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India covers 3,287,263 square kilometres. Great mountains separate most of northern India from the rest of Asia. The southern half is a triangular peninsula that extends into the Indian Ocean. The Arabian Sea lies to the west of India, and the Bay of Bengal to the east. The coastline is 6,843 kilometres, of which 1,312 kilometres belong to India's island territories. India has three main land regions: (1) the Himalaya; (2) the Northern Plains; and (3) the Deccan, or Southern Plateau.

The Himalaya, the highest mountain system in the world, rises partly in India and partly in China. It curves for about 2,410 kilometres from northernmost India to northeastern India. The Himalaya is as much as 320 kilometres wide in some places. It includes India's tallest mountain, Kanchenjunga which is 8,598 metres high. Many other Himalayan mountains are more than 6,100 metres high. Many kinds of wildlife, including tigers, monkeys, rhinoceroses, and several species of deer, live in the foothills.

The Northern Plains lie between the Himalaya and the southern peninsula. They stretch across northern India for about 2,410 kilometres, and have an average width of about 320 kilometres. The Northern Plains region includes the valleys of the Brahmaputra, Ganges, and Indus rivers and their branches. The Brahmaputra and the Ganges are India's longest and most important waterways. They rise in the Himalaya from the constant mountain snows. 

This region makes up the world's largest alluvial plain (land formed of soil left by rivers). The soil ranks among the most fertile in the world. The flatness of the plains makes them easy to irrigate. Most of the Indian people live in this region.

The Deccan, a huge plateau, forms most of the southern peninsula. It slants up toward the west, where it meets the Western Ghats, a rugged mountain range that is 1,500 metres high. This range falls sharply to a narrow coastal plain. In the east, the Eastern Ghats, another range, rises 610 metres at the edge of the Deccan. This range gradually slants down to a coastal plain much wider than the one in the west. The Western and Eastern Ghats meet at the southernmost point of the Deccan in the Nilgiri Hills. The Vindhya, which is 1,200 metres high, and other mountain ranges extend across India and separate the Deccan from the Northern Plains. 

The Deccan has farming and grazing land, most of India's ores, and forests. Rivers in the region include the Cauvery, the Godavari, and the Krishna. They flow eastward through the Deccan to the Bay of Bengal.