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As the 7th largest country in the world, India stands apart from the rest of Asia, marked off as it is by mountains and the sea, which give the country a distinct geographical entity.
Bounded by the Great Himalayas in the north, it stretches southwards and at the Tropic of Cancer, tapers off into the Indian Ocean between the Bay of Bengal on the east and the Arabian Sea on the west.
Let’s take a look at India’s geographical setting:
*Note: [Contiguous Zone – The area ahead of the territorial sea frontier and 24 nautical miles from the main coastline is known as the contiguous zone. In this area, India has the fiscal rights, excise duty rights, rights related to pollution control and right to implement immigration laws.
The nautical region ahead of the contiguous zone which is up to 200 nautical miles from the main coastline is known as the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In this region India has rights to survey, exploitation, conservation and research on mineral resources, marine life etc.]
Observe India’s latitudinal and longitudinal extent. Do you notice that while both the latitudinal and longitudinal extent are roughly about 30 degrees, the actual distance measured from north to south extremity is 3,214 km and that from east to west is only 2,933 km!
What is the reason for this difference?
This is because:
Degrees of latitude are parallel so the distance between each degree remains almost constant but since degrees of longitude are farthest apart at the equator and converge at the poles, their distance varies greatly. See the following figure to understand better:
The longitudinal extent of India is 30 degrees. As the sun rises in the east and sets in the west; it takes 4 minutes for the sun to move across 1 longitude.
Thus, the easternmost point of India would be 2 hours ahead of the westernmost point (30 x 4 = 120 minutes), in accordance with the local time.
This difference in time might create confusion in air and rail timings and so many other things across the two states. To avoid this confusion, 82°30′ East longitude is taken as the Standard Time Meridian of India and its local time is taken a standard throughout the country.
Let’s try and understand:
These rules broadly define the distribution of rainfall in the country as can be seen in the map below:
Still wondering how this influences the soil types and vegetation?
Rainfall experienced by a region, in turn, plays an important role in determining the soil type in that region. For example:
Further, in these areas: Hot and humid climate + Abundant rainfall = favourable conditions for vegetation growth. As a result, the vegetation here is very dense and multilayered with evergreens [Also, called Tropical Evergreen Forests as we will discuss later]
The upper layer of Red soils appears red due to the presence of iron. When the rainfall is in the range of 100-200cm, the rainwater tends to seep to the second layer of soil. Red soils appear yellow in hydrated form, thus the second layer of soils in these areas is yellow in colour.
That’s it for this introductory post on Indian Geography.
In the next post (Click here), we would study in detail the geological structure of India.