The Republic of India, Asia's second-largest country after China, fills the major part of the South Asian subcontinent (which it shares with Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh) and includes the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and Lakshadweep (formerly the Laccadive, Minicoy, and Amindivi Islands) in the Arabian Sea. The total area of Republic of India is 3,287,590 sq km (1,269,345 sq mi), including 222,236 sq km (85,806 sq mi) belonging to Jammu and Kashmir; of this disputed region, 78,932 sq km (30,476 sq mi) are under the de facto control of Pakistan and 42,735 sq km (16,500 sq mi) are held by China. Comparatively, the area occupied by Republic of India is slightly more than one-third the size of the United States. China claims part of Arunachal Pradesh. Continental India extends 3,214 km (1,997 mi) N–S and 2,933 km (1,822 mi) E–W. India is bordered on the N by the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir (west of the Karakoram Pass), China, Nepal, and Bhutan; on the E by Myanmar, Bangladesh, and the Bay of Bengal; on the S by the Indian Ocean; on the W by the Arabian Sea; and on the NW by Pakistan. The total boundary length is 21,103 km (13,113 mi), of which 7,00 km (4,340 mi) is coastline.
CAPITAL : New Delhi
FLAG : The national flag, adopted in 1947, is a tricolor of deep saffron, white, and green horizontal stripes. In the center of the white stripe is a blue wheel representing the wheel (chakra) that appears on the abacus of Asoka's lion capital (c.250 BC) at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh.
ANTHEM : Jana gana mana (Thou Art the Ruler of the Minds of All People). A national song of equal status is Vande Mataram (I Bow to Thee, Mother).
MONETARY UNIT : The rupee (R) is a paper currency of 100 paise. There are coins of 5, 10, 20, 25, and 50 paise, and 1, 2, and 5 rupees, and notes of 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 500 rupees. R1 = 0.02129 (or $1 = Rs 50.56) as of Dec. 2008.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES : Metric weights and measures, introduced in 1958, replaced the British and local systems. Indian numerical units still in use include the lakh (equal to 100,000) and the crore (equal to 10 million).
HOLIDAYS : Republic Day, 26 January; Independence Day, 15 August; Gandhi Jayanti, 2 October. Annual events—some national, others purely local, and each associated with one or more religious communities—number in the hundreds. The more important include Shivarati in February; and Raksha Bandhan in August. Movable religious holidays include Holi, Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja, Dussehra, 'Id al-Fitr, Dewali; and Christmas, 25 December.