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South Asia refers to the Indian subcontinent and its adjoining areas to the south of the Asian continent. It is bounded on the west by West Asia or the Middle East, on the north by Central Asia, and on the east by East Asia and Southeast Asia.
Definition and application
South Asia consists of the following states (alphabetically):
The Indian subcontinent refers to the countries that are geographically located on the Indian plate and south of the Eurasian plate. Geopolitically, the Indian subcontinent includes parts of South Asia or South Asia, i.e. countries outside and close to the Indian plate. For example: Afghanistan is sometimes considered part of the region because of its existing political and social ties with Pakistan and as part of the ancient Maurya and Mughal empires.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC for short) is a government agency in South Asia. Its member countries are Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Afghanistan. People's Republic of China and Japan have been selected as SAARC observers. SAARC was established on December 6, 1975. The leaders of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives and Sri Lanka signed a royal charter to promote regional relations, economic, social and cultural development in South Asia and friendly relations and cooperation with other developing countries.
South Asia has a population of about 1.749 billion, making it the most populous region in the world. It is socially very mixed, consisting of many language divisions and religions, and the social practices of one region which are of a completely different nature from another region.
Largest urban area
There are many languages in South Asia. The spoken languages of this region are mainly divided on the basis of geography and across religious boundaries but the written scripts are vastly divided by religious boundaries. In particular, Muslims in South Asia, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, use the Arabic alphabet and Persian Nastaliq. Until 1971, Muslim-dominated Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan) made only the Nastaliq script compulsory, but has since adopted the regional script and especially the Bengali language. Non-Muslims in South Asia and some Muslims in India, on the other hand, use their traditional ancient scripts, such as the Brahmi script for Indo-European languages and the Brahmi script for Dravidian and other languages.
In 2010, Hindus, Jains and Sikhs had the largest population in the world in South Asia, with about 510 million Muslims, as well as 25 million Buddhists and 35 million Christians. Hindus make up about 6 per cent or about 900 million Hindus and 31 per cent or 510 million Muslims in the population of the whole of South Asia, the rest being mostly Buddhists, Jains, Christians and Sikhs. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bhutan; Muslims are concentrated in Afghanistan (99%), Bangladesh (90%), Pakistan (99%) and Maldives (100%).
Among the Indian religions, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism originated in India. Indian religions have shared terms, beliefs, goals and concepts individually and have spread from South Asia to East Asia and Southeast Asia. Later, the Arab Caliphs conquered parts of Sindh, Balochistan and parts of the Punjab, along with Muslims from Persia and Central Asia, resulting in the spread of both Shia and Sunni Islam in parts of northwestern South Asia. About one-third of Muslims come from South Asia.