India, the Indian empire of the British crown, is an extensive region of southern Asia, and next after China the most populous area in the world. The name India is a Greek word from the Persian Hind, the Persian form of Sindhu, a Sanskrit name for the Indus River. Hindustan is properly only a province - the region of the Jumna and the Ganges. 'Further India' is the Indo-Chinese peninsula.

India is the central peninsula of southern Asia, and lies in 8° 4' - 35° N. lat. and 67° - 92° E. long., with a length of some 1900 miles, a breadth of 1600, and an area - inclusive of Burma - of 1,766,650 sq. m. The natural boundaries of this vast region are, on the N., the range of the Himalaya Mountains, which separates it from Tartary, China, and Tibet; on the W. the mountainous frontiers of Afghanistan and, further south, of Persia; on the SW. and S. the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean; on the E. the hill-ranges which border upon Burma and the Bay of Bengal. The region presents a diversified surface and scenery. It has indeed been called 'an epitome of the whole earth,' consisting as it does of mountains far above the level of perpetual snow, broad and fertile plains, bathed in intense sunshine, arid wastes, and impenetrable forests. Its natural divisions are the Himalaya, the sub-Himalayan ranges, the plains of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, the basin of the Indus, the highlands of Hindustan, the Vindhya and Sat-pura ranges, and the peninsula south of those ranges. The Himalaya (q.v.) is the dominating factor in the geography of northern India, being the source of the Indus, the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and of their principal affluents. The sub-Himalayan ranges, between the Himalaya and the plains of the Ganges and Indus, occupy Cashmere, the Simla hill-states, Gurhwal, Kumaon, Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan, which, owing to their elevation above the sea (5000 to 9000 feet), have a climate like central Europe in summer and cold as Switzerland in winter. The plains of the Ganges and the Brahmaputra, which include Bengal, Behar, the Doab, Oudh, and Rohilcund, form an alluvial flat, terminating in a delta at the Bay of Bengal. The Punjab occupies the northern portion of the basin of the Indus. South of the Punjab, and parallel with the river, the great sandy desert of the Indus extends for nearly 500 miles. The valley of the Indus is continued through Sind to the Arabian Sea. Between the Indus region and the Aravalli Hills lies the Thur desert, 400 miles long and 100 broad. It is only in the neighbourhood of the Indus and some of its tributaries that the surface can be cultivated by means of river-irrigation. The highlands of Hindustan include the tableland of Malwa and Rajputana or Rajasthan, which has an elevation of about 2000 feet.

The Vindhya and Satpura ranges, running from east to west, with an elevation from 2500 to 4000 feet, form, with the Nerbudda River between them, a broad wall dividing northern from southern India. The peninsula south of the Satpura range is in two divisions. The first, the Deccan (q.v.), is a central tableland rising from 1500 to 2000 feet above the sea, and enclosed on all sides by mountain-ranges. These ranges are the Satpuras, the Eastern Ghats, and the Western Ghats. Between the Eastern Ghats and the sea are fertile littoral tracts known to history as the Northern Circars and the Carnatic. Between the Western Ghats and the sea is a similar tract known geographically as the Konkan. As a northern continuation of this tract is Gujarat, with its offshoots the peninsulas of Kathiawar and Cutch. From the low land of the Konkan to the Deccan plateau the mountains rise in a succession of gigantic terraces. The rivers of the Deccan rise in the Western Ghats, and, after traversing the tableland, descend to the sea by passages through the Eastern Ghats. The slope of the country corresponds with the course of the rivers ; it has a gradual eastward inclination. The second division begins geographically from the hills south of Cuddapah, extends right down to Cape Comorin as to the apex of an inverted triangle, and includes Madras, Tanjore, Trichino-poli, and Tinnevelli.

