Indian Subcontinent - Region facts
Southern Asia sometimes refers to all of asia that was not part of the Soviet Union.
The term South Asia is considered often as synonymous with the term Indian subcontinent, and includes the following neighboring states:
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh; constituting the bulk of the South Asia proper, the Himalayan States: Nepal and Bhutan, the Indian Ocean Island States: Sri Lanka, the Maldives.
All of these countries are members of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
The US State Departmentís South Asia Bureau is currently planning to include Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in its definition of South Asia. These countries, however, are historically considered to belong to the category of Central Asia, along with Chinese Turkestan and Mongolia are not, strictly speaking, a part of South Asia.
Geographically, the South Asia would additionally include some disputed territory currently controlled by China, and Myanmar and exclude most of western and northern Pakistan and Kashmir where the Indian plate and Eurasian plate meet and collide. Politically (as in the SAARC member-states), the region covers about 4,480,000 km≤ (1,729,738 sq. mi.), or 10% of the Asian continent. However, its population accounts for about 40% of Asia. Some or all of Afghanistan is sometimes considered part of the region of South Asia since, due to its geographic proximity, it has shared many historical currents with the region. Recently, Afghanistan has been admitted to the SAARC as a member.
The term "South Asia"' is a common contemporary term for what in times before 1947, the end of the British Raj and the beginning of the First Indo-Pakistani War, was simply known as "India" and has subsequently been referred to as "British India," though prior to Independence that term referred to those portions of the country that were directly administered by the British, as opposed to the princely states.
Historically, South Asia and South-East Asia together constitute what is known as the East Indies, with the first being defined as Hither India or India Citerior and Further India or India Ulterior. These terms, however, have ceased to be current and have become arcane and largely used, if at all, by academics, with only the "East Indies" still retaining some current usage.
Geographically, the region is bound by the Himalaya to the north and east, and the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal to the south. The Hindu Kush mountains that run through Afghanistan and northern Pakistan are usually considered the northwestern edge of the subcontinent.
Geologically, most of this region is a subcontinent because it rests on a tectonic plate of its own, the India Plate, separate from the rest of Eurasia and was once a small continent before colliding with the Eurasian Plate and giving birth to the Himalayan range and the Tibetan plateau. Even now the India Plate continues to move northward with the result that the Himalaya are growing taller by a few centimetres each decade. In addition, is also home to an astounding variety of geographical features that are typical of much larger continents, such as glaciers, rainforests, valleys, deserts, and grasslands in an area about half the size of the United States.
Further, the peoples of the region possess several distinguishing features that set them apart anthropologically from the rest of Asia; the dominant peoples and cultures are Indo-European and Dravidian, and have a greater affinity with Europe than with most other regions of Asia, excepting the Iranian Plateau and the Caucasus.
South Asia ranks among the world's most densely-populated regions. About 1.6 billion people live there ó about a quarter of all the people in the world. The region's population density of 305 persons per square kilometre is more than seven times the world average.
The region has a long history. Ancient civilisations developed in the Indus River Valley. The region was at its most prosperous before the 18th century, when the Mughal Empire held sway in the north; European colonialism led to a new conquering of the region, by Portugal and Holland, and later Britain and to a lesser degree Frace. Most of the region gained independence from Europe in the late 1940s.