India is one of the ancient civilisations in the world. It has moved forward, displaying remarkable progress in the field of agriculture, industry, technology, and overall economic development. India has also contributed significantly to the making of world history. India – Size and Location, you will learn about India’s extent and standard meridian, India’s contact with the world through the International Highway of Trade and Commerce, and India’s neighbors.
Location of India
- India is a vast country. Lying entirely in the northern hemisphere the mainland extends between latitudes 8°4’ N nd 37°6’ N and longitudes 68°7’ E 7°25’ E.
Latitudinal and Longitudinal Extent of India
- The Tropic of Cancer (23°30’ N) divides the country into almost two equal parts. To the southeast and southwest of the mainland, lie the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea.
Try yourself:Which line divides India into approximately two equal parts?
The Tropic of Cancer (23⁰30'N) almost divides India into two equal parts. India begins to taper down at 22⁰.
Tropic of Cancer is the imaginary line at 23.50 degree north of the Equator.
In India Tropic of Cancer passes through 8 States. (Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Tripura, and Mizoram.)
Size of India
- The landmass of India has an area of 3.28 million square km. India’s total areas account for about 2.4 percent of the total geographical area of the world.
- India is the seventh-largest country in the world.
- India has a land boundary of about 15200 km and the total length of the coastline of the mainland including Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep is 7516.6 km.
India has a Distinct Physical and Cultural Identity
- Notwithstanding wide diversity, the Indian society has fostered unity and homogeneity. To a large extent, this unity and homogeneity have been promoted by the geographical features of the country.
(i) On its north, India is bounded by lofty mountains. These mountains run east-west for thousands of kilometers. These provide a natural wall against all possible intrusions.
(ii) On the south, India is surrounded by the seas and the ocean from three sides. It means the land is protected from outside intrusions.
- These geographical features have ensured that:
(i) People from outside could come only through well-defined routes, whether by sea or through passes in mountains.
(ii) People who came from outside brought with them their cultural elements. these elements came to be assimilated into Indian culture.
(iii) Indian society adapted itself to the new norms.
(iv) Thus, by adopting new norms and values and accepting them as their own, unity and homogeneity came to be promoted.
North-South Extent of India
- The north-south extent of India is larger than its east-west extent even though the country’s latitudinal and longitudinal extent in degrees is of the same value.
- The north-south distance between two successive latitudes remains the same or constant, and it is 3214 km in this case. But the east-west distance between the two successive longitudes goes on progressively decreasing from the equator to the poles. This is because all the meridians merge into a single point at the poles.
- In India, the maximum east-west extent, therefore, is much less than km. It is 2933 km only.
Impact of the Longitudinal Extent of India
- The earth takes 24 hours to complete one rotation (360°) about its axis. It means the earth rotates at a pace of 15° per hour (360°/24).
- As the longitudinal extent of India is about 30° longitude the time lag between easternmost and westernmost points of India is of two hours.
When it is 6.00 a.m at the eastern extremity of India it is still 4.00 a.m. at the westernmost point of India. To avoid this time confusion, time along the Standard Meridian of India (82°30’E) passing through Mirzapur (in Uttar Pradesh) is taken as the standard time for the whole country.
- The latitude with an odd value of 82°30’E has been selected as the Standard Meridian of India as:
(a) It is well divisible by 7°30’, a standard adopted by almost all the countries of the world.
(b) It lies almost in the middle of India, and as such, it suits us the most.
Impact of the Latitudinal Extent of India
- Kanyakumari is situated near the Equator. Here days and nights are almost equal, the maximum difference is 45 minutes only. But as we move farther towards north or south of the Equator, the difference between the length of the day and night becomes progressively larger. In north Kashmir, it is as much as 5 hours, as it is far away from the equator.
Try yourself:What is the position of India in the world in respect of area?
Area wise India's position in the world is 7th. It is 32,87,263 sq.km. India extends between latitudes 8º4'N and 37º6'N. It is a country of the east with its landmass lying between longitudes 68º7'E and 97º25'E.
India and the World
Significance of India’s Location
India on World Map
- Very thickly populated parts of the world such as China, Japan, and Southeast Asia lie very close to India. This has helped in developing trade and other relations with them.
- The oil-rich countries of the Persian Gulf are not far from us. We receive the bulk of our supplies from them.
- Being at the head of the Indian Ocean, the country occupies a strategic position and commercially favorable location in respect of Africa, Asia Australia.
- The Suez sea route provides us with the shortest route to industrial Europe and America.
- The busy air routes pass through India, connecting east, South East Asia and Australia on the one hand and Europe and America on the other.
- The third-largest ocean in the world came to be known as the Indian Ocean because the subcontinent of India stands at the head of this ocean. India was the favorite destination of the traders of the world.
India’s Contacts with the Outside World in Ancient and Medieval Times
- India belongs to the Eastern Hemisphere, which contains the oriental world. In ancient times, the sea played an important role in determining the nature of the interaction.
- The central location of India at the head of the Indian Ocean was of great advantage. Countries of East Africa, West Asia, South, and South-East Asia, and East Asia could be reached be through sea routes. Hence, India established close cultural and commercial contacts with these countries.
- India’s contacts with the outside world have continued through the ages:
(a) The exchanges of ideas and commodities date back to ancient times.
(b) The ideas of the Upanishads, and the Ramayana, the stories of Panchatantras, the Indian numerals, and the decimal system could reach many parts of the world.
(c) The spices, muslin, and other Indian goods were taken to different countries.
(d) The influence of Greek sculpture, and the architectural styles of dome and minarets from West Asia can be seen in India.
- To the north of India are China, Nepal, and Bhutan, and to the east, Bangladesh and Myanmar, to the west and northwest are Pakistan and Afghanistan.
India and its Neighbouring Countries
- In the south, separated from India by the Palk Strait, lies the island country of Sri Lanka.
- To the south of Lakshadweep lies the Maldives, Not far from the Andaman and Nicobar islands lie our closest South-East Asian neighbors: Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.
The Indian Subcontinent
India is called a subcontinent because of its vastness and distinct physical and cultural identity. The countries that form the Indian subcontinent are Pakistan in the northwest, India at the core, Nepal in the north, Bhutan in the northeast, and Bangladesh in the east.
Some Interesting Knowledge
(i) The southernmost point of the Indian Union – ‘Indira Point’ got submerged under the sea water in 2004 during the Tsunami.
(ii) Since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, India’s distance from Europe has been reduced by 7000 km.
(iii) Before 1947, there were two types of states in India – the provinces and the princely states. Provinces were ruled directly by British officials who were appointed by the Viceroy.
Princely states were ruled by local, hereditary rulers, who acknowledged sovereignty in return for local autonomy.