There are auriferous deposits in parts of the Deccan. Silver has never been discovered in appreciable quantity within the country; in the Shan dependencies of Burma, however, it is extracted from lead ore. Coal is obtained largely in western Bengal, in the Satpura Hills to a considerable extent, and in the Deccan to some extent. Iron and copper are found and worked in many parts of the country. Diamonds are still found in the central hills, and ruby-mines are worked near the Irawadi. The mineral resources on the whole are less important than the agricultural. In a country extending over 26° of latitude - one extremity of which runs far into the torrid zone, and the other terminates in a range of mountains rising far above the line of perpetual snow - a country embracing lowland plains, elevated plateaus, and alpine regions, the climate must be extremely varied. The whole country has three well-marked seasons - the cool, the hot, and the rainy. This characteristic applies even to the Himalayas, which have otherwise a climate like that of Switzerland. The cool months are November, December, January, and a part of February ; the dry hot weather precedes, and the moist hot weather follows the periodical rains. The rainy season falls in the middle of summer; its beginning is earlier or later according to circumstances, its ending is in September. The winter is the pleasant period; the spring is generally hot and healthy ; the summer depends on the duration of the rains ; the autumn is close, malarious, and unhealthy. The occasional failure of the monsoon causes the periodical famines to which the country is liable. The central tableland is cool comparatively. In the north-west there is burning heat with hot winds in summer, and frost at night in winter. In the south the heat is more tempered, but the winter is cool only, and not cold. In the north-eastern and other outlying parts the rainfall exceeds 75 inches (at Cherra Punji 600 inches) in the year; in the Deccan, in the upper basins of the Ganges and the Indus, it is 30, and in the lower regions of the Indus less than 15 inches. The remainder of India is placed between the extremes represented by these damp and dry belts, but is, as coinpared with Europe, an arid country. Hence the necessity of tanks and irrigation canals.

The domesticated animals are, first, the cattle - cows, buffaloes, oxen; the last two do the work of agriculture. The bull and cow are sacred animals to Hindus, and by them are never killed for food. The indigenous breeds of horses in India are being improved by the importation of foreign sires. They have never been employed in agriculture. The pony, the donkey, and the mule are largely used. Sheep and goats are abundant. The pig is plentiful, but is despised by the upper and middle classes of the people. The wild animals include the tiger, panther, cheetah, boar, bear, bison, elephant, and rhinoceros. The crocodile and alligator infest most of the rivers. Deer of all sorts abound everywhere, and mainly supply sustenance to the carnivorous animals. The monkeys are tame and are held sacred. The lion, the hyaena, the lynx, and the wolf are unimportant. The elephant is used for purposes of war or of state. The ibex and the ovis-ammon (the wild goat and the wild sheep) are found only in the highest parts of the Himalayas. Poisonous snakes abound, the worst being the cobra da capello (the black-hooded): many thousands of the natives die from snakebite in the year. The birds are infinitely various. Nearly half of the country is tropical, though none of it is equatorial, and a part is not only temperate, but cold; accordingly the vegetation varies greatly. As compared with equatorial regions, the country has tropical products plentiful and good, but not first-rate, such as tobacco, sugar, ginger, and spices of all sorts. Rice has from time immemorial been a staple. Maize and millet are articles of food for the stronger races. Oil-seeds are largely exported. The cultivation of wheat has greatly developed for exportation since the development of railways and the opening of the Suez Canal. Tea is grown largely under European supervision in the Eastern Himalayas, and already surpasses the China teas. Coffee is grown in the south, but with chequered success. Among the dyes, indigo and lac (red) are noteworthy. The indigenous flowers are not rich, the water-lilies being the best; the flowering shrubs are very fine. Of trees in the plains near the coasts the palm order with its several varieties strikes the observer. Inland the mango fruit-tree and the orange, the umbrageous banyan, the sacred peepul, and the bamboo are features in the landscape. In the hills the teak and other useful timber trees are obtained. In the Himalayas are the cedar, the pine, the fir, the juniper. Conservation of forests is now carefully attended to. Barely one-third of the whole country is cultivated or grazed. Of the remainder a portion is available for cultivation ; the rest is unculti-vable - hillsides, deserts, river-beds, etc.

