The Indian subcontinent was home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilization
and comprises historic trade routes and empires.
Four of the world's major religions—Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism
and Sikhism—originated here, while Zoroastrianism,
Christianity and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE
and shaped the region's diverse culture.
Gradually annexed by the British East India Company
from the early 18th century and colonized
by the United Kingdom from the mid-19th century,
India became an independent nation in 1947 after a struggle
for independence marked by non-violent resistance and led by Mahatma Gandhi.
India is a federal constitutional republic with a parliamentary system
consisting of 28 states and seven union territories.
It is a member of the United Nations,
the Non-Aligned Movement, the World Trade Organization,
the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation,
the East Asia Summit, the G20, the G8+5,
and the Commonwealth of Nations, and is one of the four BRIC nations.
India is a pluralistic, multilingual, and multiethnic society.
It is also home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats.