A World of Words: South Asia - Middle School and High School

You don't need a sherpa to guide you through South Asia — just practice this list! Learn all about South Asian countries, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh. You'll review the physical geography of the subcontinent, agriculture and industrialization, major religions including Hinduism and Buddhism, and much more.
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Full list of words from this list:

  1. aftershock
    a tremor following the main tremor of an earthquake
  2. agriculture
    the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock
  3. alluvial plain
    a flat resulting from repeated deposits of alluvial material by running water
  4. animism
    the doctrine that all natural objects have souls
  5. Arabian Sea
    a northwestern arm of the Indian Ocean between India and Arabia
  6. arable
    capable of being farmed productively
  7. archipelago
    a group of many islands in a large body of water
  8. arsenic
    a very poisonous metallic element
  9. Aryan
    a member of the prehistoric people who spoke Proto-Indo European
  10. atoll
    an island consisting of a coral reef surrounding a lagoon
  11. avatar
    the manifestation of a Hindu deity in human or animal form
  12. Bahai
    a teacher of or believer in Bahaism
  13. Bangladesh
    a Muslim republic in southern Asia bordered by India to the north and west and east and the Bay of Bengal to the south; formerly part of India and then part of Pakistan; it achieved independence in 1971
  14. Bay of Bengal
    an arm of the Indian Ocean to the east of India
  15. Bengal
    a region whose eastern part is now Bangladesh and whose western part is included in India
  16. Bengali
    of or relating to or characteristic of Bengal or its people
  17. Bengal tiger
    southern short-haired tiger
  18. Bhagavadgita
    (Hinduism) the sacred `song of God' composed about 200 BC and incorporated into the Mahabharata (a Sanskrit epic); contains a discussion between Krishna and the Indian hero Arjuna on human nature and the purpose of life
  19. Bhutan
    a landlocked principality in the Himalayas to the northeast of India
  20. biodiversity
    the variety of plant and animal life in a habitat
  21. Brahma
    the Creator
  22. Brahmaputra River
    an Asian river; flows into the Bay of Bengal
  23. Brahmin
    any of several breeds of Indian cattle
  24. Buddha
    founder of Buddhism; worshipped as a god (c 563-483 BC)
  25. Buddhism
    the teaching of Buddha that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire, that suffering ceases when desire ceases, and that enlightenment obtained through right conduct and wisdom and meditation releases one from desire and suffering and rebirth
  26. buffer state
    a neutral country situated between two rival powers
  27. business district
    the central area or commercial center of a town or city
  28. Calcutta
    the largest city in India and one of the largest cities in the world; located in eastern India; suffers from poverty and overcrowding
  29. cash crop
    a cultivated plant that is grown to be sold for profit
  30. caste
    a hereditary social class among Hindus
  31. Christianity
    a monotheistic system of beliefs and practices based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and emphasizing the role of Jesus as savior
  32. cinnamon
    tropical Asian tree with aromatic yellowish-brown bark
  33. civil war
    a war between factions in the same country
  34. clan
    group of people related by blood or marriage
  35. coastal
    of or relating to the shoreline
  36. Colombo
    the capital and largest city of Sri Lanka
  37. colonialism
    exploitation by a stronger country of a weaker one
  38. colony
    a geographical area controlled by a distant country
  39. cricket
    a game played with a ball and bat by two teams of 11 players
  40. cyclone
    a violent rotating windstorm
  41. deforestation
    the removal of trees
  42. delta
    a low area of alluvial deposits where a river divides
  43. democratic
    representing or appealing to the people at large
  44. desert
    arid land with little or no vegetation
  45. development
    making some area of land or water more profitable or useful
  46. Dhaka
    the capital and largest city of Bangladesh
  47. Dharma
    basic principles of the cosmos
  48. Dravidian
    a member of one of the aboriginal races of India
  49. earthquake
    vibration from underground movement along a fault plane
  50. East India Company
    an English company formed in 1600 to develop trade with the new British colonies in India and southeastern Asia; in the 18th century it assumed administrative control of Bengal and held it until the British army took over in 1858 after the Indian Mutiny
  51. elephant
    five-toed pachyderm
  52. elevation
    distance of something above a reference point
  53. enlightenment
    the beatitude that transcends the cycle of reincarnation
  54. erosion
    the process of wearing or grinding something down
  55. estuary
    the wide part of a river where it nears the sea
  56. ethnic group
    people of the same race or nationality who share a distinctive culture
  57. forestry
    the science of developing and caring for wooded areas
  58. frontier
    an international boundary or the area immediately inside it
