A subcontinent is a part of a continent that has distinct geographical, political and cultural identity. India is considered as a subcontinent because:
- Geography: India is seventh largest country in the world. Indian landmass is bounded by Himalayas in the north and Indian ocean in the south that gives it a distinct identity. A long coast line, a large desert (Thar), highest mountains ranges and large plains (India-Ganga-Brahmaputra plains) gives a physiological diversity that can be observed only on continental scale. As per plate tectonics, India is a separate plate which collided with Eurasian plate leading to formation of Himalayas.
- Population: Indian has second largest population in the world (much higher than any other continent, except for Asia and Africa)
- Unity in diversity: India has multiple races, religions, castes etc. speaking different languages, practicing different customs but a certain element of unity is visible in all.
- Political identity: India is the largest democracy with independent institutions. Commitment to socialism and secularism makes it different from any other country in its vicinity.
- Diversity in flora and fauna: India has wide range vegetation ranging from evergreen forests to deciduous forest to alpine meadows. Many of the animal species found in India are endemic and not found in any other part of the world.
Historically, even ancient people considered India a separate unit identifying entire land mass lying south of Indus (Sindhu) as India or Jambudweep. So, we can say that Identity of India as a subcontinent is well accepted even from ancient times.