Two of the main classical languages of the world Tamil language and Sanskrit language were born in India. Both of these languages are more than 3000 years old. The country founded a religion called Hinduism, which most Indians still follow. Later, a king named Chandragupt Maurya built an empire called the Maurya Empire in 300 BC. It made most of South Asia into one whole country. From 180 BC, many other countries invaded India. Even later (100 BC AD 1100), other Indian dynasties (empires) came, including the Chalukyas, Cholas, Pallavas, and Pandyas. Southern India at that time was famous for its science, art, and writing. The Cholas of Thanjavur were pioneers at war in the seas and invaded Malaya, Borneo, Cambodia. The influence of Cholas are still well noticeable in SE Asia.
Many dynasties ruled India around the year 1000. Some of these were the Mughal, Vijayanagara, and the Maratha empires. In the 1600s, European countries invaded India, and the British controlled most of India by 1856.
In the early 1900s, millions of people peacefully started to protest against British control. One of the people who led the freedom movement was Mahatma Gandhi, who only used peaceful tactics, including a way called “ahimsa”, which means “non-violence”. On 15 August 1947, India peacefully became free and independent from the British Empire. India’s constitution was founded on 26 January 1950. Every year, on this day, Indians celebrate Republic Day. The first official leader (Prime Minister) of India was Jawaharlal Nehru.
After 1947, India had a socialist planned economy. It is one of the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement and the United Nations. It has fought many wars since independence from Britain, including the wars in 1947-48, 1965, 1971, and 1999 with Pakistan and in 1962 with China. It also fought a war to capture Goa, a Portuguese-built port and a city which was not a part of India until 1961. The Portuguese refused to give it to the country, and so India had to use force and the Portuguese were defeated. India has also done nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998, and it is one of the few countries that has nuclear bombs. Since 1991, India has been one of the fastest-growing economies in the world.