China the People's Republic of China, is a country in East Asia and the world's most populous country, with a population of around 1.404 billion. Covering 9,600,000 square kilometers, it is the third- or fourth-largest country by total area. Governed by the Communist Party of China, the state exercises jurisdiction over 22 provinces, five autonomous regions, four direct-controlled municipalities, the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau. China emerged as one of the world's earliest civilizations, in the fertile basin of the Yellow River in the North China Plain. For millennia, China's political system was based on hereditary monarchies, or dynasties, beginning with the semi-legendary Xia dynasty in 21st century BCE. Since China has expanded, re-unified numerous times. In the 3rd century BCE, the Qin established the first Chinese empire; the succeeding Han dynasty, which ruled from 206 BC until 220 AD, saw some of the most advanced technology at that time, including papermaking and the compass, along with agricultural and medical improvements.
The invention of gunpowder and movable type in the Tang dynasty and Northern Song completed the Four Great Inventions. Tang culture spread in Asia, as the new Silk Route brought traders to as far as Mesopotamia and Horn of Africa. Dynastic rule ended in 1912 with the Xinhai Revolution; the Chinese Civil War resulted in a division of territory in 1949, when the Communist Party of China established the People's Republic of China, a unitary one-party sovereign state on Mainland China, while the Kuomintang-led government retreated to the island of Taiwan. The political status of Taiwan remains disputed. Since the introduction of economic reforms in 1978, China's economy has been one of the world's fastest-growing with annual growth rates above 6 percent. According to the World Bank, China's GDP grew from $150 billion in 1978 to $12.24 trillion by 2017. Since 2010, China has been the world's second-largest economy by nominal GDP and since 2014, the largest economy in the world by purchasing power parity.
China is the world's largest exporter and second-largest importer of goods. China is a recognized nuclear weapons state and has the world's largest standing army and second-largest defense budget; the PRC is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as it replaced the ROC in 1971, as well as an active global partner of ASEAN Plus mechanism. China is a leading member of numerous formal and informal multilateral organizations, including the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, WTO, APEC, BRICS, the BCIM, the G20. In recent times, scholars have argued that it will soon be a world superpower, rivaling the United States; the word "China" has been used in English since the 16th century. It is not a word used by the Chinese themselves, it has been traced through Portuguese and Persian back to the Sanskrit word Cīna, used in ancient India."China" appears in Richard Eden's 1555 translation of the 1516 journal of the Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa. Barbosa's usage was derived from Persian Chīn, in turn derived from Sanskrit Cīna.
Cīna was first used including the Mahābhārata and the Laws of Manu. In 1655, Martino Martini suggested that the word China is derived from the name of the Qin dynasty. Although this derivation is still given in various sources, it is complicated by the fact that the Sanskrit word appears in pre-Qin literature; the word may have referred to a state such as Yelang. The meaning transferred to China as a whole; the origin of the Sanskrit word is still a matter of debate, according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The official name of the modern state is the "People's Republic of China"; the shorter form is "China" Zhōngguó, from zhōng and guó, a term which developed under the Western Zhou dynasty in reference to its royal demesne. It was applied to the area around Luoyi during the Eastern Zhou and to China's Central Plain before being used as an occasional synonym for the state under the Qing, it was used as a cultural concept to distinguish the Huaxia people from perceived "barbarians". The name Zhongguo is translated as "Middle Kingdom" in English.
Archaeological evidence suggests that early hominids inhabited China between 2.24 million and 250,000 years ago. The hominid fossils of Peking Man, a Homo erectus who used fire, were discovered in a cave at Zhoukoudian near Beijing; the fossilized teeth of Homo sapiens have been discovered in Fuyan Cave in Hunan. Chinese proto-writing existed in Jiahu around 7000 BCE, Damaidi around 6000 BCE, Dadiwan from 5800–5400 BCE, Banpo dating from the 5th millennium BCE; some scholars have suggested. According to Chinese tradition, the first dynasty was the Xia, which emerged around 2100 BCE; the dynasty was considered mythical by historians until scientific excavations found early Bronze Age sites at Erlitou, Henan in 1959. It remains unclear whether these sites are the remains of the Xia dynasty or of another culture from the same period; the succeeding Shang dynasty is the earliest to be confirmed by contemporary records. The Shang ruled the plain of the Yellow River in eastern China from the 17th to the 11th century BCE.
