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Patel is an Indian surname originally representing a community of agriculturalists and merchants, predominantly in the states of Gujarat, India. Once considered to be a status name of Hindu and Parsi origin referring to village headsmen during medieval ages, the surname was later adopted by the Patidar community of land owners.[1] Today, there are currently two major branches of people bearing the surname: Leuva and Kadva.[2][3] The branches Gujarati are distinguished mainly by geographic location and varying cultural practices. Today the surname is used by Hindus and some Muslims.[4] There are roughly 500,000 Patels outside India, including 150,000 in Britain and 150,000 in the US.[5] Nearly 1 in 10 people of Indian origin in the US is a Patel.[5]


The term patel derives from the word community Patidar, literally "one who holds (owned) pieces of land called patis", implying a higher economic status than that of the landless.[6]

Geographical distribution[edit]


The surname historically originated in the Indian state of Gujarat, where it is among the most common of surnames.[7] Today, the name can be found in a wide variety of regions in India, as well as several other countries. As of 2014, 80.8% of all known bearers of the surname Patel were residents of India, where the incidence of this surname is 3,957,109, and 73.2% of the people with this surname in India are from Gujarat. The incidence, frequency and rank of the surname in the top ten states is the following:[8]

Place Incidence Frequency Rank in Area
Gujarat 2,898,368 1:21 1
Maharashtra 415,182 1:271 23
Uttar Pradesh 138,729 1:1,439 54
Odisha 131,200 1:320 46
Bihar 124,545 1:833 61
Madhya Pradesh 54,956 1:1,321 13
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 35,027 1:10 1
Daman and Diu 30,510 1:8 1
Karnataka 25,029 1:2,442 53
Telangana 14,103 1:2,502 186

Overseas Diaspora[edit]

The following table lists the incidence, frequency and rank of this surname in the top ten countries outside India as of 2014:[8]

Country Incidence Frequency Rank in Nation
United States 202,930 1: 1,578 120
England 162,391 1: 333 6
Kenya 76,507 1: 595 69
Pakistan 61,856 1: 3,040 419
Uganda 60,493 1:584 31
Malawi 51,100 1:329 22
South Africa 38,610 1: 1,399 148
Democratic Republic of The Congo 38,415 1: 1,806 166
Canada 31,235 1: 1,134 66
Saudi Arabia 21,932 1: 1,368 113

East Africa[edit]

Thousands of Hindu Gujaratis left India between 1880 - 1920 and migrated to British colonies in the African Great Lakes region of Uganda, Kenya and Tanganyika.[9] A significant number of these came from the Patidar, Koli Patel and Lohana communities.[10].The immigrants who arrived with the British were the first ones to open up businesses in rural Kenya a century ago.The population of asian and Patels started declining after the independence of East African countries in the 1960s. At that time the majority of Gujaratis opted for British citizenship and eventually moved there.Baloobhai Patel is a businessman who has contributed to the development of these countries.[11]

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, Patel was found to be the most common Indian surname, with over 100,000 bearers of the name in 2011.[12] In the UK, Patel is currently the second most common physician surname, behind Khan.[13] In UK,the surname is used by both the members of the Patidar community as well as the Surati or Koli Patel community. Most of the Patels and other Gujaratis in UK are immigrants from East africa or are descendents of these immigrants.

United States[edit]

Immigration of Indians to the United States started in earnest after the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Many of the new immigrants worked in blue collar jobs and used their savings up to buy property, which they in turn transformed into businesses.[14] As many as 50% of mid-sized motels and hotel properties across US are owned by people of Indian origin. Of this, majority of them bear the surname Patel.[15][16] It is currently estimated that Indians own nearly 22,000 motels and hotels across the U.S., valued collectively at $128 billion.[17] In the 2000 United States Census, Patel ranked as the 172nd most common surname, with 145,000 people living in the U.S. bearing the name. The rank showed a drastic rise from the 1990 census, where the name ranked at 591.[18] At the time of the 2010 census, it climbed to the 95th position among all surnames in the U.S., with 229,973 people bearing the name.[19] Modern Patel communities have branched out of agriculture to a variety of trades, including healthcare, pharmaceuticals, politics, business and hotel management. Since the 1970s, Patel has been the most common surname among physicians in the United States, surpassing Lee and Smith.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'Patel', the most common Indian surname: Oxford". The Hindu. PTI. 2016-11-18. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  2. ^ Koli Patel
  3. ^ patel, anoop. "The Gujarat Model That Did Not Work for the Patidars". The Citizen. Retrieved 2017-01-26. 
  4. ^ Sheikh,, Aziz; Gatrad, Abdul Rashid (2000). Caring for Muslim Patients edited by Aziz Sheikh, Abdul Rashid Gatrad. Oxford: Radcliffe Medical Press Limited. p. 65. ISBN 1 857 75372 0. 
  5. ^ a b Rajghatta, Chidanand (June 4, 2015). "Global Gujaratis: Now in 129 nations". The Times of India. 
  6. ^ Basu, Pratyusha (2009). Villages, women, and the success of dairy cooperatives in India: making place for rural development. Cambria Press. pp. 51–55. ISBN 978-1-60497-625-0. Retrieved 6 August 2016. 
  7. ^ Washburn, Edward (2005). India Old and New: With a Memorial Address. p. 178. ISBN 0-543-99414-7. 
  8. ^ a b Patel Surname Distribution
  9. ^ Oonk, G.. (2004). "The Changing Culture of Hindu Lohanas in East Africa" (PDF). Contemporary Asians Studies. 13: 83–97. 
  10. ^ Herbert, J. (2004). Contested terrains: negotiating ethnic boundaries in the city of Leicester since 1950 (Doctoral dissertation, History). p. 25. 
  11. ^ "The rise and rise of Kenya's silent billionaires at NSE". Business daily Africa. Retrieved 7 February 2015. Baloobhai Patel, a director of Pan Africa Insurance, is invariably listed as one of the largest individual shareholders of more than 10 companies on the Nairobi bourse. The 75-year-old has major interests in Pan Africa Insurance, Barclays, Bamburi, DTB, Mumias Sugar, and Safaricom currently valued at Sh2.4 billion. 
  12. ^ "'Patel', the most common Indian surname: Oxford". The Hindu. PTI. 2016-11-18. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  13. ^ "Asian surname Khan is most common among doctors with Patel in second". Mail Online. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  14. ^ Skop, Emily (2007). "Asian Indians and the Construction of Community and Identity". In Ines M. Miyares, Christopher A. Airriess. Contemporary ethnic geographies in America. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 271–90 [277]. ISBN 978-0-7425-3772-9. Retrieved 13 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Kamdar, Mira (2007). Planet India: how the fastest-growing democracy is transforming America and the world. Simon and Schuster. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-7432-9685-4. 
  16. ^ Ungar, Sanford J. (1998). Fresh blood: the new American immigrants. U of Illinois Press. p. 32. ISBN 978-0-252-06702-0. 
  17. ^ "Powerful Patels: A Look Into the Quiet Community of U.S. Hotel Owners". Commercial Observer. 2016-11-02. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  18. ^ "Patel, most common Indian surname in US | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dna. 2007-11-19. Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  19. ^ Promotions, Center for New Media and. "US Census Bureau 2010 Census". Retrieved 2018-02-15. 
  20. ^ "This is now the most popular last name in medicine". Retrieved 2018-02-15.