New Delhi: Nearly 70 percent of the country's population lives in rural areas where, for the first time since independence, the overall growth rate of population has sharply declined, according to the latest Census.
Of the 121 crore Indians, 83.3 crore live in rural areas while 37.7 crore stay in urban areas, said the Census of India's 2011 Provisional Population Totals of Rural-Urban Distribution in the country, released by Union Home Secretary R K Singh.
"For the first time since independence, the absolute increase in population is more in urban areas than in rural areas. The rural–urban distribution is 68.84 per cent and 31.16 per cent respectively," Registrar General of India and Census Commissioner C Chandramouli said.
The level of urbanisation increased from 27.81 per cent in the 2001 Census to 31.16 per cent in the 2011 Census, while the proportion of rural population declined from 72.19 per cent to 68.84 per cent.
"The slowing down of the overall growth rate of population is due to the sharp decline in the growth rate in rural areas, while the growth rate in urban areas remains almost the same," Chandramouli said.
However, according to the report, the number of births in rural areas have increased by nine crore in the last decade.
The statistics reveal that while the maximum number of people living in rural areas in a particular state is 15.5 crore in Uttar Pradesh, Mumbai tops the list having the maximum number of people in urban areas at five crore.
The data also reflects that 18.62 per cent of the country's rural population lives in Uttar Pradesh and 13.48 per cent urban population lives in Maharashtra.