Density of population, India

“Experience shows that a very populous city can rarely, if ever, be well governed. To the size of states there is a limit, as there is to other things (plants, animals, implements), for none of these retain their natural power when they are too large or too small.”
‘Density of Population’ is denned as the number of persons per square kilometer. It is an important index of population which shows concentration of population in a particular area. As per the provisional population totals of Census 2011, the population density of India has gone up to 382 persons per square kilometer from 325 persons per square kilometer in 20011. On an average, 57 more people inhabit every square kilometer in the country as compared to a decade ago.
As is noted in Chapter 3, India accounts for a meagre 2.4 percent of the world surface area of 135.79 million square kms. On the other hand, it supports and sustains 17.5 per cent of the world population. In contrast, the USA accounts for 7.2 per cent of the surface area with only 4.5 per cent of the world population. As such, among the ten most populous countries of the world, only Bangladesh has a higher population density compared to India.
The population density of India from 1901 to 2011 is shown in Statement 31. At the beginning of the twentieth century i.e. in 1901 the density of India was as low as 77 persons per sq. km. This steadily increased in each decade to reach 382 persons per sq. km. in 2011. This constitutes a 17.5 per cent increase over 2001.

Density of population, India: 1901-2011


  1. While working out the density of India, Jammu & Kashmir has been excluded as comparable figures of area and Population are not available for that State.
  2. The density has been worked out on comparable data.

Ranking of States and Union Territories by density: 2001 and 2011

Note: While working out the density figures for Jammu S Kashmir for 2001 and 2011 censuses, the entire area and population of those portions of Jammu & Kashmir which are under illegal occupation of Pakistan and China have not been taken into account.

Area and Population 2011(States/Union Territories)


A better analysis would be possible if the States and Union Territories are segregated. The following Statement gives the comparative ranking of States in 2011 and 2001.

Ranking of States by density: 2001 and 2011

The Statement given above reveals that the first two States have interchanged their places. Bihar is at the top pushing West Bengal to second rank. Kerala and Uttar Pradesh have retained their rankings of third and fourth respectively Haryana on the other hand has advanced by two ranks from Rank 7 to Rank 5 replacing Punjab which has fallen by two ranks from 5 to 7. Jharkhand, similarly has risen by two places from Rank 10 to 8 replacing Goa which has declined from Rank 8 to 10. Karnataka has moved up by one place while Andhra Pradesh has fallen by one place from 13 to 14. Meghalaya has moved up by 2 ranks; Jammu & Kashmir has moved up by 3 ranks; Himachal Pradesh dropped by 1 rank; Nagaland dropped by 4 ranks. Other states namely, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Maharashtra, Tripura, Gujarat, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Chhattisgarh, Manipur, Sikkim, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh have retained their rankings.


An attempt has been made to analyse the differentials in population densities across the six regions in the country. Statement 35 gives the States/UTs included in different regions and densities of each of the regions.

Population Density in different regions, States and Union Territories: 2001 and 2011

It may be seen that the Eastern region has the highest density of 625 persons per sq. Km. and the North Eastern region has the lowest density of 176 persons per sq. Km. Central region occupies the second highest place in density with 417 followed by Southern region (397), Western region (344) and Northern region (267) respectively. Over the period 2001-2011, the density in the Central region (20.31%), Northern region (19.48%) and Eastern region (18.98%) has gone up at a higher pace than that of Western region (17.18%), North-Eastern region (17%) and Southern region (12.58%).

Density of Population, India, States and Union Territories: 2001

Density of Population, India, States and Union Territories: 2011

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