The Third Crusade was an attempt by the leaders of the three most powerful states of Western Christianity to reconquer the Holy Land following the capture of Jerusalem by the Ayyubid sultan, Saladin, in 1187. It was successful, recapturing the important cities of Acre and Jaffa, reversing most of Saladin's conquests, but it failed to recapture Jerusalem, the major aim of the Crusade and its religious focus. After the failure of the Second Crusade of 1147-1149, the Zengid dynasty controlled a unified Syria and engaged in a conflict with the Fatimid rulers of Egypt. Saladin brought both the Egyptian and Syrian forces under his own control, employed them to reduce the Crusader states and to recapture Jerusalem in 1187. Spurred by religious zeal, King Henry II of England and King Philip II of France ended their conflict with each other to lead a new crusade; the death of Henry, meant the English contingent came under the command of his successor, King Richard I of England. The elderly German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa responded to the call to arms, leading a massive army across Anatolia, but he drowned in a river in Asia Minor on 10 June 1190 before reaching the Holy Land.
His death caused tremendous grief among the German Crusaders, most of his troops returned home. After the Crusaders had driven the Muslims from Acre, Philip - in company with Frederick's successor, Leopold V, Duke of Austria - left the Holy Land in August 1191. On 2 September 1192 Richard and Saladin finalized the Treaty of Jaffa, which granted Muslim control over Jerusalem but allowed unarmed Christian pilgrims and merchants to visit the city. Richard departed the Holy Land on 9 October 1192; the successes of the Third Crusade allowed Westerners to maintain considerable states in Cyprus and on the Syrian coast. The failure to re-capture Jerusalem inspired the subsequent Fourth Crusade of 1202–1204, but Europeans would only regain the city, albeit in the Sixth Crusade in 1229. After the failure of the Second Crusade, Nur ad-Din Zangi had control of Damascus and a unified Syria. Eager to expand his power, Nur ad-Din set his sights on the Fatimid dynasty of Egypt. In 1163, Nur ad-Din sent Shirkuh, on a military expedition to the Nile.
Accompanying the general was his young nephew, Saladin. With Shirkuh's troops camped outside of Cairo, Egypt's sultan Shawar called on King Amalric I of Jerusalem for assistance. In response, Amalric sent an army into Egypt and attacked Shirkuh's troops at Bilbeis in 1164. In an attempt to divert Crusader attention from Egypt, Nur ad-Din attacked Antioch, resulting in a massacre of Christian soldiers and the capture of several Crusader leaders, including Bohemond III, Prince of Antioch. Nur ad-Din sent the scalps of the Christian defenders to Egypt for Shirkuh to proudly display at Bilbeis for Amalric's soldiers to see; this action prompted both Shirkuh to lead their armies out of Egypt. In 1167, Nur ad-Din again sent Shirkuh to conquer the Fatimids in Egypt. Shawar again opted to call upon Amalric to defend his territory; the combined Egyptian-Christian forces pursued Shirkuh. Amalric breached his alliance with Shawar by turning his forces on Egypt and besieging the city of Bilbeis. Shawar pleaded with Nur ad-Din, to save him from Amalric's treachery.
Lacking the resources to maintain a prolonged siege of Cairo against the combined forces of Nur ad-Din and Shawar, Amalric retreated. This new alliance gave Nur ad-Din rule over all of Syria and Egypt. Shawar was executed for his alliances with the Christian forces, Shirkuh succeeded him as vizier of Egypt. In 1169, Shirkuh died unexpectedly after only weeks of rule. Shirkuh's successor was his nephew, Salah ad-Din Yusuf known as Saladin. Nur ad-Din died in 1174, leaving the new empire to As-Salih, it was decided that the only man competent enough to uphold the jihad against the Franks was Saladin, who became sultan of Egypt and Syria and the founder of the Ayyubid dynasty. Amalric died in 1174, leaving Jerusalem to his 13-year-old son, Baldwin IV. Although Baldwin suffered from leprosy, he was an effective and active military commander, defeating Saladin at the battle of Montgisard in 1177, with support from Raynald of Châtillon, released from prison in 1176. Raynald forged an agreement with Saladin to allow free trade between Muslim and Christian territories.
