The history of the Indian sub-continent has been profoundly shaped by its geography, which has helped forge an underlying cultural unity within its diversity of peoples, languages and religious practices. Historically, the sub-continent has seen the arrival and absorption of many different cultures and traditions, some through conquest and some through migration and trade, some from neighbouring civilisations and some from overseas.

Painting of a pomegranate tree, c.1570
The Mughal Empire was founded by Muslim invaders from central Asia. During its peak, 1526 to 1707, the empire controlled most of India. Mughal emperors were noted for their interest in the arts, including gardens.

Photograph of a man packing tea, 1930s
From modest beginnings near Bombay in 1608, the E.I.C. was to become the effective government of India until the Mutiny of 1857. Its wealth was based on close control of imports and exports.

Watercolour of the Union Jack flag
The Indian subcontinent was ruled by Britain from 1858 to 1947. Its natural resources and manpower made an immense contribution to British society, but at the expense of famine and racialism in the subcontinent.

Photograph of a woman dancing the story of Shiva
Today Asians form 8% of the population of London. Emigration from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan has had a great impact in areas such as Britain, and the subcontinent itself.