Karachi - Demographics

Demographics

Population growth
Census Pop.
1881 73,560
1891 105,199 43.0%
1901 136,297 29.6%
1911 186,771 37.0%
1921 244,162 30.7%
1931 300,799 23.2%
1941 435,887 44.9%
1951 1,068,459 145.1%
1961 1,912,598 79.0%
1972 3,426,310 79.1%
1981 5,208,132 52.0%
1998 9,339,023 79.3%
Source:
†Huge population rise between 1941 and 1951 due to
large scale migration after independence in 1947

Karachi's inhabitants, locally known as Karachiites, are composed of ethno-linguistic groups from all parts of Pakistan, as well as migrants from South Asia, making the city's population a diverse melting pot. At the end of the 19th century, the population of the city was about 105,000, with a gradual increase over the next few decades, reaching more than 400,000 on the eve of independence. Estimates of the population range from 15 to 18 million, of which an estimated 90% are migrants from different backgrounds. The city's population is estimated to be growing at about 5% per year (mainly as a result of internal rural-urban migration), including an estimated 45,000 migrant workers coming to the city every month from different parts of Pakistan.

The earliest inhabitants of the area that became Karachi were Sindhi tribes such as the Jokhio, Mallaah and Jath in the east and Baloch in the west and. Before the end of British colonial rule and the subsequent independence of Pakistan in 1947, the population of the city was vastly consisting Hindus and Sikhs, but the community is still present numbering around 250,000 residents. The city was, and still is home to a large community of Gujarati Muslims who were one of the earliest settlers in the city, and still form the majority in Saddar Town. Important Gujarati Muslim communities in the city include the Memon, Chhipa, Ghanchi, Khoja, Bohra and Tai. Other early settlers included the Marwari Muslims, Parsis originally from Iran, Marathi and Konkani Muslims from Maharashtra (settled in Kokan Town), Goan Catholics and Anglo-Indians. Most non-Muslims left the city to India in the 1950s, after independence, but there are still small communities of Parsis, Goan Catholics and Anglo-Indians in the city.

The independence of Pakistan in 1947 saw the influx of refugees. Majority of the Urdu speaking and other non-Punjabi refugees from various states of India settled in Karachi which is why the culture of the city is a blend of South Asia. Most properties vacated by Hindus, who left Karachi due to the violence made by these refugees, were granted to Urdu-speaking Muslim migrants through claims on behalf of the properties they claimed of leaving behind in India. Today, the descendants of these refugees are known as Muhajirs form a powerful large population of Karachi. These Mohajirs include ethno-linguist Urdu, Gujarati, Marathi, Konkani Muslims, Rajasthani and Malabari Muslims from India, Biharis and Bengali of Bangladesh are around 7 million. Majority of the Gujaratis in Karachi are ethno-linguistically Sindhis; majority of Rajasthani settled in the city much before the partition of India in 1947; Biharis of Bangladesh speak Bhojpuri and Bengali speak Bengalis and Rohinyga Chittagong and Burmese language. After independence of Pakistan, a considerable number of Punjabi Muslims from Pakistani Punjab and Kashmiri Muslims from the Kashmir Valley settle in Karachi mostly due to establishment of military cantonments in the city. There are numerous Pashto speakers Pakhtuns from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan Provinces of Pakistan. There is also a sizeable community of Marathi Hindus and Malayali Muslims in Karachi (the Mappila), originally from Kerala in South India.

Sindhis, Muhajir, Pashtuns, Baloch and Punjabis are the major ethnic groups of the city, out of which Sindhi and Baloch are indigenous inhabitants, and Muhajirs are also considered to be the native after their migration to Sindh during partition of British India in 1947. With as high as 3 million by some estimates, the city of Karachi in Pakistan has the largest concentration of urban Pakhtun population in the world, including 50,000 registered Afghan refugees in the city.

After the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, thousands of Biharis and Bengalis from Bangladesh arrived in the city, and today Karachi is home to 1 to 2 million ethnic Bengalis from Bangladesh (see Bangladeshis in Pakistan), many of whom migrated in the 1980s and 1990s. They were followed by Rohingya Muslim refugees from western Burma (for more information, see Burmese people in Pakistan), and Asian refugees from Uganda. One under-privileged sub-ethnic group is the Siddis (Negro - Sheedi) who are now naturalized Sindhi speakers however trace their roots to African slaves from earlier centuries. Many other refugees from Iran and the Central Asian countries constituting the former Soviet Union have also settled in the city as economic migrants. A large numbers of Arabs, Filipinos and an economic elite of Sinhalese from Sri Lanka. Expatriates from China have a history going back to the 1940s; today, many of the Chinese are second-generation children of immigrants who came to the city and worked as dentists, chefs and shoemakers.

Karachi is host to many Western expatriates in Pakistan. During World War II, about 30,000 Polish refugees migrated to Karachi, at that time under British colonial rule. Many of these Polish families settled permanently in the city. There are also communities of American and British expatriates.

Pakistan has not carried a national census since 1998 due to conflict over the process as the census of 1998 became highly controversial for the people of Sindh. According to the last official census of the country, which was held in 1998, the linguistic distribution of the city was: Urdu: 48.52%; Punjabi: 13.94%; Pashto: 11.42%‎; Sindhi: 7.22%; Balochi: 4.34%; Saraiki: 2.11%; others: 12.44%. The others include Dari, Gujarati, Dawoodi Bohra, Memon, Marwari, Brahui, Makrani, Khowar, Burushaski, Arabic, Persian and Bengali.

According to the census of 1998, the religious breakdown of the city was: Muslim (96.45%); Christian (2.42%); Hindu (0.86%); Ahmadiyya (0.17%); others (0.10%) (Parsis, Sikhs, Bahá'ís, Jews and Buddhists). Karachi has been sometimes regarded as an ethnically segregated city, with 75% of the city regarded as being segregated along ethnic lines.

Rank Language 1998 census Speakers 1981 census Speakers
1 Urdu 48.52% 4,497,747 54.34% 2,830,098
2 Punjabi 13.94% 1,292,335 13.64% 710,389
3 Pashto 11.42% 1,058,650 08.71% 453,628
4 Sindhi 07.22% 669,340 06.29% 327,591
5 Balochi 04.34% 402,386 04.39% 228,636
6 Saraiki 02.11% 195,681 00.35% 18,228
7 Others 12.44% 1,153,126 12.27% 639,560
All 100% 9,269,265 100% 5,208,132

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