He raided caravans throughout the region and expanded his piracy to the Red Sea by sending galleys to raid ships, to assault the city of Mecca itself. These acts enraged the Muslim world, giving Raynald a reputation as the most hated man in the Middle East. Baldwin IV died in 1185, the kingdom was left to his nephew Baldwin V, whom he had crowned as co-king in 1183. Raymond III of Tripoli again served as regent; the following year, Baldwin V died before his ninth birthday, his mother Princess Sybilla, sister of Baldwin IV, crowned herself queen and her husband, Guy of Lusignan, king. Raynald again had its travelers thrown in prison. Saladin demanded that their cargo be released; the newly crowned King Guy appealed to Raynald to give in to Saladin's demands, but Raynald refused to follow the king's orders. Full article: Battle of Hattin. Raymond advised patience, but King Guy, acting on advice from Raynald, marched his army to the Horns of Hattin outside of Tiberias; the Frankish army and demoralized, was destroyed i
Richard Avedon was an American fashion and portrait photographer. An obituary published in The New York Times said that "his fashion and portrait photographs helped define America's image of style and culture for the last half-century". Avedon was born to a Jewish family, his father, Jacob Israel Avedon, was a Russian-born immigrant who advanced from menial work to starting his own successful retail dress business on Fifth Avenue, called Avedon's Fifth Avenue. His mother, from a family that owned a dress-manufacturing business, encouraged Richard's love of fashion and art. Avedon's interest in photography emerged when, at age 12, he joined a Young Men's Hebrew Association Camera Club, he would use his family's Kodak Box Brownie not only to feed his curiosity about the world, but to retreat from his personal life. His father was a critical and remote disciplinarian who insisted that physical strength and money prepared one for life; the photographer's first muse was Louise. During her teen years she struggled through psychiatric treatment becoming withdrawn from reality and diagnosed with schizophrenia.
These early influences of fashion and family would shape Avedon's life and career expressed in his desire to capture tragic beauty in photos. Avedon attended DeWitt Clinton High School in Bedford Park, where from 1937 until 1940 he worked on the school paper, The Magpie, with James Baldwin; as a teen he won a Scholastic Art and Writing Award. After graduating from DeWitt Clinton that year he enrolled at Columbia University to study philosophy and poetry but dropped out after one year, he started as a photographer for the Merchant Marines, taking ID shots of the crewmen with the Rolleiflex camera his father had given him. From 1944 to 1950 Avedon studied photography with Alexey Brodovitch at his Design Laboratory at The New School for Social Research. In 1944, Avedon began working as an advertising photographer for a department store, but was endorsed by Alexey Brodovitch, art director for the fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar. Lillian Bassman promoted Avedon's career at Harper's. In 1945 his photographs began appearing in Junior Bazaar and, a year in Harper's Bazaar.
In 1946, Avedon had set up his own studio and began providing images for magazines including Vogue and Life. He soon became the chief photographer for Harper's Bazaar. From 1950 he contributed photographs to Life and Graphis and in 1952 became Staff Editor and photographer for Theatre Arts Magazine. Avedon did not conform to the standard technique of taking studio fashion photographs, where models stood emotionless and indifferent to the camera. Instead, Avedon showed models full of emotion, laughing, many times, in action in outdoor settings, revolutionary at the time. However, towards the end of the 1950s he became dissatisfied with daylight photography and open air locations and so turned to studio photography, using strobe lighting; when Diana Vreeland left Harper's Bazaar for Vogue in 1962, Avedon joined her as a staff photographer. He proceeded to become the lead photographer at Vogue and photographed most of the covers from 1973 until Anna Wintour became editor in chief in late 1988. Notable among his fashion advertisement series are the recurring assignments for Gianni Versace, beginning with the spring/summer campaign 1980.
