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Geography & Topography

Capital: New Delhi

Population: 1,210,193,422

Currency: Indian Rupee

Area: 3,287,263 km

Language: Hindi, English

Ethnic Groups: Hindu, Sikh, Jain, Zoroastrian, Muslim,  Bahá’í

Religion: Hinduism (80,5%0, Islam (13,4) Christianity (2,3%)



India is 8,000 kilometres north-west of Australia, has a population of around 1.2 billion people and borders with Nepal and Pakistan. It is made up of a diverse range of cultures, languages, religions and music, and can be broken up into four broad groups. First are the Hindus who live in Northern India and whose language is derived from Sanskrit. Secondly, those who live just south of the Vindhyas and whose languages – Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam – are entirely different from Sanskrit. Thirdly, the Kols, Bhils and Mundas tribes who live in the hills and junglesof India. Finally,   the Indian people with strong Mongolian features who inhabit the slopes of the Himalayas and the northeast of India.

Performing Arts


Up until more recently the main styles of music played in India were Indian Classical music (which is quite different from Western classical music) and folk music. New styles have developed such as Indi-pop (including Bollywood style), rock, metal and dance music (such as Goa trance).


The most recognisable instruments in traditional Indian music are:


Tabla, believed to be evolved from the large parkawaj drum in Afghanistan


Tabla: The word ‘tabla’ is derived from an Arabic word tabl which simply means “drum”, and is believed to have evolved in Afghanistan from the large pakhawaj drum around 200 years ago. The tabla is two small drums joined together and is the main rhythm instrument in Indian music.



Harmonium, an instrument originally from France that was brought in by missionaries in the mid-19th century


Harmonium: The harmonium is originally a French instrument which was brought to India in the mid-19th Century by missionaries. It is a keyboard which is driven by pumping air into its chambers, and it produces a particular drone sound perfect for backing a wide range of Indian instruments. Between the 1940s and 1970s the harmonium was banned from being played on All-India Radio (one of the largest radio networks in the world) because it was not originally from India.


Sitar, a distant relative to the guitar that was developed in the 13th century





Sitar: It is thought that the sitar was developed in the 13th Century, and since then it has become the main string instrument of India. It’s a bit like a distant relative of the guitar, however unlike a guitar, the sitar’s frets are movable which allows for fine tuning. The sitar produces a resonating metallic drone style of sound.


Some interesting facts:

  • The number system was invented by India, and Aryabhatta was the scientist who invented the digit zero.
  • Both chess and snakes and ladders were invented in India.
  • The national animal of India is the Bengal Tiger.
  • Religions in India include: Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism.
  • India has the most post offices in the world.

Indian community in Australia:

More information on the Indian community: