According to World History Site Indian subcontinent's population in 1000 AD was 79.5 million. (30% of 265 million = 79.5 million)

This estimate is rejected by K.S. Lal who claims its population was about 200 million in 1000 AD.

K.S. Lal concluded that the population of Indian subcontinent in 1000 was about 200 million ...K.S. Lal on Wikipedia

Which estimate is more widely accepted by researchers? What was the population of Indian subcontinent in 1000 AD according to the most widely accepted estimate?

  • 1
    What is the confidence interval of these estimates? If both are +/100 million, then they overlap. Dr. Lal provides at least some basis for estimate; the world history site provides very little information to support the estimate(and appears to be more political than historical).
    – MCW
    Nov 1, 2016 at 14:38
  • Well, if Prof. Lal is right, then the World History Site is wrong not only about the population of India, but also about the population of the world as a whole. Unless we are ready to admit that the population of India was about 75% of the whole world population. So perhaps we should start by verifying whether the site's estimation of a world population of 265 million is reasonable or extraordinarily low. Nov 1, 2016 at 16:14
  • 2
    If this ourworldindata.org/world-population-growth is to be trusted, they have a graphic of several different estimates for the world population (ourworldindata.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/…), none of which seems to be higher than 500 or lower than 250 million for the year 1000. The higher number is perhaps not absurdly incompatible with Prof. Lal's estimate for India (40% of the world population), but also not exactly comfortably fitting. Nov 1, 2016 at 17:00
  • 3
    But I have the impression that this controversy is tinged by contemporary political issues - whether we can blame "Islam" for some kind of genocide in the Indian subcontinent in the first half of the second millenium - rather than being an actual properly historical debate. Nov 1, 2016 at 17:03
  • @LuísHenrique That appears to be precise. Given the far-right hindu nationalist views of present ruling party of India, there is a lot of revisionism going around with many such claims which comfortably disregard the fact that after almost 1000 years of Muslim rule (From 712 AD to 1857 AD), the Muslims were a minority with only present day Pakistan & Bangladesh having Muslim majority. Rest of India was Non-Muslim. If there was a concentrated genocide aimed at them for even 200 years, the demographics would have been very different when Britain took over India.
    – NSNoob
    Jan 4, 2017 at 13:38

2 Answers 2


I will post the estimation made by Angus Maddison, who declares 75 million people. Since he does not include data for that year for Pakistan and Bangladesh, I assume that their population is included in those 75 million.

His dataset (.xls)

  • He does have a separate column for them though, so my first assumption would have been it does not include them, but he didn't have data for them. I think you're probably right though. Also, WTH is up with having a column named "UK" (which is not a geographic construct) in a dataset going back to 1CE?
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 3, 2017 at 14:38

My Go-to source for population numbers is McEvedy and Jones' Atlas of World Population History. It shows the Indian subcontinent with about 79 million people in 1000CE (very close to your first number). There was a more or less steady asymptotic curve up from there, with no noticeable reversals. Here's their graph:

enter image description here

As a sanity check, lets compare with world population in 1000CE. Scott Manning compiled a great graph of all the various number for this. From this it appears that estimates for world population run from about 200 to 500 million, with the general consensus pegging it around 300 million. So, unless that big outlier is right, 200 million for India alone looks quite unlikely.

enter image description here

(You can see my source I used above listed here as "McEvedy and Jones 1978")

  • Relevant: popline.org/node/370470 Feb 3, 2017 at 19:22
  • @MohammadSakibArifin - Got some time to hit my trusty WAOPH. Sadly its very tough to find. But if you can find a legit copy to buy for a reasonable price, do so (it seems to be going for $1,500 new. Yikes!). Also removing my previous comments, because your link now is relevant to this answer. :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 6, 2017 at 3:48

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