He photographed the Calvin Klein Jeans campaign featuring a fifteen-year-old Brooke Shields, as well as directing her in the accompanying television commercials. Avedon first worked with Shields in 1974 for a Colgate toothpaste ad, he shot her for 12 American Vogue covers and Revlon's Most Unforgettable Women campaign. In the February 9, 1981, issue of Newsweek, Avedon said, she focuses the inarticulate rage people feel about the decline in contemporary morality and destruction of innocence in the world." On working with Avedon, Shields told Interview magazine in May 1992 "When Dick walks into the room, a lot of people are intimidated. But when he works, he's so sensitive, and he doesn't like it. There is a mutual vulnerability, a moment of fusion when he clicks the shutter. You either get it or you don't". In addition to his continuing fashion work, by the 1960s Avedon was making studio portraits of civil rights workers and cultural dissidents of various stripes in an America fissured by discord and violence.
He branched out into photographing patients of mental hospitals, the Civil Rights Movement in 1963, protesters of the Vietnam War, the fall of the Berlin Wall. A personal book called “Nothing Personal,” with a text by his high school classmate James Baldwin appeared in 1964. During this period, Avedon created two well known sets of portraits of The Beatles; the first, taken in mid to late 1967, became one of the first major rock poster series, consisted of five psychedelic portraits of the group — four solarized individual color portraits and a black-and-white group portrait taken with a Rolleiflex camera and a normal Planar lens. The next year he photographed the much more restrained portraits that were included with The Beatles LP in 1968. Among the many other rock bands photographed by Avedon, in 1973 he shot Electric Light Orchestra with all the members exposing their bellybuttons for recording, On the Third Day. Avedon was always interested in how portraiture captures the soul of its subject.
As his reputation as a photographer became known, he photographed many noted people in his studio with a large-format 8×10 view camera. His subjects include Buster Keaton, Marian Anderson, Marilyn Monroe, Ezra
Louis VII of France
Louis VII, called the Younger or the Young, was King of the Franks from 1137 to 1180, the sixth from the House of Capet. He was the son and successor of King Louis VI, hence his nickname, married Duchess Eleanor of Aquitaine, one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe; the marriage temporarily extended the Capetian lands to the Pyrenees, but was annulled in 1152 after no male heir was produced. After the annulment of her marriage, Eleanor married Henry Plantagenet, Duke of Normandy and Count of Anjou, to whom she conveyed Aquitaine and produced five male heirs; when Henry became King of England in 1154, as Henry II, he ruled as king, duke or count over a large empire of kingdoms and counties that spanned from Scotland to the Pyrenees. Henry's efforts to preserve and expand on this patrimony for the Crown of England would mark the beginning of the long rivalry between France and England. Louis VII's reign saw the founding of the disastrous Second Crusade. Louis and his famous counselor, Abbot Suger, pushed for a greater centralization of the state and favoured the development of French Gothic architecture, notably the construction of Notre-Dame de Paris.
He died in 1180 and was succeeded by his son Philip II. Louis was born in the second son of Louis VI of France and Adelaide of Maurienne; the early education of Prince Louis anticipated an ecclesiastical career. As a result, he became well-learned and exceptionally devout, but his life course changed decisively after the accidental death of his older brother Philip in 1131, when he unexpectedly became the heir to the throne of France. In October 1131, his father had him crowned by Pope Innocent II in Reims Cathedral, he spent much of his youth in Saint-Denis, where he built a friendship with the Abbot Suger, an advisor to his father who served Louis well during his early years as king. Following the death of Duke William X of Aquitaine, Louis VI moved to have his son married to the newly ascended Duchess Eleanor, William X's successor, on 25 July 1137. In this way, Louis VI sought to add the large, sprawling territory of the duchy of Aquitaine to his family's holdings in France. On 1 August 1137, shortly after the marriage, Louis VI died, Louis VII became king.
