Unit 9: South Asia
South Asia was the birthplace of two of the world's great religions: Hinduism and Buddhism. Today, South Asia also includes a large Muslim population, and many followers of other religions. While Pakistan and Iran are both Islamic republics, each represents a significant branch of that faith; Iran is predominantly Shia, and Pakistan is mostly Sunni. In the east, Bangladesh and India share a border with Myanmar. Bangladesh is mainly a Muslim country, while most Indians are Hindu. Most people in Myanmar are Buddhist. Sikhism is a major religion in the Punjab region on India's northern border with Pakistan.
In this unit, we explore and analyze the diverse physical, cultural, political, and economic characteristics of South Asia. First, we will look at the physical geography of the region, paying special attention to its climate, and the Indian monsoon in particular. Then, we will explore the region's population growth. Balancing natural capital and population growth remains a major issue in the region. South Asia is highly populated, with about 1.5 billion people across a wide range of ethnic and cultural groups. We will close out this unit by analyzing its globalizing forces, and then taking an in-depth look at the countries in the region.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- summarize the physical geography of South Asia;
- explain the dynamics of the monsoon and how it affects human activities;
- describe how European colonialism has affected South Asia;
- explain why rapid population growth is a concern for the countries of South Asia;
- discuss how and why Kashmir is divided and its importance to the region;
- summarize the main environmental concerns of the states of South Asia;
- outline the main environmental issues that confront Pakistan and Bangladesh;
- discuss the history of why East Pakistan became Bangladesh;
- summarize the main economic activities and economic conditions in India;
- describe how British colonialism affected India; and
- discuss the religions of South Asia and India, specifically the origin and migration of Buddhism.
MapCheck: South Asia
Can you name the mountain ranges, rivers, and countries marked on this map of South Asia?
9.1: Introducing South Asia
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of the nations of South Asia, the dynamics of the monsoon, and how it affects human activities. It also explores how European colonialism has affected the region culturally and politically.
Watch this video, which describes the experience of swimming in a lake on Mount Everest that was formed by glacial ice melt.
Watch this video for a brief explanation of what creates the Indian monsoon.
9.2: The Peripheral States of South Asia
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of the peripheral regions and states of South Asia, including Kashmir, Bhutan, and Nepal, and explores the environmental challenges that afflict the region.
9.3: Pakistan and Bangladesh
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of Pakistan and Bangladesh, and explores why East Pakistan became the country of Bangladesh.
This section introduces the physical, cultural, and economic characteristics of India, and explores how British colonialism has affected India.
Watch this video, which explores different beliefs about gods, death, and heaven in India.
Watch this video, where one of cricket's premier commentators describes the emergence of fast-paced 20-20 cricket, a global phenomenon that parallels the rise of modern India.
Watch this video on Buddhism and compassion.
9.5: Religions of India and South Asia
This section introduces the major religions of India and South Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity.