Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/21

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

[17]



A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE INDIAN
PEOPLES.

 


CHAPTER I.

The Country.

Situation and Size.—India is a great three-cornered country, stretching southward from mid-Asia into the ocean. Its northern base rests upon the Himalaya ranges; the chief part of its western side is washed by the Arabian Sea, and the chief part of its eastern side by the Bay of Bengal. But while thus guarded along the whole length of its boundaries by nature's defences, the mountains and the ocean, it has on its north-eastern and on its north-western frontiers two opposite sets of gateways which connect it with the rest of Asia. On the north-east it is bounded by the wild hill-regions between Burma and the Chinese Empire or Tibet; on the north-west by the Muhammadan States of Afghánistán and Balúchistán; and two streams of population of widely diverse types have poured into India by the passes at these north-eastern and north-western corners.

India extends from the eighth to the thirty-sixth degree of north latitude,—that is, from the hot regions near the equator to far within the temperate zone. The capital, Calcutta, lies in 88 degrees of E. longitude; so that, when the sun sets at six o'clock there, it is just past mid-day in England. The length of India from north to south, and its greatest breadth from east to west, are both about 1900 miles; but it tapers with a pear-shaped curve to a point at Cape Comorin, its southern extremity. To this compact dominion the English have added Burma, or the