There is no doubt that India is one of the most fascinating countries in the world. So much so, that we are about to blow your mind with our list which features some of the most interesting and little-known facts about one of the most fascinating countries on earth. These are 20 incredible facts about India you never realized, and after reading our list, you are going to want to pack your bags and see this amazing nation for yourself. Consider that this is a country full of people from all kinds of educational backgrounds, social classes, and cultures. In fact, India is like an entire continent in a country! There are so many languages, traditions, and foods here that you will be set for life.
That being said, there are other more depressing aspects of this country. For instance, poverty and illiteracy are very real and very sad realities for many citizens. There is also more consideration given to men than women, and on a much more dangerous and unfair scale than in other countries. You may not think of democracy, cell phones, and air pollution when you first think of India, but our list will reveal some truths that you might not have realized before.
So sit back and read these twenty eye-opening facts about this diverse and culturally-rich country. Of course, there are so many other things that we could tell you about India, but after reading through our list, you may want to just go and discover those things for yourself! Have fun and learn something new!
20 It's The World’s Largest Democracy
Okay, so we already knew that India had about a bazillion people in it, but we were not aware that it was the largest democracy on the planet! India has a whopping 1.2 billion people in it, making it the biggest democratic country in the entire world. We can’t even imagine what it is like having a government that supports so many people, but apparently India is making it work. Or at least they make it seem like they are making it work! The country does still use the caste system, which creates different tiers of social and economic standing in the country.
19 It Has 6 Seasons
Most countries in the world have the 4 seasons, although there are some countries that have fewer. For example, nations that are located near the equator will have warmer weather all year round, and vice versa for countries near the poles. Well, in India, they have 6 seasons: summer, monsoon, autumn, winter, prevernal and spring. It’s all part of the Hindu calendar (Hinduism is the main religion of India). Sprinkled throughout there are various Hindu traditions and holidays, such as Diwali (festival of light) and Holi (festival of color).
18 Its Currency Stays in India
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, and the rupees that are made in India, stay in India. Unfortunately, the rupees are not allowed to leave the country. And while that may be bad news for visitors who want to bring some foreign money back home to show their friends, it is mostly good news for India’s officials. You see, back in the day, people were smuggling Indian rupees into neighboring Bangladesh and selling them off. There were even shortages of rupees in India and people resorted to using cardboard coins! So, sorry, but the rupees need to stay within country borders now.
17 More Than 25% of Indians Are Illiterate
India is a country of such extreme differences. You have the rich and the poor, the learned and the not-so-learned. In this country, the national literacy rate is just 65%. Among females, the literacy rate is just 54%, while 75% of males can read and write. With such a high level of illiteracy, this means that there is abject poverty in the country. It is such a contrast when you have wonderful things like the Taj Mahal and other large and elaborate housing placed next to slums and people begging on the street.
16 India is Ever-Growing
Yes, it seems as though the population of India just keeps expanding and growing. In fact, India’s population is said to surpass China’s by the year 2028. As a matter of fact, the country’s population already surpasses the combined population of the Western hemisphere’s population! Yes, it’s true! So it makes sense that India is set to contain more people than China in just a few years. Hey, at least India is a democratic country, unlike communist China. We’re not sure if that really has anything to do with it, but we do know that the economic and social class gaps in India have got to decrease, especially if the population is booming.
15 India Used to be an Island
Yes, back when there was good ol’ Pangaea, the continents used to be just one big landmass. Then, thanks to tectonic plates, different pieces of that giant landmass started to shift away from each other. India ended up breaking off and kind of just floated there as an individual island nation. It then jammed into the continent of Asia and now it is considered a “subcontinent” of its own. In fact, India is bit by bit crashing into the Asian continent. That means that India is getting smaller and smaller. You remember that we said the population is growing? Problem!
14 Over 1,000 Languages Are Spoken
Forget about dealing with the hard-to-understand Indian accent in English. Maybe you want to learn the language of India before going there...well, you are going to run into a snag. Considering that there are about 1,000 languages and dialects spoken in India, have fun choosing which one to learn! Even a guidebook will not help you out too much, because some of the more localized languages and dialects are not even listed or publicly recognized. So how do people even communicate? Thankfully most people will know at least a bit of Hindi, but there is no one-size-fits-all vocabulary.
13 India is a Lethal Country
By this, we mean that India has the most deaths per country than anywhere in the world. You won’t believe where a lot of these fatal disasters come from. Roads. Yes, the streets and paths throughout the country are treacherous to say the least. You need to be a professional motorist and really know the lay of the land if you are going to maneuver around safely. Many people meet an early death by falling off cliffside roads or getting killed in the busy and overcrowded streets. Other deaths result from childbirth and pregnancy (due to a lack of medical technology) and crimes related to dowries and arranged marriages.
12 India Produces More Films Than Hollywood
You may automatically think of the movie theaters in the United States when you think of cinema. After all, who hasn’t heard of the magical land of Hollywood? However, India produces and directs about 1,100 movies annually. This is twice the rate of movie-making magic in America! Believe it or not, most of the films made in India aren’t even Bollywood films. While we love the vibrant color, expressions, costumes, and dance sequences in Bollywood, this is only a small sampling of what India produces. Yes, the Indians absolutely adore cinema, so if you are looking for your next favorite movie, look to an Indian filmmaker perhaps!
