What Separates The Indian Subcontinent From The Rest Of Asia?

The Himalayas sit between Asia and the Indian Subcontinent.

Where Is The Indian Subcontinent?

The Indian subcontinent is located in the south central region of the Asian continent. It takes on a peninsular shape that juts out into the Indian Ocean. This subcontinent is situated on top of the Indian tectonic plate. The Indian subcontinent covers an entire area of approximately 1.7 million square miles, which represents just over 3% of all the land on earth. It is politically divided into 7 countries: India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Maldives. The total population of this region is estimated at around 1.71 billion individuals. This article takes a closer look at what exactly isolates the Indian subcontinent from the rest of the Asian continent.

What Separates The Indian Subcontinent From Asia?

Geographically, the Indian subcontinent is removed from the rest of Asia by the Himalayan Mountain range. The Himalayan Mountains began to take shape between 40 million and 50 million years ago, when the Indian tectonic plate (then the Indo-Australian plate) began colliding with the Eurasian tectonic plate. As these two plates are forced into each other, the Indian plate slides underneath the Eurasian plate. The Himalayan Mountains are considered a geologically active mountain range as the Indian plate continues to experience subduction today. These mountain increase in height by around 5 millimeters every year. Scientists expect that the Indian plate will move further inland by around 930 miles in the span of around 10 million years.

The Himalayan Mountain range, which is home to some of the tallest mountain peaks in the world, stretches in an arc-like shape from Bhutan in the east all the way to Pakistan in the west. The Himalayan Mountains measure around 1,500 miles in length and anywhere from 93 to 220 miles in width. The extreme terrain of this mountain range has worked to keep the Indian subcontinent and its plant, animal, and human populations isolated from the rest of Asia and Europe throughout history. Approximately 52.7 million individuals live within this mountain range. These people primarily belong to 4 major religious groups: Buddhism, Hinduism, Animism, and Islamism. Most political, cultural, and economic exchange from the Indian subcontinent to the rest of Asia took place via valleys into Afghanistan, which provided slightly less dangerous terrain than that found in the Himalayan Mountains.

Geography Of The Indian Subcontinent

The Himalayan Mountain range works to not only separate the Indian subcontinent from the Eurasian continent, but also to separate two distinct environmental habitats: the Tibetan Plateau to the north and the North Indian River Plain to the south. The North Indian River Plain, also known as the Indo-Gangetic Plain, is located completely within the Indian subcontinent, where it covers around 630 million acres. It is an important ecosystem to the region due to its fertile soils, which are fertilized by the rivers that run down from the mountains, depositing sediment along the way.

Other geographical features of the Indian subcontinent include: the Thar Desert, the Eastern Coastal Plain, the Western Coastal Plain, and several wetlands areas. Additionally, the Indian subcontinent is home to a number of forested areas, large bodies of water, and several river valleys.


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