Indian Subcontinent India Pakistan

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Chapter 9:
South Asia

Indian Subcontinent







Sri Lanka

South Asia’s Physical & Human Contexts

  • Monsoon climate

  • Flat topography with elevated features on its edge

  • Hinduism

  • Islam introduced through invasions

  • Transformation through British imperialism

  • Post-World War II independence

Annual Rainfall & Dominant Atmospheric Wind Patterns Over Asia During the Summer

  • Prevailing winds that occur during particular seasons of the year

  • Brings pronounced wet and dry seasons

  • Expresses itself differently in each of the three Asian subregions

Monsoon Summer

Annual Rainfall & Dominant Atmospheric Wind Patterns Over Asia During the Winter

Monsoon Winter

Monsoon Contrasts

Environmental Contrasts

  • Monsoon climate

  • Expresses itself differently in each of the three subregions of Asia

  • Mountain-induced orographic precipitation

  • Late southwestern monsoon season sometimes includes cyclones.

  • Landforms

  • Indo–Gangetic Plain

  • Deccan Plateau (Southern India)


  • Annual precipitation levels increase west to east

  • Much of Indus plain is arid.

  • Humid Bangladesh characterized by semideciduous and tropical rainforest vegetation

  • Water supply is seasonal.

  • Summer or west monsoon provides 85% of annual rainfall totals.

Physical Geography

  • Mountains

  • Himalayan Mountains – world’s highest range

  • Mount Everest – world’s highest mountain peak

  • 50 other peaks over 7,500 m (25,000 ft.)

  • Forms a cultural and physical barrier

  • Result of collision of India and Eurasian plate

  • Ongoing uplift and erosion


South Asia

  • Often referred to as the “Indian subcontinent”

  • Territorial dominance of India

  • Substantial population density

  • Primarily a rural region

  • Tradition of state control of industry

  • Divisive role of ethnicity, religion, and politics in economic development process

Human Geography

  • Cultural Diversity

  • Ethnic religions

  • Hinduism

  • Sikhism

  • Jainism

  • Global religions

  • Buddhism

  • Islam

  • Christianity


  • 80% of India’s population (800 million)

  • Minority religion in Sri Lanka and Bhutan

  • The Caste System

  • Social groupings – 4 categories

  • Membership is hereditary

  • Untouchables (dalits)

Buddhism and Jainism

  • Developed as a reaction to Hinduism

  • Buddhism 4th largest organized religion in world

  • Spread east and north into Southeast Asia and East Asia

  • Sri Lanka 70% Buddhist

  • Also found in Bhutan, Nepal, and Afghanistan

  • Jainism – code of nonviolence

  • Most 4 million Jains live in India

  • One of worlds smaller religions


  • Introduced by Arab traders 700s AD

  • Strongholds in NW and east India

  • Pakistan and Bangladesh

  • Maldives

  • Afghanistan

  • Only 11% of India’s population but an important minority (120 million people)


  • Combines aspects of Hinduism with monotheism

  • Universal toleration

  • Concentrated in Punjab region

  • Approximately 25 million

Languages of South Asia


  • India

  • Over 1600 languages

  • Hindi is national language

  • English – lingua franca

  • Other languages

  • Bengali (Bangladesh)

  • Urdu (Pakistan)

  • Pashtun (Afghanistan)

  • Sinhalese (Sri Lanka)

  • Tamil (Sri Lanka)

Colonial Transformation

  • Early British influence

  • British East India Company

  • Indirectly came to control up to two-thirds of country

  • Replaced native administration

  • Took actions to decimate textile industry in 19th century

  • By 1900s, South Asia was a total colonial possession.

  • Economic contours totally altered

  • Industrial development slow-paced

Jammu and Kashmir

Accommodating Diversity in India

  • Created as a secular state

  • Religion has become a predominant political issue relating to castes.

  • Rise of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

  • Conservative

  • Hindu-based

  • Federalism as a political structure

  • Hindi–Official language and most widely spoken

Population Contours of India

  • More than 1 billion people

  • Second most populous country in the world

  • Population growth rate double that of China

  • Quadrupled in past 85 years

  • ¾ live in rural villages

  • Changing age structure

Explaining the Decline in Population Growth Rates

  • Growth rates vary between ethnic, religious, and caste groups.

  • In general, Hindus have fewer children than Muslims.

  • Unequal gender relationships

  • Heading toward stage three of demographic transformation model

Population Growth Rates of Indian Political Units1991–2001

Gender Bias of Indian Political Units 2001

Agricultural Development in India

  • 62% of population engaged in some form of agricultural pursuits.

  • 65% in rural villages and small towns

  • Spatial distribution determined by availability of water.

  • Heavy reliance on livestock

  • Various dairy products

  • Cattle are primary source of power for plowing and short-distance transport.

