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The first regular census is understood to have been conducted in the year 1852. The registration of births,  deaths and marriages  was made compulsory in 1854.

The first officially declared census was conducted only in 1891.All houses, huts, choultries and other buildings in the town and villages were first numbered by the officials of the Revenue Department. Official results claiming Karaikal population stood at 60,388 out of total 2,52,370.

Census - 1901-1948: In 1901 census instructions were published for the first time authenticated by the Governor. These instructions were re-issued every 10 years 1911, 1921, 1931, 1941 and in 1948.


The famous papers of CORDIER (Administrateur de Karikal), throw some light on the population of Karaikal between 1791 and 1819.

Years     1791      1817    1819
Male .    8827    9331    9818
Females    10198   10280      10990
Boys     3973      3690    3986
Girls      3104      3716    3342
Slaves      583      0    0
Total    26685      27017     28136 

Reliable data of the population of the establishments are furnished by the ANNUAIRS since 1838. During the period from 1851 to 1971, the population of Karaikal underwent major fluctuations. The population which stood at 59,872 in 1851 declined to 52,643 in 1861.

Within the next five years, the population showed spectacular increase to reach 92,704 which amounted to an annual rate of increase of 16%. No plausible explanation is available for the sharp increase in population during this period. It is quite possible that chancess of emigration to the colonies attracted the population from the surrounding countryside to Karaikal.

The order of 17 June 1859 in fact permitted emigration of population from Pondicherry and Karaikal to Reunion. Thereafter the population remained steady for almost 20 years and declined sharply in 1889 to 60,760.

Interestingly, it will be observed that the posts of Controller of Emigration in Pondicherry and Karaikal were abolished on 10 February, 1898. Thereafter the population remained almost static for more than five decades i.e., upto 1941 when the population stood at 60,555.

There was a significant rate of decline between 1911-21. The region was often subjected to the ravages of epidemics of small-pox and cholera. The influenza epidemics of 1918 and 1919 were particularly more severe in Karaikal. Since then the population of Karaikal showed steady increase and crossed the one hundred thousand figure in 1971.


The system of classification of population as urban and rural was not adopted during the French period. This concept was first introduced in this Territory only in 1961. As such, there is little scope for an in-depth study of the problem of urbanization in the Territory.

According to the 1961 census, the urban population figured at 22,252 in Karaikal urban area. Considering the range and scope of industries located in the town, it will be more appropriate to describe Pondicherry and Karaikal too as an industrial town.

Karaikal has the least number of houses per square mile showing the less congested nature among the rural areas of the Territory.


The abolition of the post of Controller of Emigration in Pondicherrry and Karaikal on 10-02-1898 marked the end of large-scale emigration. With the advent of the 20th century the international character of emigration diminished in importance.

All areas except Karaikal have attracted more male immigrants. Karaikal females are more than the males. This may mean that in Karaikal more women move to the town by marriage from other parts of Thanjavur District.


Year Persons Decadal
decade Variation
Males Females
1901 56,595 - - N.A N.A
1911 56,577 -18 -0.03 25,640 30,937
1921 54,356 -,221 -3.93 25,325 29,937
1931 57,394 +3,038 +5.59 N.A N.A
1941 60,555 +3,161 +5.51 N.A N.A
1948 70,541 +9,986 +16.49 33,982 36,559
1961 84,001 +13,460 +19.08 40,859 43,142
1971 100,042 +16,041 +19.10 49,458 50,584
1981 120,010 +19,968 +19.96 59,367 60,643
1991 145,703 +25,693 +21.41 72,557 73,146
2001 170,791 +25,088 +17.22 84,487 86,304
2011 2,00,222 +29,431 +17.23 97,809 1,02,413

Religion and Language

Karaikal has only three major religious communities viz. Hindus, Muslims and Christines. This Union Territory has a very interesting language composition. This is primarily due to the scattered location of the regions. However, Karaikal being surrounded by Tamil Nadu State where the dominant language is T A M I L.

Social Life

CASTE STRUCTURE: Although it is not known how long and to what extent this fourfold classification was adhered to in practice in the areas that now fall under this Territory, it may be assumed that the four fold division of society in accordance with the Hindu sastra continued to be respected even during the Chola days. Many new castes found a place in the social strata of the Tamil districts including Karaikal region with the influx of Telugu and Kanarese people during the Vijayanagar days. The French having come here originally as traders did not interfere in matters of customs and practices. Even after they established themselves as the rulers of the land they allowed the natives to maintain good relations with them. These customs and practices were closely linked to the system of castism. The French when they returned in 1816 were a changed lot carrying some of the sparks of the French Revolution. The order of the Governor dated 6-01-1819 extended the French Civil Code to the French establishments, without prejudice to local customs and usages. The order enjoined that Hindus shall be governed by the provisions of the French Civil Code only in matters when the provisions of this Code were not contrary to Hindu customs.