India, officially the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second most populous country and the largest democracy in the world. India has a coastline of over seven thousand kilometres, and borders Pakistan to the west, Nepal, the People's Republic of China and Bhutan to the north-east, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east. In the Indian Ocean, it is adjacent to the island nations of Sri Lanka, Maldives and Indonesia.
Home to the Indus Valley Civilization, a centre of important trade routes and vast empires, India has long played a major role in human history. Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism and Jainism, all have their origins in India, while Islam and Christianity enjoy a strong cultural heritage. Colonised as part of the British Empire in the nineteenth century, India gained independence in 1947 as a unified nation after an intense struggle for independence. The country has one of the most diverse populations, wildlife, geographical terrain and climate systems.
The economy of India is the fourth largest in the world as measured by purchasing power parity (PPP), with a GDP of US $3.63 trillion. When measured in USD exchange-rate terms, it is the twelth largest in the world, with a GDP of US $775 billion (2005). India is the second fastest growing major economy in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 8.4%, as of the first quarter of 2006. Wealth distribution in India, a developing country, is fairly uneven, with the top 10% of income groups earning 33% of all income. India's per capita income (PPP) of US$ 3,400  is ranked 122nd in the world.
For most of its independent history, India adhered to a quasi-socialist approach, with strict government control over private sector participation, foreign trade, and foreign direct investment. Starting from 1991, India has gradually opened up its markets through economic reforms by reducing government controls on foreign trade and investment. Privatisation of public-owned industries and some sectors to private and foreign players has continued amid political debate.
India has a labour force of 496.4 million of which 60% is employed in agriculture or agriculture-related industries, 17% in mainstream industry and 23% in service industries. India's agricultural produce includes rice, wheat, oilseed, cotton, jute, tea, sugarcane, potatoes. Major industries include textiles, chemicals, food processing, steel, transportation equipment, cement, mining, petroleum and machinery.
India's large English speaking middle-class has contributed to the country's growth in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). India is also a major exporter of software, financial, research and technology services. India's most important trading partners are the United States, China, UK, Singapore, Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, Switzerland and Belgium.
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