With over one billion people, India is the second most populous country in the world and religiously, culturally and demographically diverse. A predominantly Hindu nation, India is also home to most of the world’s Sikhs and Jains and some of the world’s largest Muslim and Buddhist populations. The dozens of states and territories in the Indian Union also vary widely from each other. To highlight some of those differences, here are key facts about the Indian states, based on the country’s most recent census, conducted in 2011, as well as the Pew Research Center’s 2010 global population estimates and other sources.
India’s most populous state or territory had more people than Brazil in 2011, while the least populous had about as many people as Bermuda. Uttar Pradesh, the most populous state in India, had around 200 million people in 2011. If Uttar Pradesh were its own country, it would have been the fifth most populous in the world that year, ahead of Brazil (195 million inhabitants) and Pakistan (174 million).
India’s second and third most populous states, Maharashtra (112 million) and Bihar (104 million), had roughly the same number of inhabitants as Mexico and the Philippines, the 11th and 12th most populous countries. most populated in the world in 2011.
India’s least populated territory, the southern archipelago of Lakshadweep, had an estimated 60,000 residents in 2011. It was tied with Greenland and Bermuda, and was equivalent to about one-tenth of Wyoming’s population at that time. .
Hindus were in the majority in 28 of India’s 35 states in 2011. About 94% of the world’s Hindus (966 million) lived in India in 2011. In fact, the Hindu population in one of these four Indian states – Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar and Andhra Pradesh – exceeded that of any country in India. outside of India. combined.
Maharashtra – which is on the west coast of India and includes Mumbai, India’s financial center and largest city – also had the highest number of Jains and Buddhists in the country. Sikhs, meanwhile, were concentrated in the northern state of Punjab, on the Pakistani border. About 58% of the Punjab’s 28 million people were Sikhs in 2011, making the state home to most of the world’s Sikhs.
The states and territories of India vary widely in terms of wealth, as measured by gross domestic product per capita in 2019 and 2020. Bihar, near the northeast border and not far from Nepal and Bangladesh, had the lowest GDP per capita in India, at around $ 2,300 (adjusted for purchasing power parity), according to Indian government data. It was similar to the per capita GDP of Mali or Rwanda. Goa, on the west coast of India along the Arabian Sea, was about 10 times richer than Bihar and had India’s highest GDP per capita of $ 22,000, similar to that of Bulgaria.
Literacy rates differ from state to state in India. The country’s poorest state, Bihar, had the lowest literacy rate in the country in 2011, with 64% of residents over the age of 7 able to read and write, according to the Indian census. In Kerala, the state with the highest proportion of literate residents, the rate was 94%. (Kerala was also one of India’s most religiously diverse states, with a high proportion of Hindus, Muslims, and Christians.)
Among all Indians, about three-quarters (74%) could read and write in 2011. This rate was comparable to the literacy rates of Morocco (74%) and Rwanda (73%), and lower than the rate of 99%. in the USA. States, according to the World Bank. Globally, 84% could read and write in 2011.
The average Indian woman has between one and three children in her lifetime, depending on where she lives. a range that is partly linked to differences in wealth and other indicators of prosperity. On the lower end of the spectrum, the fertility rate in the northeastern state of Sikkim is around 1.1, according to India’s most recent 2021 National Family and Health Survey. This rate is similar to that of Singapore and much lower than the roughly 2.1 children per woman needed for each generation to replace itself.
In Bihar, on the other hand, the average woman is expected to have three children, about as many as the average Algerian or Israeli woman. In the United States, the Total Fertility Rate is 1.6, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The global fertility rate is around 2.4.
Life expectancy varies by over a decade in Indian states. The average person in Assam could expect to live to be 64 in 2011, while a resident of Kerala could expect to live to be 75. Overall, India’s life expectancy was 68 years – the same years shorter than the global life expectancy of 71 years. Life expectancy in the United States in 2011 was 79 years, although it also varied among states in the United States.
Stephanie Kramer is a senior researcher specializing in religion at the Pew Research Center.