The pairing of the monkish Louis and the high-spirited Eleanor was doomed to failure. There was a marked difference between the frosty, reserved culture of the northern court in the Íle de France, where Louis had been raised, the rich, free-wheeling court life of the Aquitaine with which Eleanor was familiar. Louis and Eleanor had two daughters and Alix. In the first part of his reign, Louis VII was zealous in his prerogatives, his accession was marked by no disturbances other than uprisings by the burgesses of Orléans and Poitiers, who wished to organise communes. He soon came into violent conflict with Pope Innocent II, when the archbishopric of Bourges became vacant; the king supported the chancellor Cadurc as a candidate to fill the vacancy against the pope's nominee Pierre de la Chatre, swearing upon relics that so long as he lived, Pierre should never enter Bourges. The pope thus imposed an interdict upon the king. Louis VII became involved in a war with Theobald II of Champagne by permitting Raoul I of Vermandois, the seneschal of France, to repudiate his wife, Theobald II's niece, to marry Petronilla of Aquitaine, sister of the queen of France.
As a result, Champagne decided to side with the pope in the dispute over Bourges. The war ended with the occupation of Champagne by the royal army. Louis VII was involved in the assault and burning of the town of Vitry-le-François. At least 1500 people who had sought refuge in the church died in the flames. Overcome with guilt and humiliated by ecclesiastical reproach, Louis admitted defeat, removed his armies from Champagne and returned them to Theobald, he shunned Raoul and Petronilla. Desiring to atone for his sins, he declared his intention of mounting a crusade on Christmas Day 1145 at Bourges. Bernard of Clairvaux assured its popularity by his preaching at Vezelay on Easter 1146. In the meantime, Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, completed his conquest of Normandy in 1144. In exchange for being recognised as Duke of Normandy by Louis, Geoffrey surrendered half of the county of Vexin — a region vital to Norman security — to Louis. Considered a clever move by Louis at the time, it would prove yet another step towards Angevin rule.
In June 1147, in fulfillment of his vow to mount the Second Crusade, Louis VII and his queen set out from the Basilica of St Denis, first stopping in Metz on the overland route to Syria. Soon they arrived in the Kingdom of Hungary, where they were welcomed by the king Géza II of Hungary, waiting with King Conrad III of Germany. Due to his good relationships with Louis VII, Géza II asked the French king to be his son Stephen's baptism godfather. Relations between the kingdoms of France and Hungary continued to remain cordial long after this time: decades Louis's daughter Margaret was taken as wife by Géza's son Béla III of Hungary. After receiving provisions from Géza, the armies continued the march to the East. Just beyond Laodicea, the French army was ambushed by Turks; the French were bombarded by arrows and heavy stones, the Turks swarmed down from the mountains. A massacre began; the historian Odo of Deuil reported: During the fighting the King Louis lost his small and famous royal guard, but he remained in good heart and nimbly and courageously scaled the si
Harry Winston was an American jeweler. He donated the Hope Diamond to the Smithsonian Institution in 1958 after owning it for a decade, he traded the Portuguese Diamond to the Smithsonian in 1963. Winston founded the Harry Winston Inc. in New York City in 1932. He had been called by many as the "King of Diamonds". Winston's father Jacob started a small jewelry business after he and his mother immigrated to the United States from Ukraine. While growing up, he worked in his father's shop; when he was twelve years old, he recognized a two-carat emerald in a pawn shop, bought it for 25 cents, sold it two days for $800. Winston started his business in 1920 and opened his first store in New York City in 1932. Winston's jewelry empire began in 1926, with his acquisition of Arabella Huntington's jewelry collection, for $1.2 million. The wife of railroad magnate Henry E. Huntington, Arabella amassed one of the world's most prestigious collections of jewelry from Parisian jewelers such as Cartier; when Winston bought the collection after her death, the designs of the jewelry in the collection were quite old fashioned.
Winston redesigned the jewelry into more contemporary styles and showcased his unique skill at jewelry crafting. According to the Huntington museum, "He boasted that Arabella's famous necklace of pearls now adorned the necks of at least two dozen women around the world."When he died, Winston left the company to his two sons and Bruce, who entered into a decade-long battle over the control of the company. In 2000, Ronald along with new business partner, Fenway Partners, bought Bruce out from the company for $54.1 million. Winston was among the most noted jewelers in the world, well-known to the general public. In the 1953 musical film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, the song "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" includes the spoken interjection "Talk to me, Harry Winston, tell me all about it!" The Lauren Weisberger comic novel, Chasing Harry Winston, was published in May 2008. In 2015, Harry Winston, Inc. operated 39 salons and numerous retail affiliates in locations such as New York, Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Honolulu, Bal Harbour, Costa Mesa, other countries around the world.
