The second-most-populous country in the world (and the most populous democracy), the federal union of India is divided into 28 states and eight "union territories", which are essentially fledgling states overseen by the national government. The Parliament of India has the sole power to create new states and union territories (or merge old ones). The people of India speak a wealth of languages—22 are listed in the country's constitution, and more than 450 have been cataloged—and state boundaries are typically determined by the primary language spoken in the region.
All of the states and unions in India technically have three capitals. The first is the administrative capital, which is home to the executive government offices. Second is the judicial capital, where the territorial high courts are located. The third is the legislative capital, where the state assembly meets. A given city can serve multiple roles—for example, the city of Patna is the administrative, legislative, and judicial capital of the state of Bihar—but many states do divide these roles between two or (in the state of Goa) even three different cities. A few states and territories also alternate between two different cities for their legislative capital, depending upon the season.
Each individual state has an elected head of government, the Chief Minister, who serves a five-year term, as well as an elected legislature. Three of the five territories: Puducherry, Jammu and Kashmir, and the National Capital Territory of Delhi have a similar form of government. The remaining five territories are overseen by the national government, which appoints administrative leaders.
The state of Rajasthan in Northern India has the largest land area of all the states with more than 342,269 square kilometers. Broken down by population, the largest Indian state is Uttar Pradesh, which is home to more than 199 million people. Conversely, India's least populous state is Sikkim (610,577), making it the only full state with a population of less than 1 million. The smallest state by area is Goa, which has a total area of just 3,702 square kilometers.
India's states are very diverse linguistically, with multiple official languages throughout. These include Marathi, Hindi, Bengali, Nepali, Kannada, and other languages. Many states even have multiple official languages, usually a primary region-specific language alongside English and/or Urdu.
India's history also includes several states that no longer exist, typically due to realignments that occurred between 1949 and 1960, as a newly independent India established its governmental systems. These include the following:
India consists of 29 states and is the second-most populated country in the world.