Their oracle bone script
Myanmar the Republic of the Union of Myanmar and known as Burma, is a country in Southeast Asia. Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west and Laos to its east and China to its north and northeast. To its south, about one third of Myanmar's total perimeter of 5,876 km forms an uninterrupted coastline of 1,930 km along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea; the country's 2014 census counted the population to be 51 million people. As of 2017, the population is about 54 million. Myanmar is 676,578 square kilometres in size, its capital city is Naypyidaw, its largest city and former capital is Yangon. Myanmar has been a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations since 1997. Early civilisations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma. In the 9th century, the Bamar people entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language and Theravada Buddhism became dominant in the country.
The Pagan Kingdom fell. In the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Mainland Southeast Asia; the early 19th century Konbaung dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Myanmar and controlled Manipur and Assam as well. The British took over the administration of Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony. Myanmar was granted independence as a democratic nation. Following a coup d'état in 1962, it became a military dictatorship under the Burma Socialist Programme Party. For most of its independent years, the country has been engrossed in rampant ethnic strife and its myriad ethnic groups have been involved in one of the world's longest-running ongoing civil wars. During this time, the United Nations and several other organisations have reported consistent and systematic human rights violations in the country. In 2011, the military junta was dissolved following a 2010 general election, a nominally civilian government was installed.
This, along with the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and political prisoners, has improved the country's human rights record and foreign relations, has led to the easing of trade and other economic sanctions. There is, continuing criticism of the government's treatment of ethnic minorities, its response to the ethnic insurgency, religious clashes. In the landmark 2015 election, Aung San Suu Kyi's party won a majority in both houses. However, the Burmese military remains a powerful force in politics. Myanmar is a country rich in jade and gems, natural gas and other mineral resources. In 2013, its GDP stood at its GDP at US$221.5 billion. The income gap in Myanmar is among the widest in the world, as a large proportion of the economy is controlled by supporters of the former military government; as of 2016, Myanmar ranks 145 out of 188 countries in human development, according to the Human Development Index. Both the names Myanmar and Burma derive from the earlier Burmese Mranma, an ethnonym for the majority Bamar ethnic group, of uncertain etymology.
The terms are popularly thought to derive from "Brahma Desha" after Brahma. In 1989, the military government changed the English translations of many names dating back to Burma's colonial period or earlier, including that of the country itself: "Burma" became "Myanmar"; the renaming remains a contested issue. Many political and ethnic opposition groups and countries continue to use "Burma" because they do not recognise the legitimacy of the ruling military government or its authority to rename the country. In April 2016, soon after taking office, Aung San Suu Kyi clarified that foreigners are free to use either name, "because there is nothing in the constitution of our country that says that you must use any term in particular"; the country's official full name is the "Republic of the Union of Myanmar". Countries that do not recognise that name use the long form "Union of Burma" instead. In English, the country is popularly known as either "Burma" or "Myanmar". Both these names are derived from the name of the majority Burmese Bamar ethnic group.
Myanmar is considered to be the literary form of the name of the group, while Burma is derived from "Bamar", the colloquial form of the group's name. Depending on the register used, the pronunciation would be Myamah; the name Burma has been in use in English since the 18th century. Burma continues to be used in English by the governments of countries such as the United Kingdom. Official United States policy retains Burma as the country's name, although the State Department's website lists the country as "Burma" and Barack Obama has referred to the country by both names; the government of Canada has in the past used Burma, such as in its 2007 legislation imposing sanctions, but as of the mid-2010s uses Myanmar. The Czech Republic uses Myanmar, although its Ministry of Foreign Affairs mentions both Myanmar and Burma on its website; the United Nations uses Myanmar, as do the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Russia, China, Bangladesh, Norway and Switzerland. Most English-speaking international news media refer to the country by the name Myanmar, including the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation /Ra
Singapore the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state in Southeast Asia. It lies one degree north of the equator, at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, with Indonesia's Riau Islands to the south and Peninsular Malaysia to the north. Singapore's territory consists of one main island along with 62 other islets. Since independence, extensive land reclamation has increased its total size by 23%; the country is known for its transition from a developing to a developed one in a single generation under the leadership of its founder Lee Kuan Yew. In 1819, Sir Stamford Raffles founded colonial Singapore as a trading post of the British East India Company. After the company's collapse in 1858, the islands were ceded to the British Raj as a crown colony. During the Second World War, Singapore was occupied by Japan, it gained independence from the British Empire in 1963 by joining Malaysia along with other former British territories, but separated two years over ideological differences, becoming a sovereign nation in 1965.
