Society

10 Things You Didn't Know About India

India is the world's second largest country by population, and is home to an amazing diversity of life.

India is one of the largest countries in the world and is the second most populous country with more than a billion people. The vast country is home to many world-famous attractions. There are many facts not known about the country.

10. Chess was invented in India.

Chess has a significant following in India with millions of fans spread across the country. Historians believe that the game has its origin in India with a variation of chess being played in India in the 6th century AD.

9. The nation is incredibly diverse.

India is one of the most diverse places on the planet, with the country being termed as an amalgamation of cultures. India’s diversity is evident in the country’s different languages, cultures, cuisines, architecture, religious beliefs, and music. The country’s rich history which spans thousands of years is a major factor contributing to its diversity. Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism are among the many religions practiced in the country. Buddhism and Hinduism are major religions in India with both combined having 2 billion followers. The country even has a substantial number of atheists. The diversity is also portrayed in the different clothing styles across the country.

8. There are more vegetarians in India than anywhere else in the world.

According to a 2007 report by the UN FAO, India has the lowest meat consumption rate in the world, a fact attributed to strong religious and cultural beliefs in the country. The country has the highest number of vegetarians in the world with 31% of Indians being vegetarians. The vegetarian diet orientation is so common in India that there are laws providing that edible commodities should be marked accordingly. Vegetarianism is most common in the Vaishnav, Jain, and Lingayat communities and least prevalent among Muslims.

7. It has the fourth longest railway network on the planet.

Indian Railways is the fourth longest rail network in the world (after Russia, China, and the United States) with the total track stretching 74,330 miles. The railway network also features 7,216 stations along its stretch. Indian Railways is state-owned and is operated by the Indian Government. The railway network transports over 8 billion passengers and hauling 1.1 billion tons of freight annually. The Indian railway network features 133,160 bridges. The railway network links India to its neighbors with links to Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.

6. There is no national language.

The 2001 Census of India established that the country had 122 major languages and about 1600 other languages. The Indian Constitution has no provision for any one national national language.

5. It is home to 2 of the world's oldest languages - Sanskrit and Tamil.

Two of India’s native languages are among the oldest in the world. Sanskrit is a language spoken by few people in India whose origin is traced back to the second millennium BC. Sanskrit is currently spoken by a small group of people but was once the lingua franca in ancient South Asia with millions of speakers. Another ancient Indian language is Tamil which is used by over 78 million people. The earliest record of the use of Tamil was in 300 BC in the form of Sangam literature, but scholars believe the language’s origin was in the second millennium BC making Tamil one of the world’s longest surviving classical languages. Tamil is also the first Indian language to be published with Portuguese missionaries publishing a Tamil prayer book in 1578.

4. India is the first Asian country to reach the orbit of Mars .

On September 24th, 2014, the Indian Mangalyaan space probe reached Mars orbit. The achievement showcased India’s superior space program run by the Indian Space Research Organization, with India becoming the first Asian country to achieve the feat. The mission was also India’s inaugural inter-planetary mission making India the first country in the world to reach Mar’s orbit in the first attempt. The space probe was launched on November 5th, 2013 and spent about 30 days orbiting the earth before it commenced its 298-day journey to Mars. The impressive feat made the Indian Space Research Organization the fourth space to send a probe to Mars after the European Space Agency, NASA, and the Soviet Space Program.

3. It has the smallest prison population in the entire world.

India has the lowest number of prison inmates in the world with 418,536 inmates in 2014. The prisoners are locked up in India’s 1,387 prisons. The Tihar Ashram is the largest prison in the country and the largest prison system in South Asia with a capacity of 6,250 prisoners. The 400,855 male inmates account for 95.8% of all inmates while female inmates number 17,681 representing 4.2% of all prisoners. However, despite the small population of inmates, the prison system in India is overpopulated with the prisons having 114.4% occupancy rate.

2. It has the 18th longest coastline in the world.

India has one of the longest coastlines in Asia stretching 4,671 miles and is the 18th longest in the world. The coastline is relatively even. The Gujarat state forms the longest stretch of the Indian coastline while the shortest stretch is found along the Goa state. Sandy beaches make up about 43% of the entire coastline with most being popular vacation destinations.

1. India is home to the largest postal network in the world.

The State-run postal system in India is the largest in the world. The postal network, known as the India Post consists of 154,939 post offices spread all over the country with the vast majority (89.86%) being based in the rural areas. Each post office serves an area of 8.19 square miles with about 8,054 residents. The primary services offered by Indian Post are essential postal services as well as courier services. Being the only major government institution available to some remote rural villages, Indian Post also offers banking and other essential financial services. The extensive postal network is serviced by over 460,000 employees. The postal system also features the highest post office in the world located in Hikkim at an altitude of 15,500 feet above sea level.

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