Kerala has a very high density of population, in fact the highest density among the Indian states. The density of population in Kerala according to the 1971 census was 549 per sq km while the average for India as a whole was 177. Similarly the state has a high dependency ratio. In 1971 the dependency ratio was 2.43 in Kerala and 2.04 in India as a whole. The above features have been acquired through years of disparate population growth rates. While Kerala’s population increased from 6.4 million in 1901 to 21.3 million in 1971, representing an increase of 233 per cent, that of India rose from 238.4 million to 548.2 million, representing an increase by 132 per cent. In fact the ‘great divide’ in India’s demographic history is not seen in the case of Kerala. From 1901 to 1921 India’s population declined by 0.31 per cent whereas Kerala’s population rose by 9.16 per cent. During the succeeding decades also Kerala had a higher growth rate in population than India as a whole. As a result of this, the population pressure mounted steadily over the decades, and has turned this small landscape into a crowded place.
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