1. India is the world’s largest democracy.
Based on the most recent United Nation’s estimates, the current population of India is over 1.3 billion, making it the second largest country by population and comprising approximately 18% of the total world population. The country’s population alone is impressive, and it is governed as a democracy with three arms of the government-the executive, the legislature (parliament) and the judiciary. Many governmental officials in these three facets are elected, making India the largest democracy in the world.
2. India is the second largest English speaking country in the world.
English is the third most widely spoken language in the world, with only Chinese and Spanish ranking higher, and with such a large overall population it’s no surprise that India has a very large number of English-speakers. Over 125 million people in India speak English, which is still only approximately 11% of the total population. However, considering that 96% of the United States is English-speaking and the country only has twice that number of total speakers than India, or approximately 251 million, this figure is certainly impressive.
3. The largest gathering of humans in the world happens in India.
Thought to be the largest gathering of humans in the world, the Hindu Kumbh Mela is held at one of four holy sites in India-on the banks of the Godavari river in Nashik, the Shipra river in Ujjain, the Ganges river in Haridwar, and at the confluence of 3 rivers-the Yamuna, Saraswati and Ganges. The festival itself happens approximately every 3 years, although the exact date depends on astrological and religious details and it rotates through the 4 sites, meaning that it occurs at each approximately every 12 years. Over 100 million visitors attend the Kumbh Mela making it the largest gathering in the world. In fact, it is so big that the crowd is visible from outer space!
4. The first university in the world started in India.
Sometime around 700 B.C., in the Bharat region of India, the world’s oldest recognized university was established. Taxila, or Takshashila, was operational for over 800 years and was quite famous with over 300 lecture halls, laboratories, an observatory and an impressive library. Students over the age of 16 could study subjects including complex mathematics, languages, dance, music, commerce, politics, warfare, archery, medicine, surgery, philosophy, grammer, and the vedas (scripture).
5. Indians have the lowest meat consumption in the world.
According to one survey, a whopping 31% of Indians indicated they were vegetarian and another 9% were ovo-vegetarian meaning they also consume eggs. For primarily cultural reasons, even those who consume meat do so at a lower rate than meat-eaters in other countries. In fact, vegetarianism is so common that restaurants located in India must comply with mandatory labelling of vegetarian products with a green dot and non-vegetarian with a red dot.
6. India has never invaded another country.
Despite being invaded many times by others, India itself has never instigated an invasion upon another country. Remarkably, Hinduism has survived as the most ancient and only continuously surviving religion and culture while so many others disappeared throughout over two millennia of near-continuous invasions. Included as those who have invaded India are the Greeks led by Alexander, the Arabs, the Turks, the Mamluk dynasty, the Khiljis, the Tughlaqs, the Sayyid and Lodhi dynasties, the Bahamanis, the Mughals, the Portuguese and finally the British. India finally became independent in 1947.
7. The oldest continuously inhabited city in the world is located in India.
There are varying accounts for the title of oldest city in the world, with many lists indicating that it may be Damascus, Jericho, or Aleppo. However, these cities typically show that inhabitation started between 8 and 11 centuries ago. Archaeological evidence from Varanasi, also known as Benares, in Uttar Pradesh, indicates that settlements in that area began in the 20th century B.C. Texts from the same period also suggest that the area was populated by indigenous tribes, confirming that it was inhabited. Since it is still populated today, this would make it the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world!
8. The world’s largest family is located in India.
The world’s largest family is comprised of one husband, Ziona Chana, with 39 wives, 94 children, 14 daughters-in law, and 33 grandchildren. This means the total number of family members is 181! The family lives in the Indian state of Mizoram in the Baktwang village in a 100-room, four-story house. A single meal for the family can consist of up to 30 chickens, up to 132 pounds of potatoes and up to 220 pounds of rice. Chana has reported that he married up to ten women in one year and he has said that he has not stopped looking for additional wives, despite the enormous size of his current family. He has also reported that he considers himself blessed to have so many people to look after.