In the 2001 census, they numbered 336,436 in West Bengal, accounting for 7.6 per cent of the scheduled caste population of the state. In Odisha, Bhumijes had a population ranging from 248,144 to 321,592 and were among the twelve most populous tribes. In Jharkhand Bhumijes were one the eight most populous tribes, their population ranging between 164,022 and 192,024.
Bhumij means one who is born from the soil. They form one of the Hinduised Adivasi groups in Jharkhand. Bhumij Kols have adopted the surname 'Singh.'
In the western districts of West Bengal, there are prominent groups of Bhumijes, although numerically they are considerably behind the Santals and Bauris. They live in the territory between the Kasai and Subarnarekha rivers. In olden days they probably had settlements north of the Kasai, possibly right up to Panchakot, but were pushed back by the Aryans, represented by the Kurmis. Their present area of settlement is spread across Dhalbhum, Barabhum, Patkum and Baghmundi.
While those living nearer to Chota Nagpur Plateau still retain linguistic links with Mundari, those living deeper east have adopted Bengali as their language. In the Dhalbhum region they are completely Hinduized. During British rule, or sometimes even earlier, many of the Bhumijes became zamindars and some even secured the title of Raja. Others were called Sardars. However, all of them, having climbed the social ladder, proclaimed themselves to be Kshatriyas, in keeping with the trends in the region, ignorant of their rich contribution to the traditions and culture of the region.