India

Geography

India is a large, triangular-shaped country in southern Asia, buttressed by the long sweep of the Himalaya in the north and protruding into theIndian Ocean in the south. It’s bordered by Pakistan to the northwest, China, Nepal and Bhutanto the north, and Bangladesh and Myanmar to the east.Sri Lanka is the teardrop-shaped island hanging off its southern tip. India covers a land area of some 3,287,000 sq km (1,281,930 sq mi), though disputed borders with Pakistan and China make this figure somewhat arbitrary. India is the seventh largest country in the world.

Population:

  • 1.2 Billion

Religions:

  • Hindu 80%,
  • Muslim 14%,
  • Christian 2.4%,
  • Sikh 2%,
  • Buddhist 0.7%,
  • Jains 0.5%,
  • other 0.4%

Cultural Pointers

India offers a diverse, varied, and fascinating culture. It has a long history of tolerance, and has been able to accommodate tremendous variety in culture, religion and social levels. Yet at heart, India is grounded in tradition. Even among young Indian Yuppies there are distinctly Indian ways of doing things: ideas of fashion, gender roles, and attitudes toward work, family, and life.

Having a basic awareness of some of the common perceptions and differences in attitudes in India will help visitors better understand what’s going on around them, and perhaps reduce culture-based annoyances. Here are a few points visitors may want to consider.

Left hand/Right hand

A very important, yet subtle, factor in India is avoiding the use of your left hand when interacting with others. In India, you use your left hand to clean yourself after using the toilet so it has extremely negative associations. ALWAYS give and receive anything with your right hand, or at least with both hands together.

Be careful of your shoes

Shoes, and to a lesser degree, feet, also have unclean associations. Keep you shoes on the floor.

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