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India

Located within South Asia, India is the 7th largest nation in the world in terms of area.  It is divided into 28 states and 7 union territories with New Delhi being the nation’s capital.  The country spans a variety of contrasting environments, including humid and lush tropical rain forests in the south, dry and desolate deserts in the west, and the perpetually snowcapped Himalayan mountains towering in the north.  The land ranges in elevation from 0 meters at the Indian Ocean to the world’s third highest peak, Kanchenjung, found along the border with Nepal and reaching an impressive 8,586 meters above sea level.

The weather has three distinct seasons, winter, summer and monsoon.  India frequently experiences natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, landslides and droughts.  This includes parts of Bihar which are prone to severe flooding, raising the need for emergency assistance.

India is the second most populous country on earth, with approximately 1.16 billion persons, nearly 17% of the world’s population.  It has been home to many ancient civilizations and remains a diverse weave of cultures and religions.  There are 22 officially recognized languages with Hindi being the most widely spoken.  Additionally, there are hundreds of other languages spoken within India.

While the diverse social range can be celebrated it also is the basis for the underlying challenge in creating an equal playing field for all people.  Rooted in the past but still existing today are social biases based on gender, caste, ethnicity or religion.  This is even seen in orphanages, where for instance, girls often receive less care than boys.

About one of every three people live in urban areas.  Living conditions vastly differ between rural and urban areas.  Generally, there are a wider range of services available in urban areas and living conditions are better.  Some of the poorest rural areas are the tribal areas of the north, including Bihar.

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