Photograph of the famous backwaters of KeralaThe Indian sub-continent measures almost 4,000km from north to south, and from west to east. It has a coastline of over 7500 km. The mountain ranges that divide the subcontinent from Eurasia, and the sea that surrounds the peninsula, form a natural barrier.

The climate of the subcontinent is distinct from the rest of Asia. It is dominated by two distinct monsoon cycles, which strike at different seasons during the year. At the same time, there is a wide variety of climatic zones, including deserts, both traditional and high altitude.

  Drawing of a bathing scene in the holy River Ganges Photograph of Manikarnika Ghat at the city of Benares Photograph of a typical southern landscape
The Ganges Valley >
The river Ganges is part of a vast system that drains northern India and flows out into the Bay of Bengal. Its alluvial deposits have created fertile valleys, attracting people and agriculture.
Cities >
The Indian subcontinent is mainly rural, with most of its population living in small villages. But it is also home to some of the world's largest cities, some with a population of over 10 million people.
The South >
The south of the India peninsula has a tropical climate and distinctive culture. It has been a key link in the spice trade between Europe and southeast Asia since Roman times.