The Republic of India is a South Asian country. It is the seventh-largest country by land area, covering a large part of South Asia. It is also the second-most populated country and the most populated democracy in the world. India is surrounded by three bodies of water—the Indian Ocean to the south, the Arabian Sea to the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal to the southeast. India also shares its borders with Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the north; and Pakistan to the west.

The Indus civilization occupied the northwestern part of India from 2600 BCE to 2000 BCE. Many religions also originated from India including Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism. Hinduism influenced much of India’s politics, society, and culture. However, Muslim armies that entered the northern part of India established the Delhi Sultanate.

Vasco da Gama, a Portuguese explorer, arrived in 1498, signaling the start of European maritime influence in the region. India was eventually colonized by the British Empire in 1858 and maintained its rule until 1947. The Indian subcontinent was then divided into Hindu-majority India and Islam-majority Pakistan. Though India and Pakistan have gained independence from British rule, many influences remain like the English language and the parliamentary system.

India is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Although most of the Indian population practices Hinduism, other religions are also present like Christianity, Sikhism, and Buddhism.

India has become a fast-growing major economy and a hub for information technology services. It has one of the largest scientific and engineering communities in the world, with three of the most cosmopolitan cities (Mumbai, Kolkota, and Delhi) and three of the fastest-growing high technology centers (Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad) in the world. India also has a large role in global culture, especially in the film industry (Bollywood), music, and philosophies. Additionally, India is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries in the world with four biodiversity hotspots.

India uses the rupee as its official currency. The Reserve Bank of India is responsible for the management of government accounts, public debt, and note issuance since 1935. The first series of Indian rupee notes that the Reserve Bank issued was the King George VI series. These notes featured the portrait of King George VI with the Imperial Crown of India. After India gained independence in 1947, the Reserve Bank added the language panel, the lion capital of Ashoka pillar, the bank seal, and the tiger to the rupee design. Mahatma Gandhi’s portrait is also the first to be used post-independence. Modern rupee notes continue to feature Gandhi’s portrait and highlight other cultural landmarks.

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