  59. Ganges River
    an Asian river
  60. Gautama Siddhartha
    founder of Buddhism; worshipped as a god (c 563-483 BC)
  61. ghat
    stairway in India leading down to a landing on the water
  62. ghee
    clarified butter used in Indian cookery
  63. globalization
    growth to a worldwide scale
  64. Goa
    a state of southwestern India; a former Portuguese colony
  65. green revolution
    the introduction of pesticides and high-yield grains and better management during the 1960s and 1970s which greatly increased agricultural productivity
  66. guerilla
    one who fights a stronger force by sabotage and harassment
  67. habitat
    the type of environment in which an organism normally lives
  68. Harijan
    belongs to lowest social and ritual class in India
  69. Himalayas
    a mountain range extending 1500 miles on the border between India and Tibet; this range contains the world's highest mountain
  70. Hindi
    the most widely spoken of modern Indic vernaculars
  71. Hinduism
    a body of religious and philosophical beliefs and cultural practices native to India and based on a caste system; it is characterized by a belief in reincarnation, by a belief in a supreme being of many forms and natures, by the view that opposing theories are aspects of one eternal truth, and by a desire for liberation from earthly evils
  72. Hindu Kush
    a mountain range extending to the west of the Himalayas
  73. Hyderabad
    a city in southern Pakistan on the Indus River
  74. India
    a republic in the Asian subcontinent in southern Asia
  75. Indian Ocean
    the 3rd largest ocean
  76. Indo-European
    of or relating to the Indo-European language family
  77. Indus River
    an Asian river that rises in Tibet and flows through northern India and then southwest through Kashmir and Pakistan to the Arabian Sea
  78. industrialization
    the development of commercial enterprise
  79. infrastructure
    basic facilities needed for the functioning of a country
  80. Inter-Services Intelligence
    the Pakistan intelligence agency
  81. invader
    someone who enters by force in order to conquer
  82. Islam
    the monotheistic religious system of Muslims
  83. Islamabad
    the capital of Pakistan in the north on a plateau
  84. Jainism
    religion founded in the 6th century BC as a revolt against Hinduism; emphasizes asceticism and immortality and transmigration of the soul; denies existence of a perfect or supreme being
  85. K2
    a mountain peak in the Karakoram Range in northern Kashmir
  86. Karachi
    the largest city in Pakistan
  87. karma
    effects of one's actions that determine his or her destiny
  88. Kashmir
    an area in southwestern Asia whose sovereignty is disputed between Pakistan and India
  89. Kathmandu
    the capital and largest city of Nepal
  90. Khyber Pass
    a mountain pass of great strategic and commercial value in the Hindu Kush on the border between northern Pakistan and western Afghanistan; a route by which invaders entered India
  91. kingdom
    the domain ruled by a monarch
  92. Kolkata
    the largest city in India and one of the largest cities in the world; located in eastern India; suffers from poverty and overcrowding
  93. Kshatriya
    a member of the royal or warrior Hindu caste
  94. Lahore
    city in northeast Pakistan
  95. landlocked
    surrounded entirely or almost entirely by land
  96. literacy
    the ability to read and write
  97. livestock
    any animals kept for use or profit
  98. lowland
    low level country
  99. maharajah
    a great raja
  100. Mahatma Gandhi
    political and spiritual leader during India's struggle with Great Britain for home rule; an advocate of passive resistance (1869-1948)
  101. Maldives
    a republic on the Maldive Islands
  102. Male
    the capital of Maldives in the center of the islands
  103. mandala
    any of various geometric designs symbolizing the universe
  104. meditation
    contemplation of spiritual matters
  105. migration
    the movement of persons from one locality to another
  106. Mogul
    a member of the Muslim dynasty that ruled India until 1857
  107. monarchy
    autocracy governed by a ruler who usually inherits authority
  108. monastery
    the residence of a religious community
  109. monotheism
    belief in a single God
  110. monsoon
    a seasonal wind in southern Asia
  111. mountainous
    containing many mountains
  112. Mt. Everest
    a mountain in the central Himalayas on the border of Tibet and Nepal; the highest mountain peak in the world (29,028 feet high)
  113. Mumbai
    a city in western India just off the coast of the Arabian Sea; India's 2nd largest city (after Calcutta); has the only natural deep-water harbor in western India
  114. Muslim
    a believer in or follower of Islam
  115. Nepal
    a small landlocked Asian country high in the Himalayas between India and China
  116. New Delhi
    the capital of India is a division of the old city of Delhi
  117. nirvana
    the beatitude that transcends the cycle of reincarnation
  118. nonviolence
    peaceful resistance to a government
  119. oxbow lake
    a crescent-shaped lake (often temporary) that is formed when a meander of a river is cut off from the main channel
  120. Pakistan
    a Muslim republic that occupies the heartland of ancient south Asian civilization in the Indus River valley; formerly part of India; achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1947
