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The rise in Hindu nationalism has heightened tensions with Pakistan, which already were exacerbated by the Kashmir dispute and nuclear testing. When Islamic extremists hijacked an Indian jet to Afghanistan in 1999, the Taliban helped release most hostages in exchange for allowing the hijackers to escape and freeing radical Pakistani cleric Masood Azhar from an Indian jail. Pakistan has also been allied with China, which fought a border war with India in 1962.

Area: 1.2 million square miles, more than one-third the size of the U.S.

Population: 1 billion. Although India occupies only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area, it supports more than 15 percent of the world’s population.

Religion: While 83 percent of Indians are Hindu, it has one of the world’s largest Muslim populations, more than 120 million.


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