6 Geography

Our Country India

Learning Goals:

  • Locational Setting of India
  • India’s Neighbours
  • Political and Administrative Divisions
  • Physical Divisions

India: An Overview

India is a vast country. It is the seventh largest country in the world; in terms of area. India is the second most populous country in the world. According to the 2011 census, the population of India is more than 1.2 billion.

Area: 3.28 million square km
North-south extent from Kashmir to Kanyakumari: 3,200 km
East-west extent from Arunachal Pradesh to Kuchchh: 2,900 km

Locational Setting of India

India is located in the northern hemisphere. From south to north, the main land of India extends between 8o4’ N and 37o6’ N. From west to east, the main land of India extends between 68o7’ E and 97o35’ E.

Indian Standard Time: The longitudinal extent of India is 29o which is huge. Hence, there could be wide differences in local timings. Due to great longitudinal extent, the sun rises about two hours earlier in Arunachal Pradesh than in Gujarat. To keep things simple, the local time has been fixed as per the longitude 82o30’ E. This longitude is called the Standard Meridian of India.

India’s Neighbours

Many countries share their borders with India. Afghanistan and Pakistan are towards west of India. China, Nepal and Bhutan are towards north of India. Bangladesh and Myanmar are towards east of India. Sri Lanka and Maldives are towards south of India. Sri Lanka is separated by India by the Pak Straits.

Political and Administrative Divisions

India has been divided into 29 states. Rajasthan is the largest state and Goa is the smallest state. There are 7 union territories in India. All the states are further divided into smaller administrative units; called districts. Delhi is the National Capital of India.

Physical Divisions

India is a diverse country; in terms of physical features. It can be divided into following physical divisions:

  • The Himalayan Mountains
  • The Northern Plains
  • The Great Indian Desert
  • The Deccan Plateau
  • Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats

The Himalayan Mountains: The Himalayan Mountains are in the north of the Indian subcontinent. The Himalayan Mountains are divided into three parallel ranges, viz. the Great Himalaya or Himadri, the Middle Himalaya or Himachal and the Shivalik.

  • The Great Himalaya: This is the northernmost range. The highest peaks of the world are located in this range.
  • The Middle Himalaya: This range is towards south of the Great Himalayas. Many popular hill stations are in this range.
  • The Shivalik: This is the southernmost range. The elevation in this range is low compared to in the other two ranges.
physical features of india

The Northern Plains: The Northern Plains lie to the south of the Himalayas. These plains are formed by the rivers; the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra and their tributaries. The lands are highly fertile in this region. Hence, this region has very high population density.

The Great Indian Desert: The Great Indian Desert lies in the western part of India. This is a dry, hot and sandy stretch of land. There is very little vegetation in this region. This is also called the Thar Desert.

The Deccan Plateau: The Deccan Plateau lies towards south of the Northern Plains. This is triangular in shape. There are many hill ranges and valleys in this region, e.g. Aravali hills, the Vindhyas and the Satpuras. The Deccan Plateau is rich in minerals.

Narmada and Tapi are important rivers which flow through the Deccan Plateau. These rivers flow towards west and drain into the Arabian Sea.

Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats: The Western Ghats mark the western boundary of the Deccan Plateau, while the Eastern Ghats mark the eastern boundary. The Western Ghats are almost continuous but the Eastern Ghats are broken and uneven.

The Coastal Plains: The Coastal Plains lie to the west of the Western Ghats and to the east of the Eastern Ghats. The western coastal plains are very narrow. The eastern coastal plains are much broader. The rivers Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna and Kaveri flow in this region. These are east-flowing rivers and drain into the Bay of Bengal.

These rivers have formed deltas at their mouth. These deltas are highly fertile. Delta is a landform which is formed at the mouth of a river. The place where a river meets an ocean is called the mouth of the river.

The Islands: Lakshadweep Islands and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are also part of India. The Lakshadweep Islands are in the Arabian Sea. These are coral islands. A coral island is formed by corals and other organic materials. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands are in the Bay of Bengal.