Before independence, India had primarily two types of states – provinces and princely states. While provinces were directly ruled by British officials appointed by the Viceroy, the princely states were ruled by local rulers who inherited the states from their forefathers.
The present day India has 28 states and 7 union territories. The coastal states of India are: Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and West Bengal.
The coastline is shared by the union territories of: Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Daman and Diu, The Lakshadweep Islands and Puducherry.
Goa is the smallest state while Rajasthan is the largest state in India. Rajasthan shares its western border with Pakistan along with Gujarat, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. The state of Jammu and Kashmir shares its north-western border with Afghanistan as well with its capital in Kabul.
Afghanistan has been an ancient focal point for trade and migration between the East and the West. The north-eastern neighbours of India are– China, Nepal and Bhutan. The Chinese border stretches all the way from the state of Jammu and Kashmir in the north to Arunachal Pradesh in the east, passing along the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Sikkim.
China is known to be one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with its capital at Beijing. India shares its northern border with Nepal, which is the world’s smallest Hindu state with the capital of Kathmandu.
The Indian states sharing border with Nepal are Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Sikkim. Sikkim, West Bengal along with Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, also share border with Bhutan. Bhutan has its capital at Thimpu.
India shares its eastern border with Myanmar and Bangladesh. The earlier name of Myanmar was Burma and has its capital at Rangoon.
Myanmar shares its border with most of the north-eastern states of India, starting from Arunachal Pradesh to Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura. Tripura also shares its border with Bangladesh. Bangladesh is bordered by India on all sides, except in the south.
The other Indian states that share a common border with Bangladesh are: Meghalaya, West Bengal and a small part of Assam.
Bangladesh was earlier known as East Pakistan and was part of Pakistan. In 1971, it was declared an independent country and came to be known as Bangladesh. Bangladesh has its capital at Dhaka. The other neighboring countries of India which do not share border with it are the island countries of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, in the south.
Sri Lanka was previously known as Ceylon. Sri Lanka is separated from India by a narrow channel of sea called the Palk Strait. The strait connects the Bay of Bengal in the east to the Gulf of Mannar in the south. The capital of Sri Lanka is Sri Jayawardenapura – Kotte. The Maldives Islands are located to the south of the Lakshadweep Islands. Maldives is the smallest Asian country and has its capital at Male.