Indian culture and influence have historically extended beyond its present-day borders. Both to the east and to the west, Indian influences are easily discernible. For example, ancient Indian traders spread their culture all the way to modern Indonesia.
The earliest known Indian civilization was in western India and much of present-day Pakistan. The Indus valley civilization flourished from about 2600 BC to 1900 BC. Its size was larger than ancient Egypt or Mesopotamia. This early Indian civilization—and later ones as well—was dependent on rivers that flooded agricultural lands.
Invaders have used the Khyber Pass to enter India from the northwest for centuries. Alexander the Great's generals used it. Much later, it was coveted by the British who occupied India.
India's modern history was dominated by Western influences. At first, this activity was focused on India's coastal areas. The Portuguese reached India by sea by 1500. The British later followed and established a huge colony. India has changed the names of many of its cities in order to re-assert its own identity.
India's current economic growth is reliant on oil supplies. The country lacks petroleum of its own, and it will soon become the world's leading consumer of oil. Its use causes environmental problems in India, which has many of the world's most polluted cities. This dependence on foreign oil also makes India reliant on Saudi Arabia and other oil producers.
Modern India's chief security threat stems from its long border with Muslim Pakistan. This long and expensive conflict stunts India's economic growth. Both countries possess nuclear weapons, so maintaining peace is paramount.