People are producers and consumers of resources. It is the people who form a nation and help develop its economy. Population is the point of reference from which all other elements are observed.
A census is an official enumeration of the population of a country that is recorded periodically. The Indian census is the most comprehensive source of demographic, social and economic data of India. The first census in India was taken in 1872. Censuses have been held regularly every ten years.
The census provides answers to three primary questions about the population:
- Population size and distribution
- Population growth and processes of population change
- Characteristics or qualities of the population
As per the March 2001 census, India’s population stood at 1028 million and accounted for 16.7% of the world’s population.
Almost half of India’s population lives in five states - Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh is the most populated state of India with 166 million people. Population density is the number of persons that live in one square kilometre of an area. India is one of the most densely populated countries of the world.
Rugged terrain and unfavourable climatic conditions are the main reasons for the sparse population in these areas. Moderate to low rainfall and less fertile soils also influence the population density.