By the early 18th century, with the lines between commercial and political dominance being increasingly blurred, a number of European trading companies, including the English East India Company, had established coastal outposts.
The East India Company's control of the seas, greater resources, and more advanced military training and technology led it to increasingly flex its military muscle and caused it to become attractive to a portion of the Indian elite; both these factors were crucial in allowing the company to gain control over the Bengal region by 1765 and sideline the other European companies.
Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country.
These included the consolidation and demarcation of sovereignty, the surveillance of the population, and the education of citizens (English Education Act 1835).
Technological changes—among them, railways, canals, and the telegraph—were introduced not long after their introduction in Europe.
It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country (with over 1.2 billion people), and the most populous democracy in the world.
It is bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, and the Bay of Bengal on the southeast.
Historians consider India's modern age to have begun sometime between 18.
The appointment in 1848 of Lord Dalhousie as Governor General of the East India Company set the stage for changes essential to a modern state.
The caste system arose during this period, creating a hierarchy of priests, warriors, free peasants and traders, and lastly the indigenous peoples who were regarded as impure; and small tribal units gradually coalesced into monarchical, state-level polities.
In the late Vedic period, around the 6th century BCE, the small states and chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas.
Home to the ancient Indus Valley Civilisation and a region of historic trade routes and vast empires, the Indian subcontinent was identified with its commercial and cultural wealth for much of its long history.
Four religions–Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism–originated in India, whereas Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam arrived in the first millennium CE, and they also played a part in shaping the region's diverse culture.
It shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh to the east.