After early years of turbulence and despite lacking natural resources and a hinterland, the nation developed as an Asian Tiger economy, based on external trade and its workforce. Singapore is a global hub for education, finance, human capital, logistics, technology, tourism and transport; the city ranks in numerous international rankings, has been recognised as the most "technology-ready" nation, top International-meetings city, city with "best investment potential", world's smartest city, world's safest country, second-most competitive country, third least-corrupt country, third-largest foreign exchange market, third-largest financial centre, third-largest oil refining and trading centre, fifth-most innovative country, the second-busiest container port. The Economist has ranked Singapore as the most expensive city to live in, since 2013, it is identified as a tax haven. Singapore is the only country in Asia with an AAA sovereign rating from all major rating agencies, one of 11 worldwide. Globally, the Port of Singapore and Changi Airport have held the titles of leading "Maritime Capital" and "Best Airport" for consecutive years, while Singapore Airlines is the 2018 "World's Best Airline".
Singapore ranks 9th on the UN Human Development Index with the 3rd highest GDP per capita. It is placed in key social indicators: education, life expectancy, quality of life, personal safety and housing. Although income inequality is high, 90% of homes are owner-occupied. According to the Democracy Index, the country is described as a "flawed democracy"; the city-state is home to 5.6 million residents, 39% of whom are foreign nationals, including permanent residents. There are four official languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, Tamil, its cultural diversity is reflected in major festivals. Pew Research has found. Multiracialism has been enshrined in its constitution since independence, continues to shape national policies in education, politics, among others. Singapore is a unitary parliamentary republic with a Westminster system of unicameral parliamentary government; the People's Action Party has won every election since self-government began in 1959. As one of the five founding members of ASEAN, Singapore is the host of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat and Pacific Economic Cooperation Council Secretariat, as well as many international conferences and events.
It is a member of the East Asia Summit, Non-Aligned Movement and the Commonwealth of Nations. The English name of Singapore is an anglicisation of the native Malay name for the country, in turn derived from Sanskrit, hence the customary reference to the nation as the Lion City, its inclusion in many of the nation's symbols. However, it is unlikely that lions lived on the island. There are however other suggestions for the origin of the name and scholars do not believe that the origin of the name is established; the central island has been called Pulau Ujong as far back as the third century CE "island at the end" in Malay. Singapore is referred to as the Garden City for its tree-lined streets and greening efforts since independence, the Little Red Dot for how the island-nation is depicted on many maps of the world and Asia, as a red dot. Singapore is referred to as the "Switzerland of Asia" in 2017 due to its neutrality on international and regional issues; the Greco-Roman astronomer Ptolemy identified a place called Sabana in the general area in the second century, the earliest written record of Singapore occurs in a Chinese account from the third century, describing the island of Pu Luo Chung.
This was itself a transliteration from the Malay name "Pulau Ujong", or "island at the end". The Nagarakretagama, a Javanese epic poem written in 1365, referred to a settlement on the island called Tumasik. In 1299, according to the Malay Annals, the Kingdom of Singapura was founded on the island by Sang Nila Utama. Although the historicity
Kuala Lumpur the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, or known as KL, is the national capital and largest city in Malaysia. As the global city of Malaysia, it covers an area of 243 km2 and has an estimated population of 1.73 million as of 2016. Greater Kuala Lumpur known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.25 million people as of 2017. It is among the fastest growing metropolitan regions in Southeast Asia, in both population and economic development. Kuala Lumpur is the cultural and economic centre of Malaysia, it is home to the Parliament of Malaysia, the official residence of the Malaysian King, the Istana Negara. The city once held the headquarters of the executive and judicial branches of the federal government, but these were relocated to Putrajaya in early 1999. However, some sections of the political bodies still remain in Kuala Lumpur. Kuala Lumpur is one of the three Federal Territories of Malaysia, enclaved within the state of Selangor, on the central west coast of Peninsular Malaysia.
