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India is (after China) the second most populous country in the world, and as the Indians are always so fond of saying, the biggest democracy on earth. It’s huge, it’s vast, the area it covers is roughly that of Western Europe (or even a bit bigger). As big as India is it is diverse - diverse in all respects.

there are 22 official languages recognised by the constitution plus another estimated 1600 minor languages and dialects spoken. Although Hindi is the official national language, only about 20% of India’s populace speak it as a mother tongue. It is widely spoken in the North, but most people you’ll meet in the South won’t speak Hindi at all. That’s one of the reasons (British imperialism being the other) English is so widely spoken and serves as a lingua franca.

a massive number of religions are represented among India’s population. 81.3% of the population is Hindu (by the way, you have to be born a Hindu, you can’t convert to Hinduism), 12% Muslim, 2.3 % Christian (a lot of whom are former Hindus of the scheduled class (untouchables) who converted to get out of the caste system), 1.9% Sikh (easily recognisable by their turban and their surname Singh if it’s a man or Kaur if it’s a woman), 0.4% Jain (a religion founded in India around 500 BC), 0.01% Zoroastrians or Parsis (an ancient Persian religion); and even a few Jews can be found in Kochi, where there is a tiny old Jewish community which was established about 2000 years ago.