Reference: The Arcots, first 33.70 and 23.65 carats, recut by Winston to 31.01 and 18.85 carats, respectively. The stones were thought to be a match, but when Winston bought them, removed them from their settings and discovered they were not, he decided to recut them to improve their clarity and brilliance. Both were either colorless or near-colorless, antique pear-shaped brilliants; the Anastasia, three emerald cuts weighing 42.95, 30.90 and 22.88 carats, all D color and Flawless clarity. Cut from a rough crystal weighing 307.30 carats Winston had purchased in 1972, largest gem named after Anastasia Nikolaevna, daughter of Czar Nicholas II. The Ashoka a 42.47 carats, modified elongated cushion brilliant. Purchased by Winston from a Chinese dealer in 1947. Stone was recut in 1977 from its original weight of 42.47 carats before it was sold again as a ring. The Blue Heart, a 30.82 carats, heart-shaped brilliant. After the cut was made, Cartier sold it to the Unzue family of Argentina in 1910, it reappeared in Paris in 1953 where it was purchased by an important European titled family purchased by Harry Winston in 1959.
Winston mounted it in a ring and sold it to Marjorie Merriweather Post, who donated it to the Smithsonian Institution. The Briolette of India, a 90.38 carats, briolette cut. The Cornflower Blue, 31.93 carats pear brilliant. The larger stone was sold in 1969 as the pendant for a diamond necklace. Winston repurchased it two years then sold it to a Middle Eastern client; the round brilliant was set as a ring and sold in 1969. In 1987 the pear brilliant was auctioned in Switzerland; the Countess Széchényi, a 62.05 carats, D color, pear-shaped brilliant. Purchased by Winston in 1959 from namesake and recut to a flawless 59.38 carats. Sold to an American industrialist in 1966; the Crown of Charlemagne, a 37.05 carats, sky blue, Old European cut brilliant. The Deal Sweetener, a 45.31 carats diamond plus four smaller stones, D color and Flawless, emerald cut. In 1974 Winston bought a large parcel of diamonds worth $24,500,000—at that time the largest individual sale of diamonds in history. Harry Oppenheimer, head of De Beers Consolidated Mines Ltd. arranged the transaction.
When Winston asked Oppenheimer, "How about a little something to sweeten the deal?" Harry Oppenheimer pulled a 181 carats rough diamond out of his pocket and rolled it across the table. Winston picked up the stone and said "Thanks." It was cut into the largest being named the Deal Sweetener. Other gems cut from the crystal: An emerald cut of 24.67 carats, plus three pear shapes of 10.80, 4.19 and 1.45 carats, respectively. All were sold that same year; the Deepdene, a 104.52 carats, antique cushion brilliant. Purchased by Winston in 1954 from Cary W. Bok sold the following year to Mrs. Eleanor Loder of Canada. Resurfaced in 1971 and put up for auction at Christie's in
Eleanor of Aquitaine
Eleanor of Aquitaine was queen consort of France and England and duchess of Aquitaine in her own right. As a member of the Ramnulfids rulers in southwestern France, she was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women in western Europe during the High Middle Ages, she was patron of literary figures such as Wace, Benoît de Sainte-Maure, Bernart de Ventadorn. She was a leader of the Second Crusade; as duchess of Aquitaine, Eleanor was the most eligible bride in Europe. Three months after becoming duchess upon the death of her father, William X, she married King Louis VII of France, son of her guardian, King Louis VI; as queen of France, she participated in the unsuccessful Second Crusade. Soon afterwards, Eleanor sought an annulment of her marriage, but her request was rejected by Pope Eugene III. However, after the birth of her second daughter Alix, Louis agreed to an annulment, as 15 years of marriage had not produced a son; the marriage was annulled on 21 March 1152 on the grounds of consanguinity within the fourth degree.
