Semester in India
Host Country and City
India geographically belongs to South Asia. It is the 7th largest country in the world and second most populous with its population reaching almost 1.2 billion. Four major world religions originate from here - Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism - while Islam, Christianity, Judaism, and Zoroastrianism arrived in the first millennium C.E. and have all shaped India's varied culture. India finally became a modern nation state in 1947 after a long struggle for independence. Although India has the second fastest growing economy in the world, it still battles poverty, illiteracy, and malnutrition.
The scale of India is hard to comprehend and can be overwhelming on every dimension. India is practically a continent and presents tremendous physical and cultural diversity. Its regions range from the Himalayan peaks of Ladakh to the desert kingdoms of Rajasthan, and from the bustling energy of Delhi and Mumbai to the equatorial tropics of Kerala. India has tremendous biodiversity and is home to 6.7% of all mammals, 12% of apes, 6% of reptiles, and 6% of all flowering plants on earth.
On the societal side, India is the largest democracy in world and has the world's second largest Muslim population. Altogether, several hundred languages are spoken in India, including twenty-four with over one million speakers. India is home to many World Heritage sites, including the Taj Mahal, Agra Fort, Humayun's Tomb, Fatehpur Sikri, Konark Sun Temple, Qutub Minar, Sanchi Stupa as well as countless castles, temples and pilgrimage points.
Over the last fifteen years, India has brought itself to the center stage of the world economy. India's engineering and technical strengths are legendary. India has become a powerhouse in software and business development process outsourcing and is making great strides in manufacturing and other high technology fields. There is no doubt that India will be a major economic force in the 21st century, though it will face significant challenges in developing infrastructure and spreading these economic gains to its still overwhelmingly rural population.
Hyderabad is the capital of the Andra Pradesh State of India. Known also as the City of Pearls, the city has one of the largest metropolitan areas of India with a 650 square km area, and a population of around 7 million, making it the fourth most populous city in the country. Hyderabad was established in 1591 AD on the banks of the Musi River on the Deccan Plateau by Sultan Muhammad Quli Qutb Shah. The twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad come under a single municipal unit, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.
The city was once the global center of the pearls and diamond trade. During the late 20th and early 21st centuries though the city emerged as a major global center for the information technology (IT), and biopharmaceutical industries. The city is also home to the Telugu Film Industry, known popularly as Tollywood.
Hyderabad is home to many historical sites, like the UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage site of Chowmahalla Palace. Situated on the crossroads of North and South India, Hyderabad has been noted for its unique culture, art, and architecture and has evolved into a regular tourist hotspot.