Background: India

Independence: August 15, 1947 (from the United Kingdom);

Adjacent Countries: Bangladesh (southeast), Bhutan (northeast), Burma (east), China (north), Nepal (northeast), Pakistan (west);
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Government: Federal Republic; Capital: New Dehli
Chief of State: President Kicheril Raman NARAYANAN (since July 25, 1997)
Head of Gov't: Prime Minister Behari VAJPAYEE (since March 19, 1998)

Population (July 2001 est.):

Infant mortality rate (2001 est.):
63.19 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth (2001 est.):
Total Population: 62.86 years
Male: 62.22 years
Female: 63.53 years

Ethnic groups:
Indo-Aryan - 72%
Dravidian - 25%
Mongoloid and other - 3%

Hindu - 81.3%
Muslim - 12%
Christian - 2.3%
Sikh - 1.9%
other groups including Buddhist, Jain, Parsi - 2.5%

English - most important language for national, political, and commercial;
Hindi - national language; and primary tongue of 30% of the people;
Bengali (official), Telugu (official), Marathi (official), Tamil (official), Urdu (official), Gujarati (official), Malayalam (official), Kannada (official), Oriya (official), Punjabi (official), Assamese (official), Kashmiri (official), Sindhi (official), Sanskrit (official), Hindustani

Literacy: (definition: age 15 and over can read and write)(1995 est.)
Total Population: 52%
Male: 65.5%
Female: 37.7%