Their daughters were declared legitimate, custody was awarded to Louis, Eleanor's lands were restored to her. As soon as the annulment was granted, Eleanor became engaged to the duke of Normandy, who became King Henry II of England in 1154. Henry was 11 years younger; the couple married on Whitsun, 18 May 1152, eight weeks after the annulment of Eleanor's first marriage, in Poitiers Cathedral. Over the next 13 years, she bore eight children: five sons; however and Eleanor became estranged. Henry imprisoned her in 1173 for supporting their son Henry's revolt against him, she was not released until 6 July 1189, when Henry died and their second son, Richard the Lionheart, ascended the throne. As queen dowager, Eleanor acted as regent. Eleanor lived well into the reign of John. Eleanor's year of birth is not known precisely: a late 13th-century genealogy of her family listing her as 13 years old in the spring of 1137 provides the best evidence that Eleanor was born as late as 1124. On the other hand, some chronicles mention a fidelity oath of some lords of Aquitaine on the occasion of Eleanor's fourteenth birthday in 1136.
This, her known age of 82 at her death make 1122 more the year of birth. Her parents certainly married in 1121, her birthplace may have been Poitiers, Bordeaux, or Nieul-sur-l'Autise, where her mother and brother died when Eleanor was 6 or 8. Eleanor was the oldest of three children of William X, Duke of Aquitaine, whose glittering ducal court was renowned in early 12th-century Europe, his wife, Aenor de Châtellerault, the daughter of Aimery I, Viscount of Châtellerault, Dangereuse de l'Isle Bouchard, William IX's longtime mistress as well as Eleanor's maternal grandmother, her parents' marriage had been arranged by Dangereuse with her paternal grandfather William IX. Eleanor is said to have been named for her mother Aenor and called Aliénor from the Latin alia Aenor, which means the other Aenor, it became Eléanor in the langues d'oïl of northern Eleanor in English. There was, another prominent Eleanor before her—Eleanor of Normandy, an aunt of William the Conqueror, who lived a century earlier than Eleanor of Aquitaine.
In Paris as the queen of France she was called Helienordis, her honorific name as written in the Latin epistles. By all accounts, Eleanor's father ensured. Eleanor came to learn arithmetic, the constellations, history, she learned domestic skills such as household management and the needle arts of embroidery, sewing and weaving. Eleanor developed skills in conversation, games such as backgammon and chess, playing the harp, singing. Although her native tongue was Poitevin, she was taught to read and speak Latin, was well versed in music and literature, schooled in riding and hunting. Eleanor was extroverted, lively and strong-willed, her four-year-old brother William Aigret and their mother died at the castle of Talmont on Aquitaine's Atlantic coast in the spring of 1130. Eleanor became the heir presumptive to her father's domains; the Duchy of Aquitaine was the richest province of France. Poitou, where Eleanor spent most of her childhood, Aquitaine together were one-third the size of modern France.
Eleanor had only one other legitimate sibling, a younger sister named Aelith called Petronilla. Her half-brother Joscelin was acknowledged by William X as a son, but not as his heir; the notion that she had another half-brother, has been discredited. During the first four years of Henry II's reign, her siblings joined Eleanor's royal household. In 1137 Duke William X took his daughters with him. Upon reaching Bordeaux, he left them in the charge of the archbishop of Bordeaux, one of his few loyal vassals; the duke set out for the Shrine of Saint James of Compostela in the company of other pilgrims. However, he died on Good Friday of that year. Eleanor, aged 12 to 15 became the duchess of Aquitaine, thus the most eligible heiress in Europe; as these were the days when kidnapping an heiress was seen as a viable option for obtaining a title, William dictated a will on the day he died that bequeathed his domains to Eleanor and appointed King Louis VI of France as her guardian. William requested of the king that he take care of both the lands and the duchess, an
India known as the Republic of India, is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh largest country by area and with more than 1.3 billion people, it is the second most populous country as well as the most populous democracy in the world. Bounded by the Indian Ocean on the south, the Arabian Sea on the southwest, the Bay of Bengal on the southeast, it shares land borders with Pakistan to the west. In the Indian Ocean, India is in the vicinity of Sri Lanka and the Maldives, while its Andaman and Nicobar Islands share a maritime border with Thailand and Indonesia; the Indian subcontinent was home to the urban Indus Valley Civilisation of the 3rd millennium BCE. In the following millennium, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism began to be composed. Social stratification, based on caste, emerged in the first millennium BCE, Buddhism and Jainism arose. Early political consolidations took place under the Gupta empires. In the medieval era, Zoroastrianism and Islam arrived, Sikhism emerged, all adding to the region's diverse culture.
