam D. Anderson (2013). An Atlas of Middle Eastern Affairs. Routledge. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-136-64862-5., 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".
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comMichael Mann (2014). South Asia’s Modern History: Thematic Perspectives. Taylor & Francis. pp. 13–15. ISBN 978-1-317-62445-5.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comJona Razzaque (2004). Public Interest Environmental Litigation in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Kluwer Law International. pp. 3 with footnotes 1 and 2. ISBN 978-90-411-2214-8.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkwww.oed.com"subcontinent". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Link//www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3356651Hinsbergen, D. J. J. van; Lippert, P. C.; Dupont-Nivet, G.; McQuarrie, N.; Doubrovine; et al. (2012). "Greater India Basin hypothesis and a two-stage Cenozoic collision between India and Asia". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 109 (20): 7659–7664, for geologic Indian subcontinent see Figure 1. doi:10.1073/pnas.1117262109. PMC 3356651.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgSushil Mittal and Gene Thursby, Religions of South Asia: An Introduction, page 3, Routledge, 2006, ISBN 9781134593224
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgKathleen M. Baker and Graham P. Chapman, The Changing Geography of Asia, page 10, Routledge, 2002, ISBN 9781134933846
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgOfficial Records: Proces-verbaux Officiels. Supplement. Supplement 1624-1683, United Nations, 1972, p. 38.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comBethany D. Rinard Hinga (2015). Ring of Fire: An Encyclopedia of the Pacific Rim's Earthquakes, Tsunamis, and Volcanoes. ABC-CLIO. pp. 89–90. ISBN 978-1-61069-297-7.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comAlexander E. Gates; David Ritchie (2006). Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes. Infobase. pp. 116–118. ISBN 978-0-8160-7270-5.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comMcLeod, John (1 January 2002). "The History of India". Greenwood Publishing Group – via Google Books.
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM
Citation Linkopenlibrary.orgMilton Walter Meyer, South Asia: A Short History of the Subcontinent, pages 1, Adams Littlefield, 1976, ISBN 0-8226-0034-X
Sep 24, 2019, 3:20 PM