People & Population

From the ancient times, Assam has been a melting-pot of various cultural linguistic tribes and races. Assam is often described in the academic circle as an anthropologist’s paradise. All the major races of the world, the Austro-Asiatic, the Indo-Aryans, the Indo-Tibetians, the Mongolians, the Negroids – all have combined to make the great Assamese people. But, there is no scientific evidence to support the premise, as to who were the earliest inhabitants of Assam. In fact, it is only in the New Stone Age, that evidence points towards the occupation of Assam by some race or other.

Assamese race is a composite whole of people belonging to different racial classes who settled in this region. Dr. Lila Gogoi theoretically defines the term ‘Assamese’ as one who is born in Assam, who has been permanently residing in Assam, one who speaks the Assamese language, one who maintains an unbreakable bond with the Assamese way of life and one who has in some way or the other contributed to the upliftment of the State.

But for the sake of easy understanding, we can conclude that the first race to settle in Assam was Austrics, then followed the Mongolians and finally came the Aryans.

Austrics entered Assam through the sea route. The physical appearance of these people was thin. They were short in stature and their skins were dark. Their hair was copper coloured and curly. They generally settled in the plains. Later on, they perhaps mingled with the Mongolians, according to experts.

The Mongolians entered Assam through the Patkai hill range via Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. They were sallow complexioned with straight spiky hair, broad faced and small eyed.

Ahoms, Kachari, Koch, Rabha, Mech, Mikir (Karbi), Lalung (Tiwa), Garo, Naga, Luchai, Kuki, Chutia, Khamti, Singhphow, Adi, Aka, Dafala, Mising, Boro etc. are descendents of this original race. The advent of the Mongolians carried up to as late as 17th century.

Around the time the Mongolians entered Assam, the Aryans also started filtering into India via the north-west route. Although majority of the Aryans settled in the Gangetic plains, a sizeable populatin entered Assam through Bihar and West Bengal. The Aryans who came here had Inter-racial marriages with the local women, resulting in a new community. In this manner, Aryan civilization spread its roots and flourished in this State. In ancient times, before Ahoms finally established their rule over Assams, the kings who were ruling before them brought these Brahmins (Aryans) along with them for their erudition and learning. The modern day Assamese Brahmin can be said to be the descendents of those ancient Aryans.

The Population

According to Final Population Totals of 2001 census, the population of Assam stands at 2,66,55,528; of which 1,37,77,037 are males and 1,28,78,491 are females. Assam is the home of about 2.59% of India’s Population. The State accounts for 2.39% of the India’s total area.

Assamis extremely under-urbanised. According to 2001 census only 13 percent of the population of the State live in towns.

In 2001 Assam had 26,312 inhabited villages accounting for about 4 percent of the country’s total number (5,93,731) of villages. The scheduled caste and scheduled tribes populations as per 2001 census are 18,25,949 and 33,08,570 respectively.

Population Density

Population density ( the number of persons per square kilometer) of Assam is 340 in 2001. In 1901 it was 42 persons only. From the data available so far, among the districts, Dhubri has the highest density of 585 persons per square kilometer followed by Nagoan (582) and Kamrup (579). North Cachar Hills is the most sparsely populated area of the State with 38 persons per sq. km.

                  Population Trends in Assam (in thousand)

Year                            Persons                        Plain Districts           Hill Districts

1901                            3290                            3249                               41

1911                            3849                            3822                               27       

1921                            4637                            4608                              29

1931                            5560                            5527                              33

1941                            6695                            6562                            133     

1951                            8029                            7864                            165

1961                            10837                          10558                          279

1971                            14625                          14170                          455

1981*                           18041                          NA                                 NA

1991                            22414                          21600                          814

2001                            26655                          25654                          1001

*The 1981 census could not be held in Assam. The population figure for 1981 has been worked out by interpolation.


Census Year                            Density                        All India

1901                                        42                                    77       

1911                                        49                                    82

1921                                        59                                    81

1931                                        71                                    90

1941                                        85                                  103

1951                                        102                               177

1961                                        138                               142

1971                                        186                               177     

1981                                        230                               216

1991                                        286                               267

2001                                        340                               324



Religion                                               Nos.                                   %

Hindus                                              1,72,96,455                    64.89

Muslims                                               82,40,611                    30.92  

Christians                                              9,86,589                      3.70    

Sikhs                                                          22,519                      0.08

Buddhists                                                  51,029                      0.19

Jains                                                          23,957                      0.09

Other Religions & Persuasions           22,999                     0.09    

Religion not stated                              11,369                         0.04

Total                                                    2,66,55,528               100.00

Source : Statistical Hand Book of Assam, 2007

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