India Population 2017
1 of every 6 people on the planet live in India, and between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, the country grew by 17.7%, adding 181.5 million people. The country has doubled in size in just 40 years, and is expected to unseat China as the world's most populated country in the next couple decades.
The country as a whole has a population density of 387.9 people per square kilometer (1,004.7/square mile), which ranks 31st in the world. In Mumbai, the population density is 21,000 people per square kilometer (54,000/square mile).
Largest Cities in India
India's largest city is Mumbai, with a population of 12.5 million, closely followed by Delhi, with a population of over 11 million. Overall, there are more than 50 urban areas in India with a population of more than one million people.
Mumbai (formerly Bombay) had an official population of 12,478,447 in 2011, although its wider metropolitan area is much larger - home to 18,414,288 people. It has more than doubled in size in the past forty years, although growth has slowed dramatically in the past decade. During the 1971 census its population was recorded as 5.9 million.
Delhi, India's second most populous city was home to 11,034,555 people according to 2011 data, and its metro area contains 21,753,486 people. Growth in Delhi is even more rapid than Mumbai's, and it is likely that it will overtake Mumbai to become the largest city in India within a decade. The city has struggled to keep up with growth. Nearly half of its residents live in slums, and the city's poverty rate is four times the national average. Contained within Delhi's boundaries is the city of New Delhi, an enclave city which is the official capital city of India. It has a population of 249,998 people.
Largest States in India
There are 29 states in India. Their populations range massively in size – the largest, Uttar Pradesh, holds almost 200 million people, the smallest, Sikkim, just over half a million.
India's largest state is Uttar Pradesh which, with a population of 199,581,520 in 2011, is larger than most countries in the world. If it were a country in its own right, it would be the fifth largest in the world, falling just behind China, India, the United States and Indonesia.
Two other Indian states are home to more than 100 million people - Maharashta (pop: 112.4 million) and Bihar (pop: 103.8 million). The smallest state in India is Sikkim (pop: 607,688).
Hinduism is the most common religion in India, accounting for about 80% of the population. Islam is the second-largest religion at 13% of the population. Other major religious groups in India are Christians (2.3%), Sikhs (1.9%), Buddhists (0.8%) and Jains (0.4%). People who claimed no religion are officially recorded under 'other' by the census. In 2011, 0.9% of Indians selected the 'No Religion' category.
While the number of Indians living in urban areas has increased over the last two decades, about 67% of people still live in rural areas. In 2011, India had a literacy rate of 74%: 82% for men and 65% for women. The literacy rate varies wildly by state. Bihar is the least literate with a rate of 63.82%.
The 2011 census was the second largest the world has ever seen - second only to China's census the previous year. It took place in two phases. The first phase, in April 2010, counted all of the buildings in India, and the second phase collected data about the people of India.
The census was a massive exercise, employing millions of Indians. The total cost of the census came to $439 million which was actually considerably cheaper per person than most censuses held around the world. The average census costs over $4 per person, whereas the census in India cost just $.50 per person.
The 2011 census was the fifteenth nationwide census carried out in India. The first was held in 1881, although it was not able to cover all of British-held Indian territory. The first comprehensive nationwide census was carried out under the auspices of Lord Ripon, the British Viceroy of India at the time, and counted a population of 288 million in 1881. Since then, a census has been held every ten years in India.