India: a land of unity in diversity.


A 5,000-year-old civilization, India has had a unique connection between nature and its rich heritage, ancient traditions, spirituality, culture and architecture. From the majestic Himalayan peaks in the north, to the sun-kissed beaches in the south, to the great Indian desert in the west, to the breathtaking natural heritage in the east – all make India geographically vibrant, colourful and truly incredible.

India’s heritage and biodiversity is a source of pride and identity for India, the host country of World Environment Day 2018. Diverse geography and bountiful natural resources have propelled India’s economic prosperity, balanced by its sustainability-oriented culture.

Like other cultures around the world, Indian heritage is replete with traditional knowledge and valuable insights in maintaining a delicate balance between man and Mother Nature. Economic growth, biodiversity and climate change are intrinsically linked and harmony between them is critical for our survival. Convergence of traditional knowledge and modern science can lead to innovative solutions to combat climate change, especially plastic pollution – a pressing environmental crisis that is growing exponentially with each passing year.

Traditionally India has imbibed three R’s – reduce, recycle, reuse – encouraging sustainable living conducive to a healthy environment. As the host nation of World Environment Day, India will revive and impart its traditional knowledge and innovative modern approaches towards a cleaner, greener and plastic-free nation. As part of its festivities, India is carrying out nationwide plastic cleaning drives of its beaches, national parks, riverbanks, public places and much more, thereby reinforcing its culture of sustainable living. 

“We are at a historic moment. Every age defines its character, and, each generation is remembered for how it rose together to meet its challenges. Our generation must recognize and reaffirm our commitment to sustainability and climate health”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Key Facts

People – India is the largest democracy and the second most-populous nation in the world with a population of 1.3 billion people. While 69 per cent live in rural areas, 31 per cent reside in thriving urban centers. Hindi is the official language of India followed by English.

Area – India is the seventh-largest country in the world, covering 3.2 million square kilometers. It has 29 states and 7 union territories, extending from the snow-covered Himalayas and stretching south towards the Tropic of Cancer, which tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal in the east and the Arabian Sea in the West.

History – The Indian subcontinent has been home to one of the world's oldest and most influential civilizations and been witness to the birth of various religions and the rise and collapse of civilizations and empires. Right from the Indus valley civilization to the Mauryan Empire to the rise of the Mughals to British colonial rule to its independence in 1947, India has had a rich historical and cultural past.

Government – India is a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic with a Parliamentary form of government which is federal in structure with unitary features. Prime Minster Narendra Damodardas Modi was elected to office in 2014.

Economy – India is the world’s seventh-largest and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with a GDP growth rate of 7.3 per cent. Agriculture, handicrafts, modern industries, IT and other services form major sectors in the economy. Its largest trading partners are China, USA and UAE.

Environment – India's topography is greatly varied. It comprises 2.4 per cent of the world's land area and is home to between 7 per cent and 8 per cent of the world’s recorded species; this includes 46,000 plant species and 91,000 animal species. Conservation of wild flora and fauna has been an integral part of Indian history. In the north, the Great Himalayan Mountain range is the highest and home to planet’s highest mountain peaks such as Kanchenjunga, Nanda Devi and Kamet. India also home to beautiful lakes and great rivers such as the Indus, Ganges and Brahmaputra, being some of the most important river systems in the world. Vemnabad Lake in Kerala is the longest lake in India, stretching 2,033 square kilometers and Chilka Lake, the world’s second-largest lagoon. Sixteen types of forests are found in India – from evergreen tropical rainforests to dry alpine scrub forests to subtropical pine forests and more.

Wildlife – India's rich and abundant flora and fauna is attributed to its diverse climate and geography. India is home to majestic elephants, charismatic tigers, lion, rhinoceros and snow leopard among many others. Some bird species include peacocks, parrots, kingfishers, parakeets, cranes, mynahs, hornbills and many more. 

Protected areas and national parks – The rich and fascinating biodiversity of India can be seen in the four global biodiversity hotspots, 103 national parks, 543 sanctuaries and 50 tiger reserves established by the Government of India in an attempt to conserve these vital resources.