11 India Loves Breaking Records
Another love of India may seem a bit strange. India just loves breaking world records. Dumb ones, too. The Indians will almost always go out of their way to break some conspicuous and often-unknown record so they can land in the Guinness Book of stardom. For example, they hold the world record for crocheting the world’s largest blanket. They also constructed the largest peacock made of iron beams in the world. If that isn’t worthy of praise, we don’t know what is! One of their cool record-breaking feats was having the most people unanimously singing a national song. Now that’s pretty awesome.
10 Mumbai Has Major Pollution
We already know that lots of developing countries are guilty of emitting loads of fossil fuels and toxic chemicals. And when we think of air pollution, we automatically think about China. But, as a matter of fact, the air quality in the Indian city of Mumbai is pretty freaking bad. Being in Mumbai for just one day is equivalent to smoking 100 cigarettes. And New Delhi is even worse! The crappy air in India is responsible for about 1.5 million deaths annually, according to the World Health Organization. Most of this air pollution comes from the motor vehicles in the country, and it contributes to thousands of new cases of lung disease and asthma each year.
9 India Has The Most Vegetarians
If you haven’t tried Indian food, you must. And while most of the people in India eat a vegetarian diet, there are still plenty of chicken, goat, and lamb dishes in their nation. India has the most vegetarians than any other country in the world. We aren’t sure if being a veggie-lover makes you a better person, but India’s Golden Temple feeds thousands of vegetarian meals every day. The poor and needy come to the Golden Temple every day for a warm healthy meal, free of charge. For the rest of us, we have to whip up our own paneer, naan, and biryani.
8 53% of Home Owners Don't Have Indoor Plumbing
We already talked about how India has some of the worst cases of air pollution on the entire planet. Yet here is another distressing statistic about the country. There are more cellphones in India than there is indoor plumbing. An astounding 53% of homeowners do not even have indoor plumbing in their homes. Yet they probably have at least one cell phone in their family. There is clearly a skewed sense of urgency going on here. We truly are living in the digital age when someone would prefer to have technology over a flushable toilet. Combine this with the pollution issues and it is clear why some people think India needs an overhaul!
7 Dowries Kill One Woman Every Hour
A dowry is a tradition that is still going strong in India. When a man and woman are planning to get married (sometimes this is an arranged marriage) the bride and her family will be required to give a sum of money to the groom and his family. This is called a dowry. As you may expect since money is involved, families can get pretty greedy with it and demand large sums of money in exchange for marriage. This is because in India, people want to marry into a social class that is equal to or greater than their own. Unfortunately, crimes related to dowries kill one woman every hour in India.
6 70% of the World's Spices Come From India
We talked before about Indian food and we should have mentioned that it is super flavorful and spicy. With bursts of turmeric, coriander, brown mustard, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, chili, and more, there is a party going on in our mouths when we nosh on Indian food. So it probably comes as no surprise that 70% of the spices used in the entire world come from India. If you want a completely authentic Indian dish, then you would have to go straight to the home of an Indian family, because these things can’t be learned. They take hours of prep and the right amount of spice that you can only tell with experience.
5 Slavery in India
Unfortunately, slavery still exists in the modern age, and in India, there is the highest percentage of modern-day slaves at 14 million people. The really bleak reality is that a lot of times, the slavery is disregarded and many people simply turn a blind eye to it. People in other countries may be blissfully unaware that it is even going on in India. Since there is little legal authority and protection in the country, and laws and regulations are not strictly reinforced, it makes things a lot easier for those who want to own slaves. Most of these people are poor women and children who succumb to forced labor or prostitution.
4 Poverty is Extreme in India
Piggybacking off of the slavery in India, you will witness great extremes in wealth and income gaps in this country. In some areas, people are dirt-poor and can barely afford to feed their families. The average person in India would have to work for many grueling hours each day just to make a tiny sum. The average income comes out to just $1.25 per day. The Indian government has tried subsidizing food, handing out loans, providing agricultural and farming education, and working to decrease illiteracy. And while there have been some improvements, the impoverished regions continue to suffer and falter.
3 India is Biased Towards Males
In fact, there are many developing countries that tend to favor boys over girls. So it may not be a shock to hear that this is the case in India, but this doesn't make it any less shocking. Some families will actually kill female babies because they don’t want the girls to end their family line. About 100,000 to 500,000 girls are murdered each year, simply because of their gender. Sex-selective abortion is very much a real and practiced thing in India, even though it was outlawed back in 1994. Even the girls who do survive are often treated as less-than their male counterparts. More boys than girls received vaccines and other important healthcare services. Gaps in wages and access to education also continue to favor Indian males.
2 Death is Celebrated
According to the Hindu tradition (which is very common in India) the deceased are celebrated and memorialized upon their passing. Cremations are much more common than burials, and the family of the deceased is not permitted to drink alcohol nor eat animal products for the next 12 days. Afterwards, the oldest son in the family will scatter the deceased person’s ashes into a nearby body of water, such as a sea or river. The family celebrates with friends and others with prayer and ceremonial worship. The Hindu death ceremony is referred to as Teravih, and is a time to show respect and help the deceased pass peacefully into the afterlife.
1 Marijuana Milkshakes
The ancient Indians have been using marijuana for thousands of years for a variety of purposes. Nowadays, it is illegal to have any form of marijuana in the country, although there are a few exceptions. Most of these are in regards to Indian traditions and rites. For example, pot is used in some plants, to make resin, and it’s even whipped up into milkshakes. Marijuana was actually one of the 5 sacred plants referenced in the ancient Hindu texts. It has medicinal uses and was used to treat common maladies and in tantric worship. It was also said to have been eaten by Lord Shiva.