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The Republic of India, commonly known as India, is a country in South Asia which comprises of the majority of the Indian subcontinent. India has a coastline which stretches over seven thousand kilometres, and shares its borders with Pakistan to the west, the People's Republic of China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast, and Bangladesh and Myanmar on the east. On the Indian Ocean, it is adjacent to the island nations of the Maldives on the southwest, Sri Lanka on the south, and Indonesia on the southeast. India also claims a border with Afghanistan to the northwest.
The name India is derived from the Old Persian version of Sindhu, the historic local appellation for the river Indus; see Origin of India's name. The Constitution of India and general usage also recognises Bharat which is derived from the Sanskrit name of an ancient Hindu king, whose story is to be found in the Mahabharata, as an official name of equal status. A third name, Hindustan or Land of the Hindus in Persian, has been used since the twelfth century, though its contemporary use is unevenly applied due to domestic disputes over its representiveness as a national signifier.
India is the fourth largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity, and the tenth largest in absolute terms. It is the second most populous country in the world, with a population of over one billion, and is the seventh largest country by geographical area.
It is home to some of the most ancient civilizations, and a centre of important historic trade routes. Four major world religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism have originated from India. Formerly a major part of the British Empire as the British Raj before gaining independence in 1947, during the past twenty years the country has grown significantly, especially in its economic and military spheres, regionally as well as globally.
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