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Indian subcontinent

Indian subcontinent
Indian subcontinent.JPG
Area 4.4 million km2 (1.7 million mi²)
Population 1.749 billion (2013)
Pop. density 387/km2
Demonym Subcontinental
Countries Bangladesh
Sri Lanka

The Indian subcontinent or the subcontinent, also called Indian continent, is a southern region of Asia, mostly situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the land mass that rifted from Gondwana and merged with the Eurasian plate nearly 55 million years ago. Geographically, it is the peninsular region in south-central Asia delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. Politically, the Indian subcontinent usually includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Sometimes, the term South Asia is used interchangeably with Indian subcontinent. There is no consensus about which countries should be included in each.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term "subcontinent" signifies a "subdivision of a continent which has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity" and also a "large land mass somewhat smaller than a continent". It is first attested in 1845 to refer to the North and South Americas, before they were regarded as separate continents. Its use to refer to the Indian subcontinent is seen from the early twentieth century. It was especially convenient for referring to the region comprising both the British India and the princely states under British Paramountcy.

The term Indian subcontinent also has a geological significance. It was, like the various continents, a part of the supercontinent of Gondwana. A series of tectonic splits caused formation of various basins, each drifting in various directions. The geological region called the "Greater India" once included the Madagascar, Seychelles, Antartica, Austrolasia along with the Indian subcontinent basin. As a geological term, Indian subcontinent has meant that region formed from the collision of the Indian basin with Eurasia nearly 55 million years ago, towards the end of Paleocene.