Atal Behari Vajpayee
(pronounced "AH-tahl beh-HAH-ree vaj-PAY-ee")
"Nations achieve greatness when their people learn to dream lofty dreams and to strive hard— and make sacrifices, when necessary—to realize those dreams, without getting disheartened by the difficulties along the way and without ever letting their faith in their nation's destiny falter."
India dominates the southern part of the Asian continent, with an area of 3,287,590 sq km (1,269,346 sq mi). It is bordered to the northwest by Pakistan and to the north– northeast by China, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Myanmar. The country's geography can be divided into three main regions: Himalayan Mountains, the Indo-Gangetic Plains, and the Deccan Plateau.
India's population was estimated at 1,045,845,000 in 2002, second only to China. Approximately 73% of the people live in rural areas, but there are nearly 30 urban centers, each with more than a million people. The country's population density is 283 persons per sq km (733 per sq mi). India's people are ethnically and culturally diverse. The two main ethnic groups are Indo-Aryans and Dravidians. While nearly 600 languages and dialects are spoken in India, only 15 are recognized as official languages. Hindi, spoken by about 30% of the population, is most widely spoken in the northern and central regions of the country. It is also the official language of the central government. Many educated Indians speak English, an "associate" official language. An overwhelming majority of Indians belong to the Hindu faith (81%). Muslims constitute the largest minority religion (12%). Hindu society is divided into castes, which are hierarchically grouped according to traditional occupation and religious purity. Membership is determined by birth, and a person's social status usually depends on caste considerations.
The unit of currency is the rupee. The country's largest trading partners are the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, and Japan. Its chief exports are textile goods, precious stones, engineering goods, chemicals, and leather goods.
Office of the Prime Minister
New Delhi 110011, India