A map of India coloured to show highland and lowland areas and vegetationHome to more than 1.3 billion people, India has a larger population than every other country except China. This vast country is a land of extreme contrasts: from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas in the north, to deserts in the west and tropical grasslands in the south. Its people, too, are diverse. Despite being an important world economy with a rapidly growing middle class, India has the world’s highest number of people living in poverty. People from hundreds of ethnic groups and from every major world religion live in India, speaking hundreds of languages. Except for the northern uplands, most of India has a hot, tropical climate. Between June and October, monsoon winds bring heavy rains from the Indian Ocean, drenching lands that are dry for much of the year.
The River Ganges is India’s largest river, measured by water flow. It travels over 2400 kilometres (1500 miles) through the country from the Himalayas in the northwest to the Bay of Bengal in the east. It brings vital water to farms in the surrounding plain, and enriches their land with fertile soil.
India is home to 17% of the world's population and is expected to become the world's most populous country (overtaking China) by 2022.
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