At the census of 1881, the total pop. was 253 millions for the British territories and the native states; in 1901, 294 millions including Burma, but excluding Ceylon, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, and the small French, Portuguese, and Dutch territories. Including these the population may be stated at 300 millions. But though populous, the country is not as a whole densely peopled; the average per sq. in. being 213 for the British area, 98 for native states, and 167 for the whole country. Only 30 millions are urban. Calcutta has 1,026,987 inhabitants, Bombay 976,006, and Madras 509,346; below these there are other 26 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants, and 49 more with over 50,000. The inhabitants of India speak languages belonging to four very different stocks - Aryan, Dravidian, Kolarian, and Tibeto-Burman. The Aryans, the dominant people of India, speak tongues derived from the ancient Sanskrit, the more important being Bengali, Uriya, Hindi, Sindhi, Kashmiri, and Gujarati (Sinhalese is the language of Ceylon). Urdu or Hindustani, formed after the Moslem conquest, is Hindi mixed with Persian and Arabic words. Of the Dravidian tongues of the Deccan, the chief are Tamil, Telugu, Canarese, and Malayalam. The Kolarian tongues are named from the Kol hill-tribes in the Central Provinces. The Tibeto-Burman tongues are agglutinative. Of the total pop. 207,147,026 are Hindus or Brahminists in faith, 62,458,077 Mohammedans, 8,584,148 aboriginal pagans, 9,476,759 Buddhists (almost all in Burma), 2,195,339 Sikhs (modified Hindus), 1,334,148 Jains (also a modified Hindu sect), 94,190 Parsees (chiefly In Bombay), 2,923,241 Christians (of whom 1,202,169 are Roman Catholics), and 18,228 Jews. The inhabitants of India, accordingly, so far from being one nation or people, are a congeries of peoples differing widely in blood, physique, character, language, and religion. Since Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress, India is an empire, including the British territories and the Indian allies, feudatories, and vassals from the Tibetan and Tartar watershed of the Himalayas to Cape Comorin. The empire is under one supreme authority in India - the Viceroy and Governor-general in Council. It may thus be divided into two categories - the British territories, comprising about three-fifths of the total area, and four-fifths of the total population; and the native states. The Himalayan states of Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan do not ordinarily appear in the official tables, though they are in communication with British political agents. In their internal affairs they are uncontrolled. The native states which appear in the official tables occupy more than a third of the area of the empire, and contain more than one-fifth of its entire population :

Native States and Agencies.

Area in sq. miles.

Population, 1901.

Beluchistan (Agency Tracts) ................



Baroda State .........................................



Bengal States .......................................



Bombay States .....................................



Central India Agency ...........................



Central Provinces States .......................



Hyderabad State ...................................



Cashmers State .....................................



Madras States ........................................



Mysore State..........................................



Punjab States .........................................



Rajputana Agency ................................



United Provinces States .......................



Total Native States.............



Hyderabad as given above is exclusive of Berar, which, though part of the Nizam's dominions, is administered as part of British India. The United Provinces Native States comprise those that were formerly (till 1901) described as in the North-west Provinces and Oudh.

The relations of the native princes to British authority differ very widely. Some are practically independent sovereigns, except that the suzerain power does not permit any of them to make war on one another, or to form alliances with foreign states; while some are under tolerably strict control. As a rule they govern their states under the advice of an English resident appointed by the Governor-general. There are in all about 300 states, allied or feudatory, great and small; they are divided into allied, tributary, and protected. Another classification is according to the religion and race of the native dynasty : Mahratta states, other Hindu states, Mohammedan states, and frontier states.

The British territories, containing 1,087,249 sq. m. and 231,899,507 souls, are broken up into nine divisions and six minor ones. They were originally in three divisions, called presidencies - Bengal, Madras, and Bombay. The old presidencies of Madras and Bombay still survive under governors in council as of yore; the Bengal Presidency, being much the largest, has been subdivided. The four main subdivisions are: Bengal, with Behar and Orissa; Eastern Bengal, with Assam ; the United Provinces of Agra and Oudh ; the Punjab, with Delhi. Each of these is under a lieutenant-governor. The Central Provinces and Burma have each a chief-commissioner. The North-west Frontier Province is under an agent to the governor-general; Ajmer-Merwara, British Beluchistan, Coorg, Berar, and the Andamans have each its commissioner.


Area in sq. miles.

