There are a wide variety of languages spoken in South Asia. These languages share many characteristics such as grammatical structure and vocabulary, but they are also distinctly different.
In India English and Hindi are the two most commonly spoken languages. English, the language of the region's former colonial masters, is widely spoken by India's intellectual elite.
In Pakistan five languages are mainly spoken. The chart to the right shows Pakistan's languages and the percent of people who speak each of them. Urdu, the designated national language, is spoken by only 8% of the population.
In Bangladesh 98% of the people speak Bangla. In Nepal, Nepalese has been designated the national language, but more than twenty different languages are spoken there.
In Bhutan a variety of languages is spoken.
In Sri Lanka Sinhala is spoken by the Sinhalese majority and Tamil is spoken by the Tamil minority. English is commonly spoken in government.
In Maldives the national and official language is Dhivehi. English and some Indian languages are also spoken in Maldives.
The realm of South Asia was the birthplace of two of the world’s great religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, but there are also immense Muslim populations and large groups of followers of various other religions as well. Hinduism, Islam, and Buddhism are the top three religions of South Asia. While Pakistan and Iran are both Islamic republics, each represents a significant branch of that faith; Iran is predominantly Shia, and Pakistan is mostly Sunni. Religious differences are also evident on the eastern border of the realm, where Bangladesh and India share a border with Myanmar. Bangladesh is mainly a Muslim country, while most in India align themselves with Hinduism. In Myanmar, most follow Buddhist traditions. In addition, Sikhism is a major religion in the Punjab region, which is located on India’s northern border with Pakistan.
The major religions in the subcontinent are Hinduism, Islam, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Christianity. The chart to the right shows the different religions in South Asia and the percent of the more than 1.29 billion people who practice each of them.
South Asian culture includes commonalities in celebrations and festivals.
-Dance is common to all the culture components as a form of announcing harvest, spring and the onset of winter. The people of South Asian culture dance to the beat of a drum, even as they sing and dance. In South Asia, dance is an integral part of the culture, with slight variations in style.