Telugu people
Telugu vāru
తెలుగు వారు
Telugu talli bomma.JPG
Telugu Thalli, the personification of Telugu language
Total population
c. 83 million[1][2]
(native speakers)
Regions with significant populations
Andhra Pradesh
 India81,127,740 (2011)[2]
 United States446,000[1][3]
 Saudi Arabia377,000[4]
 United Kingdom33,000[10]
 New Zealand5,754[13]
 South Africa5,000[14]
OtherSee Telugu diaspora
Star and Crescent.svg
Dharma Wheel.svg
Related ethnic groups
Other Dravidian peoples:

Telugu people (Telugu: తెలుగువారు, romanizedTeluguvāru), also called Telugus or Telugu vaaru, are an ethnolinguistic group who speak the Telugu language and are native to the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and the Yanam district of Puducherry. They are the largest of the four major Dravidian groups in terms of population. Telugu is the fourth most spoken language in India[15][16] and the 15th most spoken language in the world.[17]

A significant number of Telugus also reside as linguistic minorities in the Indian states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh as well in the union territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Members of the Telugu diaspora are spread across countries like United States, Australia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mauritius, UAE, Saudi Arabia and others.[18][19] Telugu is the fastest-growing foreign language in the United States.[20]

Telugus claim descent from the Andhras, from whom the Telugus inherit their ethnonym.[21][22][23] According to Aitareya Brahmana (c. 800 BCE) of the Rigveda, the Andhras left North India from the banks of river Yamuna and migrated to South India.[24][25][26] They are mentioned at the time of the death of the Mauryan King Ashoka in 232 BCE. This date has been considered to be the beginning of the Andhra historical record.

During the rise of Nastika Schools of Buddhism and Jainism in the region, Telugus, along with most of India, saw a reformation of their traditional high society. Mahayana Buddhism, which would later go on to become the largest Buddhist tradition in the world, developed among Telugus in Andhra.[27][28][29][30] Telangani, a term referring to a Telugu or a resident in the land inhabited by Telugus came into common usage during the 14th century CE.[31][32][33][34]


Main article: Telugu language

Andhra (Telugu: ఆంధ్ర) was a kingdom mentioned in the epic Mahabharata. It was a southern kingdom, currently identified as Indian state of Andhra Pradesh where it got its name from.

Andhra communities are also mentioned in the Vayu and Matsya Purana. In the Mahabharata the infantry of Satyaki was composed by a tribe called Andhras, known for their long hair, tall stature, sweet language, and mighty prowess. They lived along the banks of the Godavari river. Andhras and Kalingas supported the Kauravas during the Mahabharata war. Sahadeva defeated the kingdoms of Pandya, Andhra, Kalinga, Dravida, Odra and Chera while performing the Rajasuya yajna. Buddhist references to Andhras are also found.[35][36][37]

Andhra was mentioned in the Sanskrit sources such as Aitareya Brahmana (c. 800 BCE). According to Aitareya Brahmana of the Rigveda, the Andhras left North India from the banks of river Yamuna and migrated to South India.[24][25][26] They are mentioned at the time of the death of the great Mauryan King Ashoka in 232 BCE. This date has been considered to be the beginning of the Andhra historical record. Various dynasties have ruled the area, including the Andhra (or Satavahana), Andhra Ikshvakus, Eastern Chalukyas, the Kakatiyas, the Vijayanagara Empire.[38]

Telugu is a South-Central Dravidian language primarily spoken in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, India, where it is the official language. The oldest inscriptions with Telugu words date to 400 BCE found at Bhattiprolu in Guntur district.[39] Other early inscriptions with more refined language were found in Kantamanenivarigudem, Guntupalli in West Godavari district and Gummadidurru and Ghantasala in Krishna district. The earliest inscription completely written in Telugu dates to 575 CE were found at Kalamalla village in Kadapa district.[39] The earliest Telugu literature dates to 11th century CE with Nannaya's Andhra Mahabharatam.

In the sixth century BCE, Assaka was one of the Sixteen Mahajanapadas. After the Mauryas, parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana were variously ruled by dynasties either ethnically Telugus. It was succeeded by the Satavahana dynasty (230 BCE-220 CE), who built the city of Amaravati. The kingdom reached its zenith under Gautamiputra Satakarni. At the end of the period, the Telugu region was divided into Kingdoms ruled by lords. In the late second century CE, the Andhra Ikshvakus ruled the eastern region along the Krishna River. The Vishnukundina Dynasty, Eastern Chalukyas, Kakatiya Dynasty and Reddy dynasty were some of the many Major Telugu Kingdoms and Dynasties Ruling the Region.

During the fourth century, the Pallava dynasty extended their rule from southern Andhra Pradesh to Tamilakam and established their capital at Kanchipuram. Their power increased during the reigns of Mahendravarman I (571–630) and Narasimhavarman I (630–668). The Pallavas dominated the southern Telugu-speaking region and northern Tamilakam until the end of the ninth century.

