According to 2011 provisional census data, Madurai city had a population of 1,016,885(before expansion of city limit) within the corporation limits, with 509,313 men (50.08 per cent) and 507,572 women (49.92 per cent). The sex ratio of 979 females per 1,000 males is slightly higher than the national average of 944. The urban agglomeration had a population of 1,462,420. Madurai metropolitan area constitutes the third largest metropolitan area in Tamil Nadu and the 24th in India. 8.99 per cent of the population was under six years of age.
The religion data in 2001 indicated a majority of Hindus with sizeable number of Christians and Muslims. Buddhishts, Sikhs and Jains were also present in smaller numbers. Tamil is spoken by most, with the standard dialect of Tamil spoken being the Madurai Tamil dialect. Saurashtrian, another common language in the city, is the mother tongue of the Patnūlkarars who migrated from Gujarat in the 16th century CE. Roman Catholics in Madurai are affiliated to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madurai while Protestants are affiliated to the Madurai-Ramnad Diocese of the Church of South India.
In 2001, 12.08 per cent of the population of Madurai under the Madurai corporation limits were under the age of 6. There were 87 per cent literates and 13 per cent illiterates in the city. There were a total of 215,265 households in the city. Under 6 per cent of the workforce was involved in agriculture as cultivators or agricultural labourers. Madurai had a literacy rate of 83.19 per cent while the effective literacy rate was 91.42 per cent. 303,141 people were living in 208 slums having 60,527 households located in various parts of the city in 2001. It comprises 32.6 per cent of the total population, much higher than the national average of 15.05 per cent.
The increase in growth rate to 50 per cent from 1971 to 1981 is due to upgradation of the city to a municipal corporation in 1974 and subsequent inclusion of 13 Panchayats into the corporation limits. The decline in the population growth rate between 1981 and 2001 is due to bifurcation of Madurai district into two, Madurai and Dindigul in 1984 and subsequently into part of Theni district in 1997. The compounded annual growth rate reduced from 4.10 per cent during 1971–81 to 1.27 per cent during 1991–2004.
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