Population, 1901.

Ajmer-Merwara ..................................



Andamans and Nicobars ....................



Assam .................................................



Beluchistan .........................................



Bengal .................................................



Berar ....................................................



Bombay Presidency ............................



Burma ................................................



Central Provinces ................................



Coorg ...................................................



Madras ...............................................



North-west Frontier Province..............



Punjab .................................................



United Provs. of Agra and Oudh ........



Total .................................



Burma includes the Shan States, the Chin Hills, and the Karen country. The North-west Frontier Province was formed in 1901 out of Peshawar, Kohat, and parts of three other Punjab districts, and areas occupied by frontier tribes. Agra and Oudh (till then in the North-west Provinces and Oudh) now constitute the United Provinces. In 1905 Bengal (q.v.) was divided into Bengal with Behar and Orissa, and Eastern Bengal with Assam. In 1858 the government was transferred from the East India Company to the crown. In 1877 the Queen assumed the title of Empress of India (Kaisar-i-Hind). The government of India is in the highest resort vested in a Secretary of State in London, who is a member of the cabinet, and has a parliamentary under-secretary and a council of ten to fifteen members. The executive government in India is administered by the Viceroy and Governor-general in Council, acting under the control of the Secretary of State for India. The Viceroy and Governor-general, appointed by the crown, is assisted by an executive council, consisting of six ordinary members (appointed by the crown), each of whom has charge of a department of the executive ; together with one extra-ordinary member, the commander-in-chief of the army. This council virtually sits as a cabinet. The legislation for the empire is conducted by a' legislative council,' composed of the members of the executive above mentioned, together with members, from six to twelve in number, appointed by the Viceroy and Governor-general. The larger units of administration are the districts or collectorships, of which there are in all the provinces above mentioned about 250, each under a collector-magistrate or deputy-commissioner. The head of the district has most multifarious and responsible duties ; he is fiscalofficer, charged with collecting the revenue, as well as magistrate, and besides superintends police, jails, education, sanitation, and roads. The administration is conducted by members of the Indian civil service, the great majority of whom are European, though some are natives. The service is recruited from the successful candidates at competitive examinations held in London ; but while the direction is in European hands, the local civil service, constituting the great mass of civil officials, consists of natives. In 1859 the troops of the East India Company became the Indian military forces of the British crown. The relations of the governor-general to the commander-in-chief in India and his other military advisers were rearranged in 1905. In 1904 the total strength of the army in India was 324,650. Of these 74,450 were British regulars, and 154,110 Indian regulars. In 1904 Lord Kitchener (commander-in-chief) made considerable changes in the organisation of the army. There are now three principal commands - the Northern, Western, and Eastern Army Corps, each under a lieutenant-general. The East Indies Squadron of the royal navy (4 cruisers and 3 attached vessels) is stationed at Bombay and Colombo.

