Swagat/ Swaa-gut / Welcome!
India's culture is among the world's oldest; civilization in India began about 4,500 years ago.
India has 28 states and seven territories. There is no official language in India, though Hindi is the official language of the government. The Constitution of India officially recognizes 23 official languages. Sanskrit, an ancient Indo-European language usually referred to in action movies, came from Northern India. How the language started has been a point of argument amongst linguists. It shares many similarities with English, French, Farsi and Russian languages.
India is identified as the birthplace of Hinduism and Buddhism, the third and fourth largest religions.About 13 percent of Indians are Muslim, making it one of the largest Islamic nations in the world. Christians and Sikhs make up a small percentage of the population, and there are even fewer Buddhists and Jains.
Wheat, Basmati rice and pulses with chana (Bengal gram) are important staples of the Indian diet. The food is rich with curries and spices, including ginger, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, dried hot peppers, and cinnamon, among others. Chutneys — thick condiments and spreads made from assorted fruits and vegetables such as tamarind and tomatoes and mint, cilantro and other herbs — are used generously in Indian cooking.
Many Hindus are vegetarian, but lamb and chicken are common in main dishes for non-vegetarians. The Guardian reports that between 20 percent and 40 percent of India's population is vegetarian.