Much of the north fell to the Delhi Sultanate. The economy expanded in the 17th century in the Mughal Empire. In the mid-18th century, the subcontinent came under British East India Company rule, in the mid-19th under British Crown rule. A nationalist movement emerged in the late 19th century, which under Mahatma Gandhi, was noted for nonviolent resistance and led to India's independence in 1947. In 2017, the Indian economy was the world's sixth largest by nominal GDP and third largest by purchasing power parity. Following market-based economic reforms in 1991, India became one of the fastest-growing major economies and is considered a newly industrialised country. However, it continues to face the challenges of poverty, corruption and inadequate public healthcare. A nuclear weapons state and regional power, it has the second largest standing army in the world and ranks fifth in military expenditure among nations. India is a federal republic governed under a parliamentary system and consists of 29 states and 7 union territories.
A pluralistic and multi-ethnic society, it is home to a diversity of wildlife in a variety of protected habitats. The name India is derived from Indus, which originates from the Old Persian word Hindush, equivalent to the Sanskrit word Sindhu, the historical local appellation for the Indus River; the ancient Greeks referred to the Indians as Indoi, which translates as "The people of the Indus". The geographical term Bharat, recognised by the Constitution of India as an official name for the country, is used by many Indian languages in its variations, it is a modernisation of the historical name Bharatavarsha, which traditionally referred to the Indian subcontinent and gained increasing currency from the mid-19th century as a native name for India. Hindustan is a Middle Persian name for India, it was introduced into India by the Mughals and used since then. Its meaning varied, referring to a region that encompassed northern India and Pakistan or India in its entirety; the name may refer to either the northern part of India or the entire country.
The earliest known human remains in South Asia date to about 30,000 years ago. Nearly contemporaneous human rock art sites have been found in many parts of the Indian subcontinent, including at the Bhimbetka rock shelters in Madhya Pradesh. After 6500 BCE, evidence for domestication of food crops and animals, construction of permanent structures, storage of agricultural surplus, appeared in Mehrgarh and other sites in what is now Balochistan; these developed into the Indus Valley Civilisation, the first urban culture in South Asia, which flourished during 2500–1900 BCE in what is now Pakistan and western India. Centred around cities such as Mohenjo-daro, Harappa and Kalibangan, relying on varied forms of subsistence, the civilization engaged robustly in crafts production and wide-ranging trade. During the period 2000–500 BCE, many regions of the subcontinent transitioned from the Chalcolithic cultures to the Iron Age ones; the Vedas, the oldest scriptures associated with Hinduism, were composed during this period, historians have analysed these to posit a Vedic culture in the Punjab region and the upper Gangetic Plain.
Most historians consider this period to have encompassed several waves of Indo-Aryan migration into the subcontinent from the north-west. The caste system, which created a hierarchy of priests and free peasants, but which excluded indigenous peoples by labeling their occupations impure, arose during this period. On the Deccan Plateau, archaeological evidence from this period suggests the existence of a chiefdom stage of political organisation. In South India, a progression to sedentary life is indicated by the large number of megalithic monuments dating from this period, as well as by nearby traces of agriculture, irrigation tanks, craft traditions. In the late Vedic period, around the 6th century BCE, the small states and chiefdoms of the Ganges Plain and the north-western regions had consolidated into 16 major oligarchies and monarchies that were known as the mahajanapadas; the emerging urbanisation gave rise to non-Vedic religious movements, two of which became independent religions. Jainism came into prominence during the life of Mahavira.
Buddhism, based on the teachings of Gautama Buddha, attracted followers from all social classes excepting the middle