Since the 1990s, the city has played host to many international sporting and cultural events including the 1998 Commonwealth Games and the 2017 Southeast Asian Games. Kuala Lumpur has undergone rapid development in recent decades, is home to the tallest twin buildings in the world, the Petronas Towers, which have since become an iconic symbol of Malaysian development. Kuala Lumpur has a comprehensive road system supported by an extensive range of public transport networks, such as the Mass Rapid Transit, Light Metro, Bus Rapid Transit, commuter rail, an airport rail link. Kuala Lumpur is one of the leading cities in the world for tourism and shopping, being the tenth most-visited city in the world in 2017; the city houses three of the world's ten largest shopping malls. Kuala Lumpur has been ranked by the Economist Intelligence Unit's Global Liveability Ranking at No. 70 in the world, No. 2 in Southeast Asia after Singapore. EIU's Safe Cities Index of 2017 rated Kuala Lumpur 31st out of 60 on its world's safest cities list, safer than Beijing or Shanghai.
Kuala Lumpur was named as one of the New7Wonders Cities, has been named as World Book Capital 2020 by UNESCO. Kuala Lumpur means "muddy confluence" in Malay. One suggestion is. Doubts however have been raised on such a derivation as Kuala Lumpur lies at the confluence of Gombak River and Klang River, therefore should rightly be named Kuala Gombak as the point where one river joins a larger one or the sea is its kuala, it has been argued by some that Sungai Lumpur is in fact Gombak River, although Sungai Lumpur is said to be another river joining the Klang River a mile upstream from the Gombak confluence, or located to the north of the Batu Caves area. It has been proposed that Kuala Lumpur was named Pengkalan Lumpur in the same way that Klang was once called Pengkalan Batu, but became corrupted into Kuala Lumpur. Another suggestion is that it was a Cantonese word lam-pa meaning'flooded jungle' or'decayed jungle'. There is no firm contemporary evidence for these suggestions other than anecdotes.
It is possible that the name is a corrupted form of an earlier but now unidentifiable forgotten name. It is unknown who named the settlement called Kuala Lumpur. Chinese miners were involved in tin mining up the Selangor River in the 1840s about ten miles north of present-day Kuala Lumpur, Mandailing Sumatrans led by Raja Asal and Sutan Puasa were involved in tin mining and trade in the Ulu Klang region before 1860, Sumatrans may have settled in the upper reaches of Klang River in the first quarter of the 19th century earlier. Kuala Lumpur was a small hamlet of just a few houses and shops at the confluence of Sungai Gombak and Sungai Klang before it grew into a town, it is accepted that Kuala Lumpur become established as a town circa 1857, when the Malay Chief of Klang, Raja Abdullah bin Raja Jaafar, aided by his brother Raja Juma'at of Lukut, raised funds from Malaccan Chinese businessmen to hire some Chinese miners from Lukut to open new tin mines here. The miners landed at Kuala Lumpur and continued their journey on foot to Ampang where the first mine was opened.
Kuala Lumpur was the furthest point up the Klang River to which supplies could conveniently be brought by boat. Although the early miners suffered a high death toll due to the malarial conditions of the jungle, the Ampang mines were successful, the first tin from these mines was exported in 1859. At that time Sutan Puasa was trading near Ampang, two traders from Lukut, Hiu Siew and Yap Ah Sze arrived in Kuala Lumpur where they set up shops to sell provisions to miners in exchange for tin; the town, spurred on by tin-mining, started to develop centred on Old Market Square, with roads radiating out towards Ampang as well as Pudu and Batu where miners started to settled in, Petaling and Damansara. The miners formed gangs among themselves. Leaders of the Chinese community were conferred the title of Kapitan Ci
Iran called Persia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is a country in Western Asia. With over 81 million inhabitants, Iran is the world's 18th most populous country. Comprising a land area of 1,648,195 km2, it is the second largest country in the Middle East and the 17th largest in the world. Iran is bordered to the northwest by Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, to the north by the Caspian Sea, to the northeast by Turkmenistan, to the east by Afghanistan and Pakistan, to the south by the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman, to the west by Turkey and Iraq; the country's central location in Eurasia and Western Asia, its proximity to the Strait of Hormuz, give it geostrategic importance. Tehran is the country's capital and largest city, as well as its leading economic and cultural center. Iran is home to one of the world's oldest civilizations, beginning with the formation of the Elamite kingdoms in the fourth millennium BCE, it was first unified by the Iranian Medes in the seventh century BCE, reaching its greatest territorial size in the sixth century BCE, when Cyrus the Great founded the Achaemenid Empire, which stretched from Eastern Europe to the Indus Valley, becoming one of the largest empires in history.
