The Indian subcontinent, or simply the subcontinent, is a physiographical region in South Asia. It is situated on the Indian Plate and projecting southwards into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geopolitically, the Indian subcontinent generally includes Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as Maldives. Geologically, the Indian subcontinent is related to the landmass that rifted from the supercontinent Gondwana during the Cretaceous and merged with the Eurasian landmass nearly 55 million years ago. Geographically, it is the peninsular region in South-Central Asia, delineated by the Himalayas in the north, the Hindu Kush in the west, and the Arakanese in the east. The terms Indian subcontinent and South Asia are sometimes used interchangeably to denote the region, although the term South Asia usually also includes Afghanistan.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term subcontinent signifies a "subdivision of a continent which has a distinct geographical, political, or cultural identity" and also a "large land mass somewhat smaller than a continent". Its use to signify the Indian subcontinent is evidenced from the early twentieth century when most of the territory was part of British India, as it was a convenient term to refer to the region comprising both British India and the princely states under British Paramountcy.
Indian subcontinent as a term has been particularly common in the British Empire and its successors, while the term South Asia is the more common usage in... ...read more