India Population and Religion

India stretches from the Himalayas in the north to the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent in the Indian Ocean and borders Pakistan in the northwest, China , Nepal and Bhutan in the north, Bangladesh and Myanmar in the east.

The Indian subcontinent, bathed in the east by the Bay of Bengal and in the west by the Arabian Sea, is divided into three large tectonic landscapes: the Himalayas , the Ganges-Brahmaputra lowlands and the highlands of Dekhan.

The mighty barrier of the Himalayas , a young fold mountain range with wide valleys and depressions, separates India from Central Asia. In the extreme northwest, beyond the Indus valley, the high mountains of the Karakoram join. The Indian part of the Himalayas includes the Kashmir and the Kumaun Himalayas, the highest peak of which is the Nanda Devi (7,817 m above sea level). In the northeast, in the Assam Himalayas, rises the Kangchenjunga (8,586 m above sea level; on the border between the state of Sikkim and Nepal). The Siwalik chain is in front of the glaciated high mountains. Thanks to the high levels of precipitation, tropical rainforests thrive on the southern slopes of the Himalayas, which change into deciduous and coniferous forests with increasing altitude.

The Ganges- Brahmaputra plain stretches south of the Himalayas, an alluvial land that is largely covered by high-yield clay soils and takes up over a third of the country’s surface. Only in the states of Assam and Meghalaya in the east and in the transition area between the Ganges plain and the industrial lowlands near Delhi in the west do rocks of the geological subsurface come to light. In the flat landscape the rivers slope (especially in the states of West Bengal , Bihar and Assam) during the rainy season to floods and relocations of courses. However, the catastrophic floods that have increased in recent years are also directly related to the destruction of the natural vegetation cover, which is proceeding at an alarming rate. The water retention capacity of the soil, which is deprived of its natural forest and plant cover, is severely impaired. – On the border with Pakistan, India has a share in the eastern Punjab (land of the five rivers), which merges into the desert steppes of the Thar to the south.

The highlands of Dekhan , an old, east sloping basement block, occupy half of the Indian peninsula. In the north of the Dekhan, this plateau is overlooked by individual mountain ranges (Arawalli Mountains, Vindhya Range, Satpura Mountains), which were created by uplifts during the formation of the Himalayas. Partly mighty rivers like the Mahanadi and the Godavari cut the highlands occupied by a short grass steppe. The edges of the highlands of Dekhan bulge into the coast-parallel mountains of the Western Ghats, which steeply drop to the Arabian Sea (Anai Mudi, 2,695 m above sea level) and the Eastern Ghats, which drop to the Bay of Bengal. The coastal plain in the west (Malabar coast and north adjoining coastline) is narrow; in the east (Coromandel coast as well as coastal areas to the north and south) there is a broader lowland area, the rivers push their delta into the sea.

Due to its location on the border of two continental plates drifting towards each other, India is frequently hit by severe earthquakes. On January 26, 2001, India was hit by a severe earthquake (7.9 on the Richter scale) near Bhuj in Gujarat, which caused great damage and revealed weaknesses in the area of ​​civil protection.

The flood disaster of December 26, 2004, triggered by a seaquake off Sumatra, hit the east coast of India hard and killed at least 12,000 people; In addition to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, which belong to India, the state of Tamil Nadu wasparticularly hard hit. In 2011, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake wreaked havoc in the state of Sikkim, killing over 100 people.


India is the second most populous country in the world after China. According to the last census in 2011, it had 1.21 billion residents (1961: 439.2 million, 1971: 548.1 million, 1991: 846.3 million). According to the World Bank, the population was 1.353 billion people in 2018. The population increase in recent decades is primarily a result of lower death rates (1960–65: 1.94%, 1970–75: 1.58%, 1980–85: 1.23%, 2020: 0.73%) in falling but still high birth rate (1960–65: 4.2%, 1970–75: 3.82%, 1980–85: 3.17%, 2020: 1.82%). The latter is high despite the family planning introduced in 1952, as its acceptance varies greatly from region to region and accompanying measures to train women and provide security in old age are sometimes deficient. In the aftermath, measures of forced sterilization between 1975 and 1977 made the implementation of family planning more difficult. Child mortality was reduced from 150 (1965) per 1,000 live births to 35.4 (2020). The population density increased from (1981) 208 residents per km2 to (2018) 455 residents per km 2.

The Ganges-Brahmaputra plain, the west coast (states of Kerala and Gujarat) and the river deltas around Chennai are particularly densely populated, while the Himalayan region, Rajasthan and the Dechan Plateau are sparsely populated.

Around 35% of the population live in cities in 2020 (1961: 18%, 1981: 23%). Around 25% of city dwellers live in slums, often without electricity and water. In contrast, the upper class lives in guarded large residential complexes, the so-called gated communities. Social life is characterized by extreme contrasts. Tens of thousands of Indians live in luxury as multi-millionaires, while around 40% of the population has to get by on less than one US dollar a day.

According to aceinland, the ethnic structure of the population is extremely different. The two main groups are the Indo-European language Indians in the north of the country and the Dravidian language Indians in southeast India (Tamil Nadu) and in the extreme northeast of the Dechan. The latter generally differ from the Indians in the north by their darker skin color. The indigenous peoples (Adivasi) live mainly in the northeast of the country, in central India, in the south as well as on the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Caste: The grounded in Hinduism caste (caste) is still an obstacle to the development of society, although his worst excesses (untouchability) were abolished with the Constitution and offer modernization and urbanization ways to escape from traditional caste barriers. The constitution granted the members of the lowest castes and the casteless (untouchables, Harijans, Dalits; today about 240 million) preferential treatment in the education system and in employment in the public service; however, they are still victims of severe social and economic discrimination, especially in rural areas.

Languages: In addition to Hindi as the official language and English as an “associated” second language, the constitution recognizes 21 regional languages: Assami (spoken by around 19 million people), Bengali (around 80–150 million), Gujarati (around 46 million), Kannada (around 38 million), Kashmiri (around 6 million), Malayalam (around 34 million), Marathi (around 72 million), Oriya (around 33 million), Panjabi (around 29 million), Sanskrit (around 15,000), Santali (around 3.6 million), Sindhi (2.5 million), Tamil (around 61 million), Telugu (around 74 million) and Urdu (around 52 million). Other recognized regional languages ​​with fewer speakers are Bodo, Dogri, Konkani, Maithili, Meitei and Nepali. In addition, many Indians (especially those belonging to ethnic minorities) speak languages ​​that belong to smaller language groups. Many languages ​​are written with their own characters.

In India, the formation of sub-states based on linguistic geography has eliminated the material for political conflict. However, the founding of Andhra Pradesh (1953), Gujarat and Maharashtra (1960) and Haryana (1966) was only allowed after serious unrest. Urdu, Sanskrit and Sindhi enjoy the special protection of the constitution in India.

The central government settled the dispute over the national language Hindi, which was opposed mainly by Tamils ​​and Bengali, by concluding in 1963 that it would keep English in its dealings with non-Hindi states indefinitely.

The largest metropolitan areas in India

Largest metropolitan areas (pop. 2011)
Metropolitan area
Mumbai 18 395 000
Delhi 16 349 800
Kolkata 14 058 000
Chennai 8 653 500
Bangalore 8 520 400
Hyderabad 7 677 000
Ahmadabad 6 357 700
Pune 5 057 700
Surat 4,591,200
Jaipur 3,046,200

India Population and Religion