Basic Information

Official name Republic of India
Other names India, Bharat, Hindustan
Area (1) Total: 3,287,263
HKH part: 482,920 (15%)
Population  (mid 2007) (2) Total: 1,131.90 million
HKH part: 72.36 million  (6%)
Capital city New Delhi
Major cities  Agra, Ahmedabad , Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Thiruvananthapuram, Guwahati
Nationality  Indian
Currency  Rupee
Official language(s) Hindi, English and other 8th Schedule languages
National days 26th January (Republic Day)
15th August (Independence Day)
2nd October (Gandhi Jayanti)
Major holidays  Deepawali, Dusshera, Ramnavmi, Holi, Bakar-id, Maha Shivaratri, Christmas, Mahavir Jayanti, Guru Nanak Jayanti, Budha Purnima
International dialling code  91

Sources: (1) Banskota, M., Sharma, P., 1994, Development of Poor Mountain Areas, ICIMOD; (2) Census of India, Population Projection, 2007

Major mountains

  • Kangchenjunga (8,586 m)
  • Nanda Devi (7,816 m)
  • Kamet (7,756 m)
  • Saser Kangri (7,672 m)
  • Mana (7,273m)

Selected international agreements and conventions related to climate and environment

Agreement/Convention Status -Date
Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer (Vienna Convention) -1988 Accession - 18 March 1991
Convention on Biological Diversity Signed - 05 June 1992
Ratified - 18 February 1994
The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety Signed - 23 January 2001
Ratified - 17 January 2003
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Ratified - 20 July 1976
Entry into force - 18 October 1976
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals Entry into force - 01 November 1983
Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal (Basel Convention) - 1992 Signed - 15 March 1990
Ratified - 24 June 1992
Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention) Entry into force - 01 Feburary 1982
Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, Particularly in Africa - 1994 Signed - 14 October 1994
Ratified - 17 December 1996
Entry into force - 17 March 1997
International treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture -2001 Signed - 10 June 2002
Ratified - 10 June 2002
International Plant Protection Convention - 1952 Signed - 30 April 1952
Ratified - 09 June 1952
International Tropical Timber Agreement - 1994 Signed - 17 September1996
Ratified - 17 October 1996
Plant Protection Agreement for the Asia and the Pacific Region - 1956 Signed - 02 July 1956
United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Signed - 10 December 1982
Ratified - 29 June 1995
Male Declaration on Control and Prevention of Air Pollution and its Likely Transboundary Effects for South Asia Endorsed - April 1998
United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Signed - 10 June 1992
Ratified - 01 November 1993
Entry into force - 21 March 1994
Kyoto Protocol Accession - 26 August 2002
Entry into force - 16 February 2005


GDP per capita $3,200 (2009 est.)
Source: India-The World Factbook, Central Intelligence Agency

Major agricultural/farm products
India is a biomass-based country where about 2/3rd of the population depend on agriculture for subsistence. Major farming products include rice, wheat, bajra, jowar, oilseed, rapeseed, mustard, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes;  cttle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, poultry; and fish

Major Industries

Textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum, machinery, software

Geography / Geopolitics
Altitude range
Lowest point: 0 m (Indian Ocean)
Highest point: 8,586 m (Kangchenjunga)

Major agro-climatic zones
The Planning Commission has demarcated the geographical area of India into 15 agro-climatic regions, namely: 
The climate of India may be broadly described as tropical monsoon type. There are four seasons: (i) winter (January-February), (ii) hot weather summer (March-May); (iii) rainy southwestern monsoon (June-September) and (iv) post-monsoon, also known as northeast monsoon in the southern Peninsula (October-December). India's climate is affected by two seasonal winds: the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoon. The north-east monsoon, commonly known as the winter monsoon blows from land to sea, whereas the south-west monsoon, known as the summer monsoon blows from sea to land after crossing the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal. The south-west monsoon brings most of the annual rainfall.
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  • Western Himalayan Region
  • Eastern Himalayan Region
  • Lower Gangetic Plains Region
  • Middle Gangetic Plains Region
  • Upper Gangetic Plains Region
  • Trans-Gangetic Plains Region
  • Eastern Plateau and Hills Region
  • Central Plateau and Hills Region
  • Western Plateau and Hills Region
  • Southern Plateau and Hills Region
  • East Coast Plains and Hills Region
  • West Coast Plains and Ghat Region
  • Gujarat Plains and Hills Region
  • Western Dry Region, and
  • The Islands Region

