Jun 27, Colombo: Sri Lanka's population grew only by 0.7 percent over the last ten years to a total of 20,277,597, the Preliminary Report of the 2011 Census of Population and Housing released to the Sri Lankan President Tuesday said.
The report of the 'Census of Population and Housing 2011', carried out between 27 February and 21 March, 2012 presents the population of Sri Lanka, its growth, and the distribution of the population by district, based on the information gathered at the Census.
Superintendent of Census and Director General of Census and Statistics, Suranjana Vidyaratne handed over the preliminary report to President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday (26) at the Temple Trees.
Releasing the report, Vidyaratne said the information collected at this Census will be of immense use to plan development activities in the country especially because the census covered the entire country after a lapse of 30 years.
The last census carried out in 2001 covered only 18 districts out of the 25 districts in Sri Lanka. However, compared to the estimated total population of the Census 2001, population has increased by 1,480,340, an increase of 7.9 per cent.
Although the population is still growing, the growth is slower within the last decade compared to the three decades since last comprehensive census in 1981.
Average annual population growth rate between 1981 and 2012 stood at 1.0 percent, while the rat between the period of 2001 and 2012 was reported as 0.7.
According to the preliminary report a majority, 28.8 percent of the population live in the Western province while only 5.2 percent of the total population live in the Northern Province.
Colombo and Gampaha districts were the most populated with over 2 million living in each district. Colombo district reported the highest of 2,323,826 while, Gampaha district reported the second largest population of 2,298,588.
Kurunegala (1,611,407), Kandy (1,368,216), Kalutara (1,214,880), Ratnapura (1,082,299), and Galle (1,059,046) districts reported population more than a million in each of them.
Mullaitivu and Mannar districts recoded the lowest population with each reporting leass than 100,000 people. Mullaitivu district has the lowest population with 92,228 followed by Mannar with 99,063 people.
During the 10-year period from 2001 and 2012, the highest average annual population growth rate of 1.33 per cent was reported from Anuradhapura district.
The department attributed the relatively high growth rates of Kalutara (1.23 percent) and Gampaha (1.02 percent) districts of the Western Province to the fact that immigrants to the Western Province opting to settle down in Gampaha and Kalutara districts.
Migration from other districts to the Free Trade Zones in Katunayake and Biyagama has contributed to the population growth visible in Gampaha district.
Nuwara‐Eliya and Badulla districts, which represent the upcountry estate sector reported low growth rates of 0.05 per cent and 0.37 per cent respectively. Lack of employment generations in estates, return to their original homes of those who have moved due to conflict situations in the Northern parts may be some possible reasons for this decline of population growth rates.
Similar to previous censuses, Colombo district reported the highest population density of 3,438 persons per square kilometer. The next highest population density of 1,714 persons per square kilometer was reported from the adjoining Gampaha district.
Coastal districts in the South‐West from Kalutara, Galle to Matara, Kandy District in the Central Province and Jaffna district in the Northern Province have reported population densities of more than 600 persons per square kilometer while all districts in the Northern Province except Jaffna district and Moneragala district in the Uva Province have population density of less than 100 persons per square kilometer.
Mullaitivu district, where the demining of some areas are yet to be completed reported the lowest population density in the country with 38 persons per square kilometer.
(Photos by Nalin Hewapathirana)