Geography of India
by Joel Anderson

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Grades 3-6

Physical and Human Geography

Students will:

  • Identify the exact and relative location of India
  • Identify the geographic regions of India
  • Determine latitude and longitude of cities in India
  • Illustrate population density of India

    Time: four, forty minute lessons

Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards

Geography A.4.1 Use reference points, latitude and longitude, direction, size, shape, and scale to locate positions on various representations of the earth’s surface.
  A.4.2 Locate on a map physical features such as continents, oceans, mountain
ranges, and landforms, and human features such as cities, states, and national borders.
  A.8.1 Use a variety of geographic representations, such as political,
physical, and topographic maps, to gather and compare information about a place.

A.8.11 Give examples of causes and consequences of current global issues such as world population.

Physical Geography:

India is the world’s seventh largest country in size. It is approximately one-third the size of the United States of America. India is located on the world’s largest continent, Asia. India is often called a sub continent, meaning that it is part of Asia, yet it is a large land mass with differences in physical features, climatic conditions, natural vegetation, human habitations, religions, languages, economic, and social activities which are characteristics of continents.

Location: India extends from 8 to 38 degrees north latitude and from 69 to 97 degrees east longitude. The tropic of Cancer divides the country approximately in half.

Relative Location: India is a peninsula with the Bay of Bengal on the east, Indian Ocean on the south, and Arabian Sea on the west. The Himalayas form the northern boundary. China, Nepal, and Bhutan are to the north of India. Bangladesh, and Myanmar are to the east of India. Pakistan and Afghanistan are to the Northwest. Sri Lanka is south of India. The Bay of Bengal is the largest bay in the world by area. Hudson Bay in Canada has a longer shoreline.

See Map: World Location of India

Have your students:

- Color India Red
- Color the United States of America Green. Be careful. The USA does not occupy all of North America.
-Label the equator and write 0 degrees on the Equator
- Label the Tropic of Cancer and write 23 degrees North Latitude on the Tropic of Cancer
- Label the Arabian Sea
- Label the Bay of Bengal
- Label the Indian Ocean

See Map: India and Neighboring Countries

Physical Features:

India can be divided into six natural regions:

I. Himalayas
II. Indo-Gangetic Plain
III. Central Plateau
IV. Deccan Plateau
V. East Coast
VI. West Coast

The Himalayas:

The Himalayas are the highest mountains in the world. Himalayas means the “abode of snow.” The Himalayas are located in the northernmost region of the South Asian Subcontinent. Mount Everest is the highest peak in the world, and is part of the Himalayas in Nepal. K2 is the highest peak in the Himalayas within India. The Himalayas have acted as a natural barrier against enemies. The Himalayas prevent cold wind of Central Asia from entering India and stop Southwest monsoon winds helping drop rain and making India fertile. The Perennial, or long lasting rivers of North India, find their source in the Himalayas. Tourists are attracted to the natural beauty of the area. Valuable timber grows in the forests of the Himalayas.

The Indo-Gangetic Plain:

The Indo-Gangetic Plain lies at the foothills of the Himalayas. The Indus and Ganges Rivers make the Indo-Gangetic Plain one of the most fertile basins of the world. Food, grains, and sugar cane are grown here. It is believed that the ancient civilizations of India were founded near river areas. Today these regions remain densely populated. The Ganges (also called the Ganga) is the longest river in India.

Central Plateau:

The Central Plateau (Malwa Plateau) divides North India and South India. The plateau is made of hard crystalline rocks. Coal, iron ore, and manganesium are the main minerals found here.

The Deccan Plateau:

The Deccan Plateau is triangular shaped. The northern part slopes westwards and rivers in that region flow to the Arabian Sea, while the southern part slopes eastward and rivers in that region flow to the Bay of Bengal. The plateau is bounded on the east and west by mountain ranges know as the Eastern and Western Ghats. The coastal strip between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea is narrow, while that between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal is broad. The rivers on the west coast are short and swift and do not end in deltas. On the east coast, a number of rivers form deltas. There are more ports and natural harbors in the west than in the east. The northwestern part of the plateau has lava soil well suited for cotton cultivation.

East Coast:

The East Coast lies between the Eastern Ghats and the Bay of Bengal. The main rivers and deltas of the south are located in this region.

West Coast:

This regions lies between the Western Ghats and the Arabian Sea. This is a narrow long plain. There are many lagoons along the coast, useful for island transport.

Rivers: There are a number of large rivers in India. Almost all the rivers in North India have their source in the high snow-clad Himalayas. The rivers of North India never dry up. The Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra River systems are the major rivers of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. The rivers in the north are long and deep. The smooth plains these rivers cross make them good for navigation and irrigation because they do not have waterfalls. The rivers in South India are rain-fed and dry up in the hot and dry season. The peninsular rivers of the south have their source in the Western Ghats and flow across hills making a number of waterfalls, which are not navigable, but provide Hydro-electricity. The Narmada, Tapti, Periyar, Mahanadi, Godavari, Krishna, and Cauvery are other major rivers of India.

