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India -- An Introduction

W ith nearly 1 billion citizens, India is the second most populous nation in the world. It is impossible to speak of any one Indian culture, although there are deep cultural similarities that tie its people together. English is the major language of trade and politics, but there are fourteen official languages in all. There are twenty-four languages that are spoken by a million people or more, and countless other dialects. India has seven major religions and many minor ones, six main ethnic groups, and countless holidays.

Religion is central to Indian culture, and its practice can be seen in virtually every aspect of life in the country. Hinduism is the dominant faith of India, serving about 80 percent of the population. Ten percent worship Islam, and 5 percent are Sikhs and Christians. The remaining 5 percent (about 45 million people) are Buddhists, Jains, Bahai, and more.


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Last Modified: 1 May 1998
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