Sikh population

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Numbering approximately 23 million worldwide, the Sikhs are adherents to the fifth largest organized religion in the world, Sikhism. The Sikhs make up 0.39%[1] of the world population of which approximately 83% live in India. Of the Indian Sikh community 14.6 million, i.e. 76% of all Indian Sikhs, live in the northern Indian State of Punjab (India), where they form a majority 59.9% of the population. Substantial communities of Sikhs, i.e. greater than 200,000, live in the Indian States/Union territories of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh,Maharashtra, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir[2].

Sikh migration from the then British India began in earnest from the 2nd half of the 19th century when the British had completed their annexation of the Punjab. Having annexed the Sikh Kingdom, the British Raj preferentially recruited Sikhs in the Indian Civil Service and, in particular, the British Indian Army, which led to migration of Sikhs to different parts of British India and the British Empire[3]. Semiskilled Sikh artisans were well represented in those who were transported from the Punjab to British East Africa to help in the building of strategic railways built to provide protection to the Panama canal.

After World War II, Sikhs emigrated from India and a few years later, many more were pushed - homeless from the 'killing fields' of West Punjab, which became Pakistan, with most going to the United Kingdom but many also headed for North America. Many Sikhs who had settled in eastern Africa were expelled when Ugandan dictator Idi Amin expelled all Asians siezing their property and businesses in 1972.[4]. As one can see, the main factor driving Sikh migration has been one of economics with significant Sikh communities now being found in Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Malaysia, East Africa, Australasia and Thailand.

While the rate of Sikh migration from the Punjab has remained high, traditional patterns of Sikh migration, that favored English speaking countries, particularly the United Kingdom have changed in the past decade due to factors such as stricter immigration procedures.


  1. ^ CIA Factbook [1]
  2. ^ Break down of Indian Sikh population by Indian States/Union territories [2]
  3. ^ Diffusion of Sikhism and recent migration patterns of Sikhs in India by A. K. Dutt1 and S. Devgun. Pub. GeoJournal Volume 1, Number 5 / September,1977.Pp 81-89. Available online [3]
  4. ^ Sikhism. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 12 Sept. 2007 [4]