General information about India

Although India occupies only 2.4% of the world's land area, it supports over 15% of the world's population. Only China has a larger population. Almost 40% of Indians are younger than 15 years of age. About 70% of the people live in more than 550,000 villages, and the remainder in more than 200 towns and cities. Over thousands of years of its history, India has been invaded from the Iranian plateau, Central Asia, Arabia, Afghanistan, and the West; Indian people and culture have absorbed and changed these influences to produce a remarkable racial and cultural synthesis.

Religion, caste, and language are major determinants of social and political organization in India today. The government has recognized 18 languages as official; Hindi is the most widely spoken.

Although 83% of the people are Hindu, India also is the home of more than 120 million Muslims--one of the world's largest Muslim populations. The population also includes Christians, Sikhs, Jains, Buddhists, and Parsis.

The caste system reflects Indian occupational and religiously defined hierarchies. Traditionally, there are four broad categories of castes (varnas), including a category of outcastes, earlier called "untouchables" but now commonly referred to as "dalits." Within these broad categories there are thousands of castes and subcastes , whose relative status varies from region to region. Despite economic modernization and laws countering discrimination against the lower end of the class structure, the caste system remains an important source of social identification for most Hindus and a potent factor in the political life of the country.

optimal time for travelling:
It gets quite cool in the north and in altitudes at night Novembers till February, though

good time for travelling:
From time to time, September until May the Monsun comes later, it then still can be uncomfortable in September, it already gets quite hot in the south in March, it gets hot in the north only in April and May.

hot season:
the months March until May in the south and April/May in the north are tolerable
The monsoon is coming from the south at end of June/July till August/September

Travelers' Health
Health and prophylaxis:

  • Chikungunya fever
    Exciters are the alpha viruses, which will be transfered by mosquitoes.
    An inoculation is not possible, since there is no appropriate medicine.
    Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors. Use insect repellents that contain DEET. If no screening or air conditioning is available use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours and sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.
  • Hepatitis Type A and hepatitis Type B
    A increased infection risk exists throughout the country. Transmission of Hepatitis B can occur through activities that involve contact with blood or blood-derived fluids. Transmission of Hepatitis A can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested from sewage-contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling
    To protect yourself do not share needles for tattoos, body piercing or injections and only drink bottled or boiled water, or carbonated (bubbly) drinks in cans or bottles. Avoid tap water, fountain drinks, and ice cubes. Always use latex condoms. A preventing inoculation is recommendable.
  • Bird flu virus
    In India the virus was not proven in humans. Most cases of H5N1 influenza in humans are thought to have occurred from direct contact with infected poultry in affected countries. Contact with sick or dead poultry as well as with poultry that have no apparent symptoms should be avoided. Contact with surfaces that may have been contaminated by poultry feces or secretions should also be avoided.
    To protect yourself avoid poultry farms, bird markets, and other places where live poultry is raised or kept.
    Meals, which were heated up on over 70 degrees, can be eaten heedlessly.
  • Infections by contaminated meals or beverages
    Hepatitis A, typhoid fever, diarrhea and vomiting or worm-related diseases will be transfered by contaminated meals and beverages.
    To protect yourself do not eat food purchased from street vendors or food that is not well cooked to reduce risk of infection. Do not drink beverages with ice (No ice please!). Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized.
  • Rabies
    Particularly by the increase of roaming, abandoned dogs a increased risk of the infection exists.
    World-wide India is the country with the highest infection rate.
    To protect yourself do not handle animals, especially monkeys, dogs, and cats, to avoid bites and serious diseases. Consider pre-exposure rabies vaccination if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas.
  • Malaria
    There is a risk in the north and the west of the country.
    Protect yourself from mosquito insect bites by wearing long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and hats when outdoors. Use insect repellents that contain DEET. If no screening or air conditioning is available use a pyrethroid-containing spray in living and sleeping areas during evening and night-time hours and sleep under bed nets, preferably insecticide-treated ones.
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