The climate of India may be broadly described as a tropical monsoon type. There are four seasons: (i) winter (January-February), (ii) hot weather summer (March-May); (iii) rainy southwestern monsoon (June-September) and (iv) post-monsoon, also known as northeast monsoon in the southern Peninsula (October-December). India's climate is affected by two seasonal winds - the northeast monsoon and the southwest monsoon. The north-east monsoon, commonly known as winter monsoon blows from land to sea, whereas south-west monsoon, known as summer monsoon blows from sea to land after crossing the Indian Ocean, the Arabian Sea, and the Bay of Bengal. The south-west monsoon brings most of the rainfall during a year in the country.

Natural hazards
Natural hazards such as droughts, landslides, and flash floods, cause hundreds of deaths and causalities every year. Destructive flooding from the monsoonal rains is also widespread. Earthquakes are inevitable since the Himalayan arc is one of the most seismically active regions of the world. Considering the fragility of the Indian Himalayan region, the Planning Commission published a task force report on “The Mountain Ecosystems (Environment and Forest Sectors)” for 11th Five Year Plan (2007-2011), which incorporates information on the state-of-the-art of the mountain environment, analysis of the potential impacts of climate change, review of institutional and individual capacities to address conservation and sustainable use of mountain Biodiversity and reviews the new EIA guidelines issued by Ministry of Environments and Forests. India is also especially vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change and over 2% of the GDP is currently spent on measures to adapt to these impacts   
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Major environmental issues
The government of India considers land degradation, biodiversity, air pollution (vehicular pollution in the cities), management of fresh water resources, and hazardous waste management (municipal solid waste management) as priority issues for environmental management. Besides, deforestation, soil erosion, overgrazing, desertification, air pollution from industrial effluents, water pollution from raw sewage and runoff of agricultural pesticides, huge and growing population, energy  conservation, and forest conservation are some of the major environmental challenges. Regarding issues on energy consumption, the government through mitigation measures are promoting access to clean energy. Similarly broad areas where adaptation programmes are developed include crop improvement, drought proofing, disaster management, health, and livelihood preservation. The National Environment Policy 2006  provides the basis for the integration of environmental considerations in the policies of various sectors. The National Committee to Assess the Impacts of Climate Change is chaired by the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Prime Minister, and includes meteorologists, climate modellers, hydrologists,  and energy economists, as well as representatives of key Ministries. The Committee is evaluating the impact of climate change on key development, identifies key intervention priorities, and monitors the implementation of these interventions.


Major ethnic groups

The National Census of India does not recognise racial or ethnic groups within India but recognises tribal groups as scheduled castes and tribes. Major linguistic groups include Indo-Aryan (72%), Dravidian (25%), Mongoloid and others (3%)

Major religions
India is a country of diverse religions. The Constitution of India declares the nation to be a secular country showing respect to all religions. Hindu constitutes an overwhelming majority accounting for 80% of the population. The other large religion in India is Islam (13%) followed by religions such as Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism.

Major languages
There are 22 national languages recognised by the Constitution of India, of which Hindi is the official national language and a primary language of 30% of the people in the country; the other languages are Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Dogri, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, Kashmiri, Konkani, Maithili, Malayalam, Manipuri, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Punjabi, Sanskrit, Santhali, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, Urdu. In addition, there are 844 different dialects used in various parts of the Country. English often forms the most important language for national, political, and commercial communications

Major festivals
Festivals in India reflect the country’s diversity of culture and traditions and vary among states and communities. The festivals characterise the spirits of Indian mythology and heritage. The majority of the festivals in India are celebrated with vibrant colours, festivity, and much devotion, often emphasising in societal integrity. Festivals such as Holi are celebrated all over the country irrespective of caste and religion. Deepawali, the Festival of Lights is one of the most significant of all Hindu festivals, while Eid-ul-Fitr is the most auspicious one for Muslims and Onam is the most prominent festival in Kerala.

Focal Ministry

Ministry of Environment and Forests
Government of India
Paryavaran Bhavan, CGO Complex
Lodhi Road, New Delhi - 110 003

Dr V. Rajagopalan
Tel: 91 11 24361669, 24360605, 24360570
Fax: 91 11 24362746

Focal Institution

G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development
Kosi-Katarmal, Almora – 263 643
Uttarakhand, INDIA
Tel: 91 5962 241041, 241154 (O)
Fax: 91 5962 241150, 241014, 224104, 231507