The Iranian realm fell to Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE and was divided into several Hellenistic states. An Iranian rebellion culminated in the establishment of the Parthian Empire, succeeded in the third century CE by the Sasanian Empire, a leading world power for the next four centuries. Arab Muslims conquered the empire in the seventh century CE; the Islamization of Iran led to the decline of Zoroastrianism, by the country's dominant religion, Iran's major contributions to art and science spread within the Muslim rule during the Islamic Golden Age. After two centuries, a period of various native Muslim dynasties began, which were conquered by the Seljuq Turks and the Ilkhanate Mongols; the rise of the Safavids in the 15th century led to the reestablishment of a unified Iranian state and national identity, with the country's conversion to Shia Islam marking a turning point in Iranian and Muslim history. Under Nader Shah, Iran was one of the most powerful states in the 18th century, though by the 19th century, a series of conflicts with the Russian Empire led to significant territorial losses.
The Iranian Constitutional Revolution in the early 20th century led to the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the country's first legislature. A 1953 coup instigated by the United Kingdom and the United States resulted in greater autocracy and growing Western political influence. Subsequent widespread dissatisfaction and unrest against the monarchy led to the 1979 Revolution and the establishment of an Islamic republic, a political system that includes elements of a parliamentary democracy vetted and supervised by a theocracy governed by an autocratic "Supreme Leader". During the 1980s, the country was engaged in a war with Iraq, which lasted for eight years and resulted in a high number of casualties and economic losses for both sides; the sovereign state of Iran is a founding member of the UN, ECO, NAM, OIC, OPEC. It is a major regional and middle power, its large reserves of fossil fuels – which include the world's largest natural gas supply and the fourth largest proven oil reserves – exert considerable influence in international energy security and the world economy.
The country's rich cultural legacy is reflected in part by its 22 UNESCO World Heritage sites, the third largest number in Asia and 11th largest in the world. Iran is a multicultural country comprising numerous ethnic and linguistic groups, the largest being Persians, Azeris and Lurs. Organizations including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized Iran's women's rights record; the term Iran derives directly from Middle Persian Ērān, first attested in a third-century inscription at Rustam Relief, with the accompanying Parthian inscription using the term Aryān, in reference to the Iranians. The Middle Iranian ērān and aryān are oblique plural forms of gentilic nouns ēr- and ary-, both deriving from Proto-Iranian *arya-, recognized as a derivative of Proto-Indo-European *ar-yo-, meaning "one who assembles". In the Iranian languages, the gentilic is attested as a self-identifier, included in ancient inscriptions and the literature of the Avesta, remains in other Iranian ethnic names Alan and Iron.
Iran has been referred to as Persia by the West, due to the writings of Greek historians who referred to all of Iran as Persís, meaning "land of the Persians", while Persis itself was one of the provinces of ancient Iran, today defined as Fars. As the most extensive interaction the Ancient Greeks had with any outsider was with the Persians, the term persisted long after the Greco-Persian Wars. In 1935, Reza Shah requested the international community to refer to the country by its native name, effective March 22 that year; as The New York Times explained at the time, "At the suggestion of the Persian Legation in Berlin, the Tehran government, on the Persian New Year, March 21, 1935, substituted Iran for Persia as the official name of the country." Opposition to the name change led to the reversal of the decision, Professor Ehsan Yarshater, editor of Encyclopædia Iranica, propagated a move to use Persia and Iran interchangeably. Today, both Iran and Persia are used in cultural contexts, while Iran remains irreplaceab
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