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The Climate and the Land



India is known as a "subcontinent", with an area of about 3.3 million square kilometers. Northern India is separated from the rest of Asia by the Himalayan Mountains. The country is surrounded by the Bay of Bengal in the east, the Arabian Sea to the west, and the Indian Ocean to the south.

This immense land mass has many climatic and physical variations. The temperature, and environment change drastically as one travels through the country. Likewise, the land itself changes; there are mountains and deserts, vast plains and tropical jungles. Yet, it is all one nation.

India is divided into three large geographic regions:

  • The Himalayan region in the north,
  • The Gangetic Plain,
  • The plateau region in the south and central areas.
There are also three main river systems: the Ganges, the Indus, and the Brahmaputra. All begin in the Himalayas.




Northern India:

The Himalayas are the largest mountain range in the world, extending 2,500 kilometers and dominating Northern India. The range is bounded by the Indus and the Bhramaputra Rivers. The Western Himalayas include the Kashmir region, while the central peaks extend over Uttar Pradesh state. Eastern Himalayan mountains reach into North Bengal, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.

This mountain range and the rivers near it impact other areas of the land as well. The force of the rivers eroding the mountains feeds the green plains. Eventually, the Ganga and Brahmaputra rivers join to form the world's largest delta near the Bay of Bengal.

The Himalayas slowly flatten to create the forests of Srinagar and Jammu. Soon, this too gives way to the plains of Punjab and the foothills of the mountains in Uttar Pradesh.




Rajasthan:

Just below the Himalayas is Rajasthan, known for its Thar Desert. The Thar actually extends into parts of the states of Gujarat, Haryana, and Punjab as well as Rajasthan. It derives its name from the word "thul", meaning sand ridges. The desert recieves less than 10 inches of rain per year and supports only sparce vegetation. Yet, it yields salt and gypsum.

This area was originally a secure fortress for the Rajput princes. Today,it has 23 species of lizards and about as many snakes. Birds are seen everywhere. There are also gazelle, sand grouse, and other animals.



Western India:

Western States include Gujarat, Maharashtra, and even Goa in the Southwest. These coastal areas are generally more temperate than Northern areas and engage in much commerce and trade. The west is separated from the Thar Desert by the Aravalli Mountains. In this section of India, there are plains and highlands that produce millet, wheat, and pulses. There is also a thriving fishing industry. The Western Ghats are a steep mountain barrier along the western coast. The Ghats separate this green area from the drier inland plateau region.

In the southwest, the Deccan plateau begins, with a hotter forest climate. The Deccan plateau covers about 43% of India's total land surface. The four major rivers support the wetlands, creating a fertile soil with many species of animal and plant life such as bear, chital, buffaloes, and elephant. The Deccan plateau extends into the East and South as well.



The East:

The Northeast has rich biological resources, as it is mainly tropical land with evergreen and semi-evergreen rain forests. There are also swamps and grasslands. The coastal region in the East is largely made up of mangroves and submerged coral reefs.

Also in the East are the Gangetic Plains, extending from eastern Rajasthan through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal. This is a forest area and is one of the most fertile regions of the nation.



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The creator of this site would like to thank:
The Government of India tourist office in Europe (http://india-tourism.com/eindex.cfm)
Interknowledge India
The Library of Congress country study: India (http://lcweb2.loc.gov/frd/cs/intoc.html)