India’s landmass covers an area of 3.3 million square kilometers and is strategically located vis-a-vis both continental Asia and the Indian Ocean Region. Land borders extending more than 15,500 kilometers and a coastline totalling over 7500 kilometers make India a continental or maritime neighbour of 11 countries in Asia.
- India is not only centrally located in South Asia, but also abuts West Asia and South East Asia.
- The island territories of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, located 1300 kilometers away from the mainland in the Bay of Bengal, provide India with a strategic presence at the entrance to the Strait of Malacca, through which more than 60,000 shipping vessels transit each year.
- The Lakshadweep and Minicoy Islands, located about 450 kilometers away from the mainland in the Arabian Sea, sit astride the sea lanes of communication running eastward from the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.
- The island territories along with a long coastline extend India’s territorial waters to more than 160,000 square kilometers and the Exclusive Economic Zone to more than 2 million square kilometers. India is thus a maritime as well as a continental entity.
- The Strategic Partnership Agreement between India and Afghanistan signals the commitment of both countries to build on the bilateral relationship in all spheres, including defence and security cooperation.
- India and China have recently signed a Border Defence Cooperation Agreement which seeks to strengthen measures for maintenance of peace and stability on the border.
- The Indian Ocean, spread over an area of 56 million square kilometres, is central to India’s maritime interests and concerns. It accounts for transporation of the largest tonnage of goods in the world, with almost 100,000 ships transiting its expanse annually.
- 2/3rd of the world’s oil shipments, 1/3rd of bulk cargo traffic and half the world’s container shipments are transported in sea lanes of the Indian Ocean.
- India sits astride major commercial routes and energy lifelines in the Indian Ocean, namely, the Malacca Straits, 6 and 10 Degree channel and the Arabian Gulf.
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