India is the most culturally, linguistically and genetically diverse geographical entity after the African continent.
- India is home to two major linguistic families:
- Indo-Aryan (spoken by about 74% of the population)
- Dravidian (spoken by about 24%)
Other languages spoken in India come from the Austro-Asiatic and Tibeto-Burman linguistic families. Hindi, with the largest number of speakers, is the official language of the union. English, which is extensively used in business and administration, has the status of a 'subsidiary official language; it is also important in education, especially as a medium of higher education. In addition, every state and union territory has its own official languages, and the constitution also recognises in particular 21 other languages that are either abundantly spoken or have classical status. While Sanskrit and Tamil have been studied as classical languages for many years, the Government of India, using its own criteria, has also accorded classical language status to Kannada and Telugu. The number of dialects in India is as high as 1,652.
Over 800 million Indians (80.5%) are Hindu. Other religious groups include Muslims (13.4%), Christians (2.3%), Sikhs (1.9%), Buddhists (0.8%), Jains (0.4%), Jews, Zoroastrians, Bahá'ís and others. Tribals constitute 8.1% of the population. India has the third-highest Muslim population in the world and has the highest population of Muslims for a non-Muslim majority country.
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