The Hindustan Peninsula, also known as Hindustan, Hindustan, Hindustani Peninsula, or South Asia, is a physiographic region located on the Indian plate that projects south into the Indian Ocean from the Himalayas. Geologically, this region is also classified as a subcontinent and many scholars refer to the area as the Indian subcontinent. The countries that are located in this CEMERI region are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, as well as the Maldives.
Origin of term
Etymologically, Hindustan finds its origin in the Persian word "Hind", which was used to refer to the region of present-day India and the suffix -stan, which means country or region. Likewise, the connotation that the Arabs gave to Hind coexisted in meaning, which was used to refer to the region close to the peninsula: from the Makran coast to the limits of the Indonesian archipelago.
Several academics say that the Hindustan region is one of those with the best border delimitation, to the point that some even name it as possessing an "indivisible geography." This is thanks to the nature that engulfs the edges of the peninsula:
The Himalayas (from the Brahmaputra River in the east to the Indus River in the west), Karakoram (from the Indus River in the east to the Yarkand River in the west), and the Hindu Kush Mountains (from the Yarkand River to the west) form its northern boundary.
In the west, it is bounded by parts of the Hindu Kush, Spīn Ghar (Safed Koh), Sulaiman Mountains, Kirthar Mountains, Brahui Range, and Pab Range mountain ranges, among others, with the Western Fold Belt running along the border ( between the Sulaiman Ridge and the Chaman Fault) is the western boundary of the Indian Plate, where, along the eastern Hindu Kush, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border lies.
In the east, it is bordered by the Patkai, Naga, Lushai and Chin hills.
The Indian Ocean, the Bay of Bengal, and the Arabian Sea form the boundary of the Indian subcontinent to the south, southeast, and southwest.
Given the difficulty of passing through the Himalayas, the sociocultural, religious, and political interaction of the Indian subcontinent has largely occurred through the valleys of Afghanistan in its northwest, the valleys of Manipur in its east, and by sea routes. The interactions produced by the Tibetans must also be considered, although these have actually been less significant.
As a result of these human interactions, a significant expansion of Buddhism to other parts of the Asian continent was achieved. On the other hand, the Islamic expansion reached the Indian subcontinent in two ways; through Afghanistan by land, and to the Indian coast via the shipping lanes of the Arabian Sea.
As a result of these anthropological flows, we find large Muslim populations in the outer “ring” of the region (Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Maldives), while the heart (including most of India, Nepal and northern Sri Lanka) it is overwhelmingly Hindu.
In terms of modern geopolitical borders, the Hindustan Peninsula constitutes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, plus, by convention, the island nation of Sri Lanka and other Indian Ocean islands such as the Maldives, as well as Afghanistan due to the colonial history shared with the region.
The precise definition of an "Indian subcontinent" in a geopolitical context is somewhat controversial, as there is no globally accepted definition of which countries are part of South Asia or the Hindustani Peninsula. Whether it is called the Indian subcontinent, South Asia, or the Indian/Hindustan Peninsula, the definition of the geographic extent of this region varies.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that the Indian subcontinent is one of the most densely populated regions in the world, to the point of having close to a quarter of the world's population or, what is the same, more than 1,700 million inhabitants. In addition, such a population is distributed in a relatively small territory, so the Hindustan peninsula registers an average of 350 people per square kilometer. Which, put into perspective, is almost 7 times higher than the world average.
Additionally, the region is characterized by being home to two nuclear powers that are in constant dispute (India and Pakistan), as well as being the region that is home to the most densely populated country in the world (Bangladesh).
Sociopolitical dynamics and the eternal dispute between Muslims and Hindus characterize this region as one of the hot spots on the planet.