India is a land of diverse cultures, languages, and traditions. It is also home to some of the most spectacular natural landscapes in the world. Although India is commonly viewed as a single country, it is in fact a subcontinent that forms its own continent. Referred to as “Maa” or “Bharat Varsha” in Hindi, and known as the Indian subcontinent by geographers, India is not technically a continent. However, it does meet the criteria for being its own distinct geological landmass with unique attributes that separate it from other continents. Let’s take a closer look at why this distinction matters so much — and whether or not India qualifies as its own continent.
Is India A Continent?
No, India is not a continent. The seven continents are Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Australia, and Antarctica. India is a country in South Asia.
What Is The Reason India Is Not A Continent?
India is not technically a ‘continent’
First things first, let’s understand what a ‘continent’ is. A ‘continent’ is a large, continuous, and distinct biophysical landmass, surrounded by and connected to an ocean or a sea. The seven continents on the planet, in order of size, are Asia, Africa, North America, South America, Antarctica, Europe, and Australia. While Asia and Africa are the two largest landmasses on the planet, the Indian subcontinent is not considered a standalone continent by the WGC because it is not large enough, distinct enough, and does not have enough ecological and geographic integrity to be considered one. Therefore, the Indian subcontinent is not a continent.
India does not have distinct borders
Let’s take a look at the geography of the Indian subcontinent. The Indian subcontinent covers an area of about 4,46,000 square kilometers. Out of this, the Indian territory covers an area of 3,40,000 square kilometers. This means that almost 80% of the Indian subcontinent is covered by water (Bay of Bengal, Arabian Sea, etc.). The only portion of the Indian subcontinent that is not covered by water is the Indo-Gangetic Plain. This plain is also the most densely populated part of the Indian subcontinent. Now, let’s take a look at the geography of the different continents. The Asian continent covers an area of about 17,212,000 square kilometers. The continent has an area that is almost 50 times larger than that of the Indian subcontinent.
India does not have a specific climate type
The Asian continent has a specific climate type: the Tropical climate type. This climate type is characterized by high temperatures, high humidity, abundant rainfall, and abundant vegetation. The Indian subcontinent has a Tropical climate type too. But Tropical climates are found in almost all tropical regions of the world. So this climate type is not specific to the Indian subcontinent. As a result, the Indian subcontinent does not have a specific climate type.
India does not have its own unique flora and fauna
You might be wondering what flora and fauna are. Simply put, the flora is the collective name for all the plants of a region, while fauna is the collective name for all the animals of a region. While almost all the continents have their own distinct flora and fauna, the Indian subcontinent does not. The Indian subcontinent shares its flora and fauna with its neighboring regions (Asian continent, Southeast Asia, etc.). This is because the Indian subcontinent is connected to its neighboring regions via land.
India is too small to be recognized as a continent
The Asian continent has a geographical area that is almost 50 times larger than that of the Indian subcontinent. Additionally, the Asian continent has a distinct climate type. This makes it a continent in its own right. But the Indian subcontinent is simply too small to be a continent. In fact, it has a geographical area that is just one-ninth of the Asian continent. The Indian subcontinent is simply too small to be recognized as a continent.
Additionally, the Indian subcontinent does not have its own unique flora and fauna. Nor does it have distinct borders or a specific climate type. This makes it impossible for the Indian subcontinent to be recognized as a distinct continent.
There’s no consensus on whether or not India is a continent
Even though the Indian subcontinent does not have a specific climate type, distinct borders, or its own unique flora and fauna, there are people who believe that it is a continent in its own right. The reason behind this is the sheer population of the Indian subcontinent. The Indian subcontinent has the second-highest population on the planet. Only the Asian continent has a higher population than that. But since there is no consensus regarding this, the Indian subcontinent is not a continent.
Biodiversity And Climate Differences Between India And The Rest Of Asia
- India is the second most biodiverse country in the world. It has 10 % of the world’s biodiversity, with a much lower proportion of its land area. It has a larger number of flowering plants, conifers, orchids, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals than any other country in the world. India is home to 8% of all mammalian, 12% of all avian, and 6% of all flowering plant species in the world.
- India’s biodiversity is rich in comparison to most other countries partly due to its size and topography. It is a long country extending from tropical rain forests at one end to alpine meadows at another end with humid tropical plains in between. Due to this variation, there are many different types of ecosystems and habitats within India which gives it an advantage over other countries where there may be only one type of ecosystem or habitat due to geographical constraints like mountains or oceans.
- Higher precipitation levels and the perennial nature of many rivers in India attract more biodiversity than other parts of Asia, which are either dry or have seasonal rainfall.
- The Himalayas and the associated mountain ranges provide a water divide between India and its neighboring countries, thereby acting as a barrier to the migration of species.
- The Indian climate is also highly variable from region to region, which adds to the biodiversity in the country. The Indian monsoon winds play an important role in this variability by carrying moisture across long distances and by initiating atmospheric circulation patterns that affect large areas of Asia.
What Are The Features Of India?
- India is a country of varied landscapes, from the tropical rain forests of Kerala to the glaciers and lakes of Kashmir.
- The Indian subcontinent has been home to some of the most ancient cultures in the world.
- India has more than 2,000 languages, with Hindi, Urdu, and English being the most widely spoken.
- The country’s capital city is New Delhi, which is also its largest city.
- India has a parliamentary form of government with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government (as in Great Britain).7. India has a large middle class that makes it an important consumer market for U.S products and services.8.(a) India’s main religions are Hinduism (81%), Islam (12%), Christianity (2%), Sikhism (1%), and Buddhism (<1%).9. (b) India’s main languages are Hindi-Urdu (44%), Bengali (18%), Telugu (8%), Marathi (6%), Tamil (5%), Gujarati, Kannada, and Malayalam (5%).10. (c) The main religions in India are Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.
At the end of the day, the difference between a subcontinent and a continent is largely a matter of semantics. When people refer to the “seven continents,” they are generally referring to the seven landmasses that form the basis of their classification schemes. As we’ve seen, India has many of the hallmarks of a continent. However, when people talk about the “seven continents,” they are generally referring to the seven landmasses that form the basis of their classification schemes. If we view the subcontinent as a subcontinent, we are likely to classify it as part of South Asia. In contrast, if we view it as a continent, we are likely to classify it as a distinct region in its own right.
Can the Indian subcontinent be classified as a continent?
Yes, it can. But the Indian subcontinent is also considered as a part of South Asia. So, there is no strict classification to it.
Is India the largest country in South Asia?
Yes, it is the largest country in South Asia.
What are the political divisions of India?
India has 29 states and 7 union territories (Delhi, Chandigarh, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, and Andaman and the Nicobar Islands). The union territories are governed directly by India’s central government.