India is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world. From the traces of hominoid activity discovered in the subcontinent, it is recognized that the area now known as India was inhabited approximately 250,000 years ago.
From the Bronze Age, the earliest known civilization (in India) that has been studied extensively, was the ‘Indus Valley Civilization,’ or the Harappan Civilization.
This civilization existed along the flood plains of the Indus River (northwest India) between 3,300 BCE and 1,300 BCE. Archeologists and historians believe that the Indus Valley Civilization is the same as the civilization of Meluhha, mention in Ancient Mesopotamian texts. This would indicate that rich cultures and urban civilizations flourished in the country some 5,500 years ago.
In fact, by looking at the antiquity of the ancient city of Dwarka, which now lies submerged some 70 feet beneath the Arabian Sea, there seems to have been a thriving civilization in western India some 9,000 years ago. According to indigenous mythology, highly advanced civilizations have inhabited the land even 10,000 years ago.
The migration of the Aryans to the northern plains of India, and the onset of the Vedic Civilization (which lasted between 1,500 BCE and 500 BCE) was a turning point in the areas history, as it saw much of the forested lands of the north cleared by (newly discovered) iron tools and the establishment of great cities. Vedic texts, however, refer to the existence of native tribes in India for centuries prior to their arrival.
Through most of ancient and medieval times, India remained fragmented into various small (and often warring) princely states. Various kings and emperors tried to unite a large part of the country under their reigns, but these empires eventually disintegrated. This made it easy for the British to find a foothold in the country in the mid-18th century. The British colonial rule was a time of much economic and social distress for Indians, but it also provided incentive to unite the vast country in a bond of nationalism. India gained independence on August 15th, 1947, marking the birth of the world’s largest democracy. Two years after independence, India adopted its new constitution on January 26th, 1950, thus becoming the Republic of India.