Agricultural Productivity and Change

  • Sources of rural poverty are many.

  • Lack of health access and other social services

  • Lack of meaningful land reform

  • Average size of household plot is 6.5 acres.

  • Negative impact of Green Revolution

  • Negative impact of government economic policies

  • Technology impact

  • Hasn’t solved problems

  • Has exacerbated economic inequalities

Agricultural Regions of India

India’s Industrial Economy

  • Railroads

  • Strong industrial resource base

  • Fossil fuels can adequately power the industrial base.

  • Iron ore counts for 6% of world production and 5% of world reserves.

  • Government has constructed hydroelectric facilities to make up for shortages in commercial energy.

  • Carefully planned economy by government

Primary Mineral and Industrial Regions of South Asia

Industrial Regions

  • Diversified industrial sector is emerging–Damodar Valley

  • Mumbai is second most important industrial region.

  • Cotton textile manufacturing

  • Automobile production

  • Aircraft

  • Pharmaceuticals

  • Plastics

  • Chemicals

  • Bangalore– “Silicon Valley of India”

  • Texas Instruments

  • IBM

  • Compaq

  • Other computer software firms

Brain Drain

  • Highly educated university graduates

  • Concern to stem brain drain

Urban India

  • Stark contrasts between urban and rural world

  • Prosperity gap has widened in the postindustrial economy.

  • Greater levels of rural to urban migration

  • Stream of urban migrants has exceeded urban employment opportunities.

Urban Growth

  • Urbanization levels low into the mid-20th century

  • Growth indicators

  • Rural to urban migration

  • Natural increase of urban population

  • Most population growth in large cities

  • Thirty-five cities with more than 1 million population

  • Some are megacities, but not “world cities”

  • Delhi–17.3 million

  • Mumbai–17.3 million

  • Kolkata–14.3

  • Insufficient finance, transport, and telecommunications

Urban India–1901–2007

The Urban Poor

  • First- and second- generation rural to urban migrants see the city as a place for greater economic opportunity.

  • Lack of adequate income to secure durable housing

  • Some in substandard housing

  • Bustec–“Village in a city”

  • Squatter dwellings

  • Dirt floors

  • Electricity, sewage, and water rare


  • Created in 1947

  • A west and east formed

  • West–Closer to the West

  • East–Closer to southeast Asia

  • Tenuous from the beginning

  • East gained independence in 1971 (renamed Bangladesh).

  • Tensions with India

  • Jammu and Kashmir

  • Joint nuclear ambitions

  • Post-9/11/2001 relationship with US in al Qaeda fight


  • Continues to rank as one of the world’s poorest countries

  • One of the larger debtor nations

  • Agriculture based on wheat, rice, leather products, and carpets.

  • Located in transitional location between Islamic Middle East and Hindu India.

  • “Dysfunctional country with little evidence of a civil society”

Pakistan in the Crossroads

  • 169 million population

  • 96% Islamic

  • Formerly East and West Pakistan until 1970s, when East Pakistan became Bangladesh.

  • Language is 96% Punjab.

  • Parts of Sharia in legal system

  • Tension among civil society, religious elements, and military rule.

  • Madrasahs helped to support militant Islam.

  • Supported Pushtuns and Taliban government in Afghanistan prior to 9/11/2001


  • Formerly East Pakistan after 1971 civil war

  • Great cyclone in 1971 resulted in a sharply reduced agriculture economy.

  • Economy rests almost completely on agriculture.

  • Poorly developed industrial economy

  • Relatively stable government

  • Child labor is widespread.

  • Half the rural population is landless.

  • High illiteracy


  • Landlocked country

  • Physical and cultural transition between Tibet in north and India to south

  • Most populated part is central foothills–Kathmandu Valley

  • Worldwide success in marketing its natural and cultural heritage

  • Adventure tourism

  • Tourism industry creates substantial domestic employment opportunities.

  • 90% involved in subsistence agriculture

  • Exacerbated demands on women in economy


  • Landlocked country Himalayan Country

  • Tiny Buddhist kingdom

  • Buffer state between India and China

  • Limits tourists and outside influences

  • Policy of “Gross National Happiness”

Sri Lanka

  • 20 million population

  • 74% Singhalese

  • Tamil-speaking Hindus for the rest

  • Cultural conflict

  • Gained independence from British in 1948

  • Changed name from Ceylon in 1972

  • Government programs have significantly improved life.

  • Some social indicators on par with developed countries

  • Exports count for about one- third of the economy.

  • Tea, rubber, and coconut

The Maldives

  • Over 1,000 islands

  • Fishing and tourism main economic activities

  • Coastal pollution problems

  • Tourism industry affected by 2004 tsunami

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