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The Indian subcontinent, also Indian Subcontinent and other terms, is a region of the Asian (and, in turn, the Eurasian) continent on the Indian tectonic plate south of the Himalayas, forming a land mass which extends southward into the Indian Ocean.

The Indian subcontinent generally comprises the countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; it often also includes Nepal, Bhutan, and offshore Sri Lanka and may include the Maldives.

Overall, it accounts for about 34% of Asia's population (or over 16.5% of the world's population) and is home to a vast array of peoples.


Historically forming the whole of greater India or the territories of the British Raj, the region now comprises the countries of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh; it often also includes Nepal, Bhutan, and offshore Sri Lanka. It may also include the island country of Maldives. The region may also include the disputed territory of Aksai Chin, which was part of the British Indian princely state of Jammu and Kashmir, but is now administered as a part of the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang. A booklet published by the United States Department of State in 1959 includes Afghanistan, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India, Nepal, and Pakistan as part of the "Subcontinent of South Asia". When the term Indian Subcontinent is used to mean South Asia, the islands countries of Sri Lanka and the Maldives are sometimes not included, while [Tibet]] and Nepal are included and excluded intermittently, depending on the context.

Due to similar scope, the terms "Indian subcontinent" and "South Asia" are used by some academics interchangeably. Due to political sensitivities, some prefer to use the terms "South Asian Subcontinent", the "Indo-Pak Subcontinent", or simply "South Asia" or "the Subcontinent" over the term "Indian subcontinent". According to some academics, the term "South Asia" is in more common use in Europe and North America, rather than the terms "Subcontinent" or the "Indian Subcontinent". Indologist Ronald B. Inden argues that the usage of the term "South Asia" is getting more widespread since it clearly distinguishes the region from East Asia; however, opinion on this is divided.


Geographically, the Indian subcontinent is a peninsular region in south-central Asia, rather resembling a diamond which is delineated by the Himalayas on the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east, and which extends southward into the Indian Ocean with the Arabian Sea to the southwest and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast. With all seven countries included, the area covers about 4.4 million km² (1.7 million mi²), which is 10% of the Asian continent or 2.4%of the world's land surface area.


Most of this region rests on a distinct tectonic plate, the Indian Plate (the northerly portion of the Indo-Australian Plate), and is isolated from the rest of Asia by mountain barriers. It was once a small continent before colliding with the Eurasian Plate about 50-55 million years ago and giving birth to the Himalayan range and the Tibetan plateau. In addition, it is also home to a variety of geographical features, such as glaciers, rainforests, valleys, deserts, and grasslands.

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original article was at Indian subcontinent. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.