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It is a modernisation of the historical name Bharatavarsha, which traditionally referred to the Indian subcontinent and gained increasing currency from the mid-19th century as a native name for India.
The Hindu text Skanda Purana states that the region was named "Bharat" after Bharata Chakravartin.
India's Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia.
The Indian subcontinent was home to the urban Indus Valley Civilisation of the 3rd millennium BCE — one of the world's earliest civilizations.
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.
Eschewing tribal bonds and Islamic identity, especially under Akbar, the Mughals united their far-flung realms through loyalty, expressed through a Persianised culture, to an emperor who had near-divine status.
It shares land borders with Pakistan to the west; China, Nepal, and Bhutan to the northeast; and Myanmar (Burma) and Bangladesh to the east.
In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives.
In the mid-18th century, the subcontinent came under British East India Company rule, and in the mid-19th under British crown rule.
A nationalist movement emerged in the late 19th century, which later, under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolent resistance and led to India's independence in 1947.