South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries Topographically, it is dominated by the Indian Plate, which rises above sea level as the Indian subcontinent south of the Himalayas and the Hindu Kush. South Asia typically consists of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. South Asia had never been a coherent geopolitical region, it has a distinct geographical identity.
South Asia is home to well over one fifth of the world’s population, making it both the most populous and most densely populated geographical region in the world. The region is home to an astounding variety of geographical features, such as glaciers, rainforests, valleys, deserts, and grasslands that are typical of much larger continents. It is surrounded by three water bodies — the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea.
Almost all South Asian countries were under direct or indirect European Colonial subjugation at some point. Much of modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar were gradually occupied by Great Britain – starting from 1757, reaching their zenith in 1857 and ruling till 1947. Nepal and Bhutan were to some extent a protectorate of Great Britain until after World War II. In the millennia long history of South Asia, this European occupation period is rather short, but its proximity to the present and its lasting impact on the region make it prominent.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation is an economic cooperation organization in the region. The South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), a contiguous block of countries, started in with seven countries — Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — when it was established in 1985, but was extended to include Afghanistan as an eight member in 2006. SAARC has been signed by the seven original members of the organization, though it has a special provision for the Maldives.
The network of means of transportation and communication as well as banking and training of requisite workforce, and also the existing rail, post, telegraph, and education facilities have evolved out of the base established in the colonial era, often called the British Raj. As an aftermath of World War II, most of the region gained independence from Europe by the late 1940s.
Since 1947, most South Asian countries have achieved tremendous progress in all spheres Most notable achievements are in the fields of education; industry; health care; information technology and services based on its applications; research in the fields of cutting edge sciences and technologies; defence related self-reliance projects; international/global trade and business enterprises and outsourcing of human resources. Areas of difficulty remain, however, including religious extremism, high levels of corruption, disagreements on political boundaries, and inequitable distribution of wealth.
This club of countries covers about 4,480,000 km² (1,729,738 mi²) or 10 percent of the Asian continent, and accounting for about 40 percent of Asia’s population.