When we speak of South Asia, we refer to the part of Asia below the Himalayas and encapsulated between the Hindu Kush in Afghanistan and Pakistan to the Rakhine Mountains on the border between Myanmar and India, a mountainous range of dense jungle difficult to traverse. Over 1.7 billion people, or almost a quarter of the world’s entire population, live in South Asia’s seven countries: India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, with India accounting for roughly 70 percent of the region’s total population.
South Asia can be divided into three main parts. The ring of mountains that stretch from the Arabian Sea to the Bay of Bengal encircle the region and also contain South Asia’s main peripheral states. Afghanistan is a mountainous country that is removed from the Indian subcontinent but borders on Pakistan. Because Afghanistan is landlocked and relies on Pakistan for access to the outside world, and because there are cross-border Pashtun popul