33 interesting facts about India

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From (almost) the world’s most populous country to the world’s biggest film industry, these are the most interesting facts about India.

Interesting facts about India include the iconic Taj Mahal
Interesting facts about India include the iconic Taj Mahal (Shutterstock)

Fast facts

Official name: Republic of India
Population: 1.38 billion
Area: 3,287,263 sq km
Capital city: New Delhi
Major languages: Hindi, Bengali, Marathi, Telugu, Tamil, Gujarati, Urdu, Kannada, Odia, Malayalam, Punjabi, English
Major religions: Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism
Time zone: UTC+5.5 (Indian Standard Time)
– Source: CIA World Factbook

Interesting facts about India

1. India is a country located in South Asia bordering Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, China, Nepal and Pakistan.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

2. India is the world’s second-most populous nation after China and is one of only two countries with more than 1 billion people.
– Source: World Bank

3. However, India will become the world’s most populous country in 2023.
– Source: BBC News

A crowd of people in India
India is set to become the world’s most populous country (Shutterstock)

4. Modern humans have been in India for around 55,000 years but Hominid activity stretches back over 250,000 years.
– Source: Dyson, Tim (2018). A Population History of India: From the First Modern People to the Present Day. Oxford University Press: Oxford, World History Foundation

5. India is the home of some of the world’s oldest and most influential civilisations including the Mohenjo-daro and Harappan.
– Source: World History Foundation

6. India is the world’s seventh-largest country by area after Russia, Canada, the USA, China, Brazil and Australia.
– Source: World Bank

A map of India
India is the world’s seventh-biggest nation (Shutterstock)

7. The British arrived in India during the 1600s setting up trading posts under The British East India Company. In 1858, India – along with much of the subcontinent – came under direct British control.
– Source: BBC News

8. On August 15, 1947, India finally gained independence from Britain after decades of struggle.
– Source: New York Times

9. India’s flag consists of three horizontal stripes of orange, white and green with a 24-spoked blue chakra (wheel) in the centre.  The colours represent courage and sacrifice (orange), peace and truth (white) and faith and chivalry (green). The spoked wheel is the Dharma Chakra or “Wheel of the Law”.
– Source: Britannica

India's flag flying against blue sky
India’s flag (Shutterstock)

10. India’s only female prime minister, Indira Gandhi, was assassinated. Gandhi was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India. She was assassinated in 1984 during her second term as prime minister,
– Source: The History Channel

11. India initially included Pakistan and Bangladesh. However, in 1947, India split into two nations: Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority dual-states of East and West Pakistan. In 1971, India and Pakistan went to war over East Pakistan which led to the creation of Bangladesh.
– Source: BBC NewsBBC History

12. The partition of India caused the largest mass migration in human history – approximately 10 million people. As many as one million people died during the resulting riots and violence.
Source: BBC History

Map of India explaining partition
The partition of India saw mass migration (Historicair/CC by 3.0)

13. The 1979 Nobel Prize for Peace winner Mother Teresa spent much of her life in India. Mother Teresa was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016.
– Source: Britannica

14. As of 2022, India has 166 billionaires – the third-most of all countries.
– Source: Forbes

15. India’s Bollywood film industry (AKA Bombay cinema) is the world’s largest producer of films. In 2013, Bollywood released 1,724 films while the USA’s Hollywood made only 738.
– Source: Guinness World Records

An Indian actress on set
India has the world’s biggest film industry (Shutterstock)

16. It is believed the boardgame chess originated in the state of Uttar Pradesh in India around the 6th century AD.
– Source: Times of India, Britannica

17. Nearly 80% of India’s population is Hindu – over 1 billion people – meaning it has the largest Hindu population of any country. In fact, 94% of all the world’s Hindus live in India.
– Source: PEW Research Center, CIA World Factbook

18. In Hinduism, cows are considered sacred and are worshipped and decorated during festivals. As such, most Indian states forbid cow slaughter and beef consumption.
– Source: BBC News, Indian Express

A cow during a religious festival
Cows are sacred to many Indians (Shutterstock)

19. India has 40 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – only Italy, China, Germany, France and Spain have more.
– Source: UNESCO

20. India is the world’s sixth-largest economy.
– Source: World Bank

21. India’s and the subcontinent’s most famous site is the Taj Mahal. Completed in 1648, the Taj Mahal is a mausoleum to Mumtaz Mahal who was the chief consort of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan. She died in childbirth in 1631 and the heartbroken emperor devoted years and substantial funds to building a tomb for her.
– Source: Lonely Planet

The Taj Mahal during the day
The Taj Mahal (Shutterstock)

22. North Sentinel Island, home to one of the world’s most isolated tribes, is located in India. The ‘Sentinelis’ have attacked nearly every outsider who has visited the island, including an American missionary in 2018.
– Source: National Geographic

23. Meghalaya in India is believed to be the wettest place on Earth. The village of Mawsynram in Meghalaya receives 11,862mm (467in) of rain per year.
– Source: The Atlantic

24. Kangchenjunga, the world’s third-highest mountain and one of the eight-thousanders – the only mountains in the world over 8,000m (26,247ft) – is part-located in India. It sits on the border between India and Nepal.
– Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Kangchenjunga rising above a village in Darjeeling
Kangchenjunga is the world’s third-highest mountain (Shutterstock)

25. India is the world’s least meat-consuming country and has the most vegetarians in the world. Around 20% (approximately 280 million) of Indians are vegetarian. The country as a whole consumes 10.10 grams of meat per person per day.
– Source: Our World in Data, BBC News

26. What is thought to be the world’s largest family is from India. Ziona Chana, who died in 2021, had 39 wives, 94 children and 33 grandchildren – 167 members.
– Source: Reuters

27. The Golden Temple in India is the holiest site in Sikhism. Located in Amritsar, every Sikh tries to make at least one pilgrimage here during their lifetime.
– Source: Rough Guides

The Golden Temple reflected in the water
The Golden Temple in Amritsar (Shutterstock)

28. The Karni Mata Temple in India is known as the “Temple of Rats”. The Hindu temple has around 15,000 rats living there. The rats are considered sacred and believed to be their ancestors by the priests who reside there and therefore treated with the utmost care.
– Source: National Geographic (YouTube video)

29. In Ladakh in India, there is a “magnetic hill” – a downhill road that gives the optical illusion of a hill sloping upwards so that when in neutral, a car appears to roll uphill.
– Source: Government of India

30. The endangered Panthera tigris (or Bengal tiger) is the national animal of India. The populations of tigers in India are currently on the rise thanks to conservation efforts. The national bird is the Indian peacock and the national flower is the Lotus.
– Source: WWF, Government of India

A Bengal tiger in India
Interesting facts about India include the Bengal tiger (Shutterstock)

31. India’s English name comes from the Indus River while the Indian name “Bharat” comes from the Bharatas tribe, an early tribe that inhabited the region during the second millennium BC.
– Source: CIA World Factbook

32. Mumbai is famed for its Dabbawalas, workers who deliver hundreds of thousands of meals on foot and by bike. The network of delivers is over 125 years old.
– Source: BBC Future

33. The region of Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region in northern India, is also claimed by Pakistan. The dispute has been running since partition in 1947 and has caused decades of violence, including wars in 1947, 1965 and 1971.
– Source: National Geographic

Every effort has been made to verify these facts about India using primary sources. However, if you find an error or have any questions, please contact us.