Between 1163 and 1323 the Kakatiya dynasty emerged, bringing the Telugu region under unified rule. During this period, the Telugu language emerged as a literary medium with the writings of Tikkana, Eranna, Nannaya, Pothana etc., are the converters of the great Hindu epics like Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bhagavatha etc.,.

In 1323 the sultan of Delhi, Ghiyath al-Din Tughluq, sent a large army commanded by Ulugh Khan (later, as Muhammad bin Tughluq, the Delhi sultan) to conquer the Telugu region and lay siege to Warangal. The fall of the Kakatiya dynasty led to an era with competing influences from the Turkic kingdoms of Delhi, the Chalukya Chola dynasty (1070–1279) in the south and the Persio-Tajik sultanate of central India. The struggle for Andhra ended with the victory of the Musunuri Nayaks over the Turkic Delhi Sultanate.

The Telugu achieved independence under Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagara Empire (1336–1646). The Qutb Shahi dynasty of the Bahmani Sultanate succeeded that empire. The Qutub Shahis were tolerant of Telugu culture from the early 16th to the end of the 17th centuries.

The arrival of Europeans (the French under the Marquis de Bussy-Castelnau and the English under Robert Clive) altered polity of the region . In 1765, Clive and the chief and council at Visakhapatnam obtained the Northern Circars from Mughal emperor Shah Alam. The British achieved supremacy when they defeated Maharaja Vijaya Rama Gajapati Raju of Vizianagaram in 1792.

Andhra's modern foundation was laid in the struggle for Indian independence under Mohandas Gandhi. Potti Sreeramulu's campaign for a state independent of the Madras Presidency and Tanguturi Prakasam Panthulu and Kandukuri Veeresalingam's social-reform movements led to the formation of Andhra State, with Kurnool its capital and freedom-fighter Pantullu its first chief minister. A democratic society, with two stable political parties and a modern economy, emerged under the Chief Ministership of N. T. Rama Rao.

India became independent from the United Kingdom in 1947. Although the Muslim Nizam of Hyderabad wanted to retain independence from India, he was forced to cede his kingdom to the Dominion of India in 1948 to form Hyderabad State. Andhra, the first Indian state formed primarily on a linguistic basis, was carved from the Madras Presidency in 1953. In 1956, Andhra State was merged with the Telugu-speaking portion of Hyderabad State to create the state of Andhra Pradesh. The Lok Sabha approved the formation of Telangana from ten districts of Andhra Pradesh on 18 February 2014.[40]


Two Kuchipudi dancers from Andhra Pradesh, 2011
Two Kuchipudi dancers from Andhra Pradesh, 2011

Main articles: Culture of Andhra Pradesh and Culture of Telangana


Main article: Telugu literature


Kuchipudi is a famous Classical Indian dance from Andhra Pradesh.


  1. Uttareeyam (Uttariya) or Pai Pancha (Angvastram or veil)
  2. Pancha (Dhoti)
  3. Jubba (Kurta) The top portion
  4. Lungi (Casual dress)
  1. Langa voni (Half sari)
  2. Pattu pavada
  3. Cheera (sari)


See also: List of festivals in Andhra Pradesh

Important festivals celebrated by Telugu people include:



Telugu is the fourth most spoken language after Hindi, Bengali and Marathi in India.[15] Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are the principal resident states for Telugu people.

Telugu people form the majority speakers in South India with over 75 million speakers in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. This is followed by 3.7 million in Karnataka and 4.2 million in Tamil Nadu making them the second largest language groups in those neighbouring states.[41]

In Tamil Nadu, Telugu people who migrated during the Vijayanagara period have spread across several northern districts and constitute a significant percentage of the population in Chennai city. In Karnataka, Telugu people are predominantly found in the border districts with majority in Bengaluru city.

In Maharashtra, the Telugu population is over 1.4 million, followed by 0.7 million in Orissa. Other states with significant populations include West Bengal, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat with 200,000, 150,000 and 100,000 respectively.[41]

The overseas Telugu diaspora numbers more than 400,000 in the United States, with the highest concentration in Central New Jersey, Texas, and California.[citation needed]

There are around 300,000 Telugu people in Malaysia.[42] Telugu people in Myanmar number over 200,000.[43]