See Map: India- Physical Features

Have your students label the following:

- The Himalayas
- The Indo-Gangetic Plain
- The Central Plateau (Malwa Plateau)
- The Deccan Plateau
- Eastern Ghats
- Western Ghats
- Mount Everest
- K2
- Arabian Sea
- Bay of Bengal
- Indian Ocean

See Map: India- Water Bodies

Have your students color the following rivers blue and label them:

- Indus
- Ganges (Ganga)
- Brahmaputra
- Narmada
- Tapti
- Mahanadi
- Godavari
- Krishna

See Map: India-Density (Blank map here)
Have students color the area south of Nepal showing a population density of 401-600 persons per square km yellow. This area is part of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.

Have your students identify the Latitude and Longitude of the following Cities in India:
Mumbai, New Delhi, Calcutta, Chennai, Madurai


Besides mainland India, there are two groups of islands which belong to India. The Lakshadweep islands are in the Arabian Sea, west of the Kerala coast. The thirty-six islands were formerly known as the Laccadive, Minicoy and Amindivi islands. The Lakshadweep Islands are the smallest union territory in area and population. When the tiny sea creatures surrounding the Lashadweep Islands die, their shells, made of calcium carbonate turn into white limestone and form the white sandy beaches. The Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal consists of hundreds of islands. They form a lush green archipelago. The bay islands are also called Kala Pani because the depth of the sea gives the water surrounding the islands a blackish color. Indira Point, in the Nicobar Islands, is the southern-most point of India.

- In which hemisphere is India located? Northern or Southern? Eastern or Western?
- Name the continent on which India is located.
- Name the physical boundaries of India.
- Name neighboring countries of India.
- What are advantages of the Himalayas?
- Name the highest peak in the Himalayas.
- Name two major rivers in India.
- Rank India in world land area.
- Name the main tributary of Ganges.
- Into which body of water does the Indus River flow?
- Compare and contrast the rivers of North India and South India.

Political Divisions:
India is a union of twenty-seven States and seven union territories. The national capital is New Delhi. Each state and territory has its own capital.

See Map: India-Political (blank map here)

See Chart:
Political Divisions of India

Have students label as many states and territories and their capitals as you can.

- Name the capital of India.
- How many states comprise India?
- How many union territories are part of India?
- Name the capital Tamil Nadu.
- Name the capital of Kerala.
- What is Pondicherry?
- Labels the islands in the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal that belong to India.


Tamilnadu is a state in the southeast part of India. Its boundaries are Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on the north, the Bay of Bengal on the east, Kerala on the west and the Indian Ocean on the south. Tamilnadu is the eleventh largest state in India by area and seventh largest state in population. Most of Tamilnadu is a plain. The Western Ghats Mountains are in the west. The Eastern Ghats Mountains meet the Western Ghats Mountains at Nilgiri Hills. The southernmost tip of Tamilnadu is Kanniyakumari. The Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, and Indian Ocean meet at Kanniyakumari. Important rivers of Tamilnadu include Palar, Pennaiyar, Cauvery, Vaigai, and Tamiraparani.
Chennai, the fourth largest city in India, is the capital of Tamilnadu. It was also called Madras from the British period until very recently. It is located on the northeast coast of Tamil Nadu. It is an important international trade center and has a large man-made harbor. The governor, the chief minister, and all other government offices are in Chennai. Chennai was developed significantly during the British rule, because it was the center of the East India Trading Company; it has remained a thriving city since Independence. The second longest beach in the world called Marina Beach is in Chennai on the Coromandel Coast.
Tamil Nadu is divided into thirty districts.
Tamilnadu is the ________________________ largest state in India.
The Western Ghats and Eastern Ghats meet at ____________________________.
The tallest peak in South India is ___________________________.
The coastline along Chennai is called _______________________.
Name the southernmost tip of Tamilnadu.
Name the capital of Tamilnadu.
The World’s population is about six billion people. India’s population is about one billion people making it the second largest country by population after China. The USA has about three hundred million people, about one third the population of India. India is the world’s seventh largest country by area. India is about one third the area of The USA.
Demonstrate the comparative population density of India and the USA. Mark a circle with yarn about twelve feet in diameter and have three students stand in the marked area. Ask the students inside the circle to do ten jumping jacks. This represents the population density of the USA. Divide the circle into thirds and this time have nine students stand in just one section of the circle. Have the nine students in the circle do ten jumping jacks. This represents the population density of India.

What are some advantages and disadvantages of greater population density.
More friends Crowded cities
More shopping More traffic
More museums Strain on resources
More efficient public transportation Spread of disease
To understand large numbers when talking about population, make a chart to determine your age in various time measurements and compare your age to the population of the world, India, and some cities in Tamilnadu
One month
One year
Ten years
Twenty years
Thirty years
Forty years
Months 1 12 120 240 360 480
Weeks 4 52 520 960 1440 1920
Days 30 365 3640 6720 10080 13440
Hours 720 8760 87360 161280 241920 322560
Minutes 43200 525600 5241600 9676800 14515200 1935360
Seconds 2592000 31536000 314496000 580608000 870912000 1161216000

Ask your students the following questions:
How many years old would you have to be to equal the world’s population if each second of life counted for one person? About 200 years
How old would you have to be to equal the population of India if each second of life counted for one person? About 35 years
How old would you have to be to equal the population of the USA if each second of life counted as one person? About ten years
How old would you have to be to equal the population of Chennai if each second of life counted as one person? Six weeks
How old would you have to be to equal the population of Madurai if each second of life counted as one person? Two weeks


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