India's diverse languages and cultures are the result of many outside influences. The subcontinent has been continuously raided from the north, despite the natural barriers provided by the Himalayas.
The Dravidians were India's first inhabitants. Archaeologists believe the Dravidians migrated to India from East Africa in prehistoric times. Aryan invaders from the north conquered the Dravidians about 1500BC. The Aryans were related to the Persians and Europeans. Their language, Sanskrit, is similar to Greek and Latin. Linguists classify Sanskrit as an "Indo-European language." Most of India's languages are rooted in Sanskrit or Dravidian languages.
During the 19th century, some Europeans con-cluded that people who spoke Indo-European languages were responsible for most human progress. They regarded the Germanic people as the "purest Aryans" and said they were superior to other races. Later study proved these conclusions false, but Adolph Hitler and the Nazis used these ideas to exterminate Jews, Gypsies, and other "non-Aryans."
Persians, Alexander the Great's armies from Greece, and Huns from Central Asia also invaded India in ancient times. About AD800, Muslims first began to settle near the mouth of the Indus River in modern Pakistan. Muslim warriors began to move south about AD1000 to conquer the Indians. The Indian's slow elephants were no match for the Muslim's swift war horses. Additionally, the Indians relied on the warrior Kshatriya caste to fight. Moreover, Indians from lower castes were attracted to Islam because Muslims believe that all people are equal.