Notable Telugu people

Main article: List of Telugu people

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Telugu population figure worldwide". Ethnologue. March 2023.
  2. ^ a b "Scheduled Languages in descending order of speaker's strength - 2011" (PDF). Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India.
  3. ^ "Almost Half Speak a Foreign Language in America's Largest Cities". 19 September 2018.
  4. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Saudi Arabia". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  5. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Myanmar (Burma)". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  6. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Malaysia". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  7. ^ "Language spoken at home | Australia | Community profile". .id (informed decisions). Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  8. ^ "Knowledge of languages by age and gender: Canada, provinces and territories, census divisions and census subdivisions". Census Profile, 2021 Census. Statistics Canada Statistique Canada. 7 May 2021. Retrieved 3 January 2023.
  9. ^ "In Dhaka Telugu Christians from Andhra Pradesh celebrate Christmas in extreme poverty". AsiaNews. 18 December 2018.
  10. ^ "Language, England and Wales: Census 2021". Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 10 March 2023.
  11. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Fiji". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  12. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in Mauritius". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  13. ^ "2018 Census totals by topic – national highlights (updated)". Statistics New Zealand. 30 April 2020. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  14. ^ "Telugu-speaking South Asian in South Africa". Joshua Project. Retrieved 11 March 2023.
  15. ^ a b "Nearly 60% of Indians speak a language other than Hindi". The Times of India.
  16. ^ "What Languages Are Spoken in India?". WorldAtlas. Retrieved 4 February 2021.
  17. ^ Ltd, Libros Media. "15 most spoken languages". Rocket Languages. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  18. ^ Oonk, Gijsbert (2007). Global Indian Diasporas: Exploring Trajectories of Migration and Theory. Amsterdam University Press. pp. 92–116. ISBN 978-90-5356-035-8. Archived from the original on 13 October 2022. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  19. ^ Rajan, S. Irudaya; Saxena, Prem (10 October 2019). India's Low-Skilled Migration to the Middle East: Policies, Politics and Challenges. Springer Nature. ISBN 978-981-13-9224-5. Archived from the original on 13 October 2022. Retrieved 14 August 2022.
  20. ^ "Do you speak Telugu? Welcome to America". BBC News. 20 October 2018. Archived from the original on 13 December 2019. Retrieved 12 August 2022.
  21. ^ Ancient and medieval history of Andhra Pradesh. P. Raghunadha Rao. Sterling Publishers, 1993. 1993. p. iv. ISBN 9788120714953. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  22. ^ "History of Andhra Pradesh". Government of Andhra Pradesh. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 16 July 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2012.
  23. ^ Sailendra Nath Sen (1999). Ancient Indian History and Civilization. New Age International. pp. 172–176. ISBN 9788122411980. Archived from the original on 23 March 2017. Retrieved 29 January 2017.
  24. ^ a b Dance Dialects of India. Ragini Devi. Motilal Bansarsi Dass. 1990. ISBN 81-208-0674-3. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
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  26. ^ a b Ancient and medieval history of Andhra Pradesh. P. Raghunadha Rao. Sterling Publishers, 1993. 1993. p. iv. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  27. ^ Guang Xing. The Concept of the Buddha: Its Evolution from Early Buddhism to the Trikaya Theory. 2004. pp. 65–66 "Several scholars have suggested that the Prajñāpāramitā probably developed among the Mahasamghikas in Southern India, in the Andhra country, on the Krishna River."
  28. ^ Williams, Paul. Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations 2nd edition. Routledge, 2009, p. 47.
  29. ^ Drewes, David, Early Indian Mahayana Buddhism I: Recent Scholarship, Religion Compass 4/2 (2010): 55–65,
  30. ^ "The south (of India) was then vigorously creative in producing Mahayana Sutras" – Warder, A.K. (3rd edn. 1999). Indian Buddhism: p. 335.
  31. ^ Parpola, Asko (2015), The Roots of Hinduism: The Early Aryans and the Indus Civilization, Oxford University Press, p. 167, ISBN 978-0190226923
  32. ^ Rao, Raja M. Bhujanga; P. Chenchiah (1988). A History of Telugu Literature. Asian Educational Services. p. 55. ISBN 978-81-206-0313-4.
  33. ^ Brown, Charles P. (1839), "Essay on the Language and Literature of Telugus", Madras Journal of Literature and Science, vol. X, Vepery mission Press., p. 53
  34. ^ Caldwell, Robert (1856), A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South-Indian Family of Languages (PDF), London: Harrison, p. 64
  35. ^ Śrīhari, R. (1 January 1987). Proceedings of the Andhra Pradesh Oriental Conference: Fourth session, Nagarjuna University, Guntur, 3rd to 5th March 1984. The Conference.
  36. ^ Journal of Indian History. University of Kerala. 1 January 1949.
  37. ^ Datta, Manmathanatha (1 January 1897). A Prose English Translation of the Mahabharata: (tr. Literally from the Original Sanskrit Text). H.C. Dass.
  38. ^ Andhra Pradesh - MSN Encarta. Archived from the original on 28 October 2009.
  39. ^ a b "Telugu is 2,400 years old, says ASI". The Hindu. 20 December 2007. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
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  41. ^ a b "Kannadigas outnumber Malayalis 2:1 in Tamil Nadu". The Times of India. 15 April 2008. Archived from the original on 13 November 2011. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
  42. ^ Satyanarayana, Adapa (2008). "Proceedings of the Indian History Congress Vol. 69 : Telugu Diaspora in South East/West Asia, 1871-1990". Indian History Congress. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  43. ^ "'Telugu population dwindling in Myanmar'". The Hindu. 4 March 2018. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 11 March 2023.