The educational system, dating from 1854, comprises three principal universities at Calcutta, Madras, and Bombay, each having many affiliated colleges; there are also two new universities at Allahabad and Lahore. The other educational institutions are of several kinds, public, aided, private and unaided ; together they number 148,525, with 4,529,491 scholars. The total imports in 1890-91 had a value of near 94,000,000, in 1903-4 of 88,4S1,000 ; the exports in 1890-91 were valued at 102,300,000, in 1903-4 at 113,193,000. Of the imports more than four-fifths, and of the exports.more than half, pass by the Suez Canal. Again, of the imports nearly all come from the United Kingdom ; but of the exports a considerable portion is sent to other countries. Of the imports the principal item consists of cotton goods; next metals; then machinery, railway plant and rolling-stock, manufactured silk, sugar, and woollen manufactures. The principal items of export are coffee, raw cotton, cotton twist, yarn, manufactures, dyes, grains, including rice and wheat, hides and skins, jute raw and manufactured, seeds (oil chiefly), tea, wool. Of shipping, about 4550 vessels, with a tonnage of between 4,300,000 and 5,500,000 tons, enter the ports annually ; of these almost the whole are British. All this is exclusive of the coasting trade, valued at 70 millions annually. The length of railways open is over 25,950 miles, largely state lines (19,673 miles), the rest mainly guaranteed and assisted by the state. There are 56,000 miles of telegraphs. Of the total length of roads in India (160,000 miles) about one-third has been bridged and macadamised. The manufactures, whether in metals or in fibres, have always been very fine, and are still maintained. The local manufactures of cotton goods are very extensive ; but foreign trade has during the 19th century checked the development of indigenous manufactures, while it has stimulated new manufactures, especially in jute and cotton. The total length of the irrigation canals and their branches is calculated at 14,000 miles. The irrigated area in its grand total is reckoned at 33 millions of acres, of which over 14 1/2 millions are watered from canals. Owing to extensive failures of the monsoon rains at periodically recurring intervals, droughts and famines have occurred. In years of plenty a sum varying from 1 to 1 1/2 million sterling is set aside out of current income to meet the cost of relieving distress in time of famine. The revenue of the empire has since increased from 60,419,138 in 1891-92 to 76,355,400 in 1903-4, the expenditure from 59,107,699 to 75,406,500. The total debt in 1902 was 226,232,105, including 114i millions for railways and 24 millions for irrigation works. The depreciation of the rupee has greatly embarrassed Indian finance; it is now fixed at Is. 4d., or Rsl5 = l. The largest item of taxation is the land-tax (18 1/4 millions); the next salt (6 millions), opium (4| millions), and smaller amounts for stamps, excise, customs, etc. Owing to the excessive density of population in several parts of the empire, government has for many years past encouraged and facilitated emigration to the tropical and sub-tropical colonies. In the decade ending 1905, about 100,000 Indians emigrated as coolies to Mauritius, Natal, British Guiana, British West Indies, Fiji, French West Indies, and Surinam. There is also migration from the central regions to the rice-plains of Burma, and to the tea-plantations in Assam and in the Eastern Himalayas.

It is impossible to speak positively as to the aboriginal prehistoric populations of India; probably the most primitive peoples now left - the Dravidian hill-tribes represented by the Gonds, end Kolarians such as the Santals and Bhils - represent waves of invasion from the north. The history of civilisation in India may, however, be traced from the invasion - probably 1000 years or more B.C. - of the Aryan race from Central Asia, a race of the Indo-Germanic type in physique and speech. Their language was Sanskrit, their religion and civilisation that of the Vedas or ancient Hindu Scriptures. Out of the union of the Aryans with the earlier inhabitants, the modern races of India have sprung. Buddhism arose in India with the teaching of Buddha about 500 b.c, and for a while superseded the Vedic faith, corrupted as it had been by the degraded aboriginal superstitions ; and India was substantially Buddhist till the revival of Hinduism, in its modern or Brahmanic form (more idolatrous and superstitious than the ancient faith), in the 6th century a.d. In 1001 a.d. came the first wave of Mohammedanism, and soon all India fell under Mohammedan domination, though the bulk of the people clung to the Hindu religion. By the beginning of the 18th century a new Hindu power, that of the Mahrattas, arose, and seriously weakened the Moslem emperor, the Grand Mogul. The Dutch, Portuguese, and French, as well as the British established themselves in the empire ; in the 18th century the French more than rivalled the British in power. But the power of the British East India Company, originally traders, became dominant after the battle of Plassey in 1757. Gradually English power as represented by the Company, its diplomatists, and its soldiers, extended over great part of India, and the governors - Clive, Warren Hastings, Wellesley, Amherst, Bentinck, Dal-housie, Canning - consolidated what was really the empire of Britain in the East. Then in 1857 came the great mutiny, stamped out in blood, and the government was assumed by the British crown in 1858. British rule in India has been steadily consolidated, but no great annexation has since taken place, except that of Upper Burma in 1886.

See the Imperial Gazetteer of India (2d ed. 1887), Sir W. Hunter's India (3d ed. 1893), and works on India by Campbell, Monier Williams, Temple, Tupper, Strachey, Cotton, Holdich (1905); for history, Mill, Thornton, Marshman, Wheeler, Keene, Boulger, Frazer, Hunter (1903); and for the Mutiny, Forrest (1904).