  121. parliament
    a legislative assembly in certain countries
  122. partition
    divide into parts, pieces, or sections
  123. passive resistance
    peaceful resistance to a government by fasting or refusing to cooperate
  124. pilgrimage
    a journey to a sacred place
  125. plain
  126. plantation
    an estate where cash crops are grown on a large scale
  127. plateau
    a relatively flat raised area of land
  128. pollutant
    waste matter that contaminates the water, air, or soil
  129. polytheism
    belief in multiple gods
  130. population
    the people who inhabit a territory or state
  131. population growth
    increase in the number of people who inhabit a territory or state
  132. poverty
    the state of having little or no money and possessions
  133. protectorate
    a state or territory partly controlled by a stronger state
  134. Punjab
    a historical region on northwestern India and northern Pakistan
  135. Punjabi
    a member of the majority people of Punjab in northwestern India
  136. raj
    British dominion over India (1757-1947)
  137. reincarnation
    the doctrine that a person may be reborn successively
  138. republic
    a political system in which power lies in a body of citizens
  139. runoff
    the occurrence of surplus liquid exceeding capacity
  140. rural
    of or relating to the countryside as opposed to the city
  141. samsara
    (Hinduism and Buddhism) the endless cycle of birth and suffering and death and rebirth
  142. Sanskrit
    an ancient language of India
  143. sea level
    level of the ocean's surface
  144. secular
    not concerned with or devoted to religion
  145. sediment
    matter that has been deposited by some natural process
  146. senate
    assembly possessing high legislative powers
  147. sharia
    the code of religious law derived from the Quran
  148. Sherpa
    a member of the Himalayan people living in Nepal and Tibet who are famous for their skill as mountaineers
  149. Shiva
    the destroyer
  150. Shudra
    a member of the lowest or worker Hindu caste
  151. Sikhism
    the doctrines of a monotheistic religion founded in northern India in the 16th century by Guru Nanak and combining elements of Hinduism and Islam
  152. Sind
    a region of southeastern Pakistan
  153. Sinhalese
    a native or inhabitant of Sri Lanka
  154. Sri Lanka
    a republic on the island of Ceylon
  155. subcontinent
    a large, distinct landmass that is part of a larger landmass
  156. subsistence farming
    farming that provides for the basic needs of the farmer without surpluses for marketing
  157. sultan
    the ruler of a Muslim country
  158. Sunni
    a member of one of the two main branches of orthodox Islam
  159. sweatshop
    a factory where workers earn low pay in poor conditions
  160. Taj Mahal
    beautiful mausoleum at Agra built by the Mogul emperor Shah Jahan (completed in 1649) in memory of his favorite wife
  161. Tamil
    of or relating to a speaker of the Tamil language or the language itself
  162. Tamil Tigers
    a terrorist organization in Sri Lanka that began in 1970 as a student protest over the limited university access for Tamil students; currently seeks to establish an independent Tamil state called Eelam; relies on guerilla strategy including terrorist tactics that target key government and military personnel
  163. temple
    a place of worship
  164. territory
    a region marked off for administrative or other purposes
  165. Thar Desert
    a desert to the east of the Indus River in northwestern India and southeastern Pakistan
  166. Theravada
    one of two great schools of Buddhist doctrine emphasizing personal salvation through your own efforts; a conservative form of Buddhism that adheres to Pali scriptures and the non-theistic ideal of self purification to nirvana; the dominant religion of Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and Myanmar (Burma) and Thailand and Laos and Cambodia
  167. tourism
    the business of providing services to travelers for pleasure
  168. trade
    the commercial exchange of goods and services
  169. tributary
    a branch that flows into the main stream
  170. tropical
    relating to part of the Earth's surface with hot climate
  171. untouchable
    not capable of being obtained
  172. Urdu
    the official literary language of Pakistan, closely related to Hindi; widely used in India (mostly by Moslems); written in Arabic script
  173. Veda
    (from the Sanskrit word for `knowledge') any of the most ancient sacred writings of Hinduism written in early Sanskrit; traditionally believed to comprise the Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads
  174. Vishnu
    the sustainer
  175. water pollution
    pollution of the water in rivers and lakes
  176. yoga
    discipline training the consciousness for spiritual insight
  177. Zen Buddhism
    school of Mahayana Buddhism asserting that enlightenment can come through meditation and intuition rather than faith; China and Japan
  178. Zoroastrianism
    system of religion founded in Persia in the 6th century BC by Zoroaster; set forth in the Zend-Avesta; based on concept of struggle between light (good) and dark (evil)
Created on February 22, 2017 (updated March 31, 2017)

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