Density of Population

Density of population is a better measure of understanding the variation in the distribution of population. It is expressed as number of persons per unit area. In other words, it is the ratio of total population to the total area of the country or a part thereof. For example the total population of India according to 2011 census in 1210.1 million living on a total area of 3.17 million square kilometres (excluding the area of Jammu and Kashmir illegally occupied by Pakistan and China). Therefore, the density of population of India in 2011 is:

Total population = 1210.1 = 382 persons per sq. km.

India’s population density of 382 persons per sq. km. is much higher than China’s 139 persons per sq. km. Among the most populous ten countries of the world, India stands second in density; the first being Bangladesh (1141 persons per sq. km.). Thus heavy pressure of population on land is one of the serious problems of the country. The main cause of worry is that the population density in India has been consistently increasing since 1921. There has been almost five fold increase in the density of population between 1921 and 2011. The density of population increased rapidly between 1951 and 2011.

State Level Analysis

The national average density of 382 persons per square kilometre does not give an idea of the nature of unevenness in population distribution in country. Let us, therefore, examine the spatial patterns in population density keeping the states and union territories in view. There are large-scale variations in the population density from one state to another. The population density varies from a minimum of 17 persons per sq. km in Arunachal Pradesh to 1102 persons per sq. km in Bihar. Among the union territories,

Delhi is the most thickly populated with 11,297 persons per sq. km, while Andaman and Nicobar Islands have the smallest density of only 46 per sq. km. The hilly states of the North and North-East have low density of population due to adverse environmental conditions. The densities are as low as 86 persons per sq. km in Sikkim, 124 in Jammu and Kashmir, 132 in Meghalaya, 122 in Manipur, 123 in Himachal Pradesh and 119 in Nagaland. e average density for Rajasthan, a generally dry state, is 201 persons per sq. km. Densities are generally medium over the states in mid-Indian region and the peninsular plateau, such as Madhya Pradesh (236), Chhattisgarh (189), Orissa (269), Gujarat (308), Karnataka (319), Andhra Pradesh (308) and Maharashtra (365).

Densities are high over coastal state of Tamil Nadu and very high in Kerala. These states have population densities of 555 and 859 persons per sq. km respectively. The densities are also very high over the states of North Indian Plain. The densities show a varying trend while going from Punjab to West Bengal on one hand and towards Punjab on the other. On an average 573 persons live over sq. km. in Haryana, 828 persons in Uttar Pradesh, 1102 persons in Bihar and 1029 persons in West Bengal. Punjab has population density of 550 persons per sq. km.

Ranking of States and Union Territories by population density: 2011

Rank in State/Union Territory Density
2011 (persons per sq. km)  
1 2 3
  India 382
1 NCT of Delhi 11,297
2 Chandigarh 9,252
3 Puducherry 2,598
4 Daman & Diu 2,169
5 Lakshadweep 2,013
6 Bihar 1,102
7 West Bengal 1,029
8 Kerala 859
9 Uttar Pradesh 828
10 Dadra & Nagar Haveli 698
11 Haryana 573
12 Tamil Nadu 555
13 Punjab 550
14 Jharkhand 414
15 Assam 397
16 Goa 394
17 Maharashtra 365
18 Tripura 350
19 Karnataka 319
20 Andhra Pradesh 308
21 Gujarat 308
22 Odisha 269
23 Madhya Pradesh 236
24 Rajasthan 201
25 Uttarakhand 189
26 Chhattisgarh 189
27 Meghalaya 132
28 Jammu & Kashmir 124
29 Himachal Pradesh 123
30 Manipur 122
31 Nagaland 119
32 Sikkim 86
33 Mizoram 52
34 Andaman & Nicobar Islands 46
35 Arunachal Pradesh 17


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