12 October 2001


Press Release



Three Quarters of World’s People Live in Twenty-Five Countries

The latest edition of the United Nations Demographic Yearbook, a unique international source of population information for more than 233 countries or areas of the world, has now been published.  This fifty-first edition -– for the year 1999 -- provides population information reported by national statistical offi1ces covering such areas as population size, composition, fertility and mortality.  The 609-page volume includes a detailed set of technical notes and footnotes explaining the data source, its availability, timeliness, quality, reliability and coverage of national information.  Primary data sources of countries or areas reported in the Yearbook are population and housing censuses, population and household surveys, and population-related statistics from national administrative recording systems.

Population Size, Density and Growth

Population figures from the latest available census are provided by

233 countries or areas; 36 of these did not provide the breakdown by sex.  Mid-year estimates are presented for 224 countries or areas (96 per cent); annual rate of population increase or decrease is available for 205 (88 per cent) and information on density for 221 (95 per cent).  About 75 per cent of countries or areas provided data on population by age and sex, and slightly more than half reported urban and rural population sizes. 

Coverage of Natality and Mortality

About 90 per cent of the countries or areas reported live births, and

15 per cent (34 countries or areas) provided data by urban/rural residence. Approximately half of the countries and areas reported the number of live births by age of mother; and another 39 per cent reported the number of live births according to sex of infant; 29 per cent by urban/rural residence.

Total deaths were reported by 145 countries or areas (63 per cent); of which 125 countries or areas provided data on deaths by age and sex and 56 provided by urban/rural residence.  National estimates of life expectancy at specified ages for each sex were reported by 188 countries or areas (82 per cent).

Infant deaths were reported by 58 per cent of countries or areas, and according to urban/rural residence for 21 per cent.  Infant mortality by age and sex are shown for 45 per cent of the countries or areas and for less than 1 per cent according to urban/rural residence.  One out of five countries or areas reported national data on legally induced abortions.  Maternal deaths and maternal mortality rates are shown for approximately one third of all countries or areas.

Nuptiality and Divorces

National data on marriages were reported by 129 countries or areas, of which 43 provided data by urban/rural residence.  Marriages by age of groom and age of bride were reported by 79 countries or areas.  In all, 105 countries or areas reported on the number of divorces.

Statistical Information Provided

The Demographic Yearbook 1999 provides a world summary of basic demographic statistics, followed by tables presenting statistics on the size distribution and trends in population, natality, mortality, nuptiality and divorce.

Highlights from the 1999 Yearbook include:

Life Expectancy

-- In 22 countries or areas, females have an average life expectancy at birth of at least 80 years.  Japan (84 years) shows the longest life expectancy for women in the world, followed by China-Hong Kong region (82.6), France and Martinique (82.0), Switzerland (81.9), Sweden (81.8), Spain (81.6), Iceland and Norway (81.3), Australia and Italy (81.0), Canada, Austria and Guadeloupe (80.9), Finland (80.8), Netherlands (80.7), Belgium (80.6), Greece (80.5), Israel (80.4), Malta (80.1), and China-Macao region and Cyprus (80.0).

-- Fourteen countries or areas of the world reported that men are expected, on the average, to live 75 years or more.  Japan and China-Hong Kong region recorded the longest life expectancy for males (77.2) followed by Sweden (76.7), Iceland (76.4), Israel (76.0), Switzerland (75.7), Martinique and Norway (75.5), Netherlands (75.4), Greece (75.3), Australia and Singapore (75.2), China-Macao region (75.1) and Cyprus (75.0).

-- Life expectancies reported by countries in Africa remain lower than those reported by countries in other parts of the world.  However, females in Algeria, Cape Verde, Libya, Mauritius, Réunion, and Tunisia have an expectation of life at birth in excess of 70 years.  Average life expectancy for males is reported to be less than 50 years in 27 African countries or areas, and for females in

19 countries or areas.  It exceeds 50 years for men in the remaining 26 countries or areas, and for women in the remaining 34 countries or areas.

-- Among the 25 largest countries, the gap in average life expectancy between women and men is largest in the Russian Federation (13.4 years), Ukraine (10.8 years) and France (7.8 years).  The gap is the smallest in Iran (1.5 years), and India (0.6 years).  In Bangladesh life expectancy for males exceeds that for females by 0.4 years.

Infant Mortality

Infant mortality rates are reported or the number of deaths of infants

under one year of age per 1,000 live births.  The lowest reported infant mortality rates were for China-Hong Kong region (3.1), Sweden and Switzerland (3.4), Singapore (3.5), Japan (3.6), Norway (4.0), Denmark and Finland (4.2),

Austria (4.4), Germany (4.5), Czech Republic (4.6), France (4.8), Spain (4.9),  and Netherlands (5.0).

Most Populous Nations

The 25 most populous countries reported in the Yearbook in 1999 are estimated to contain about 75 per cent of the world population.  They are ranked below by size of population, most recent total fertility rate and life expectancy at birth for men and women.


of life at birth

Range      Country           Population        TFR         Male        Female

(in thousands)

  1         China             1,266,838         1.8         68.7        73.0

  2         India               986,611         3.1         62.3        62.9

  3         United States       273,131         2.0         73.6        79.2

  4         Indonesia           207,437         2.6         63.3        67.0

  5         Brazil              165,371         2.3         64.7        70.9

  6         Russian Federation  145,559         1.3         58.3        71.7

  7         Pakistan            134,510         5.0         62.9        65.1

  8         Bangladesh          126,947         3.1         58.1        58.2

  9         Japan               126,505         1.4         77.2        84.0

 10         Nigeria             108,945         5.2         48.7        51.5

 11         Mexico               97,365         2.8         69.5        75.5

 12         Germany              82,087         1.4         73.3        79.7

 13         Viet Nam             78,705         2.6         64.9        69.6

 14         Philippines          74,746         3.6         66.5        70.2

 15         Egypt                67,226         3.7         65.2        69.0

 16         Turkey               64,385         2.4         66.5        71.7

 17         Iran                 62,746         2.8         68.5        70.0

 18         Thailand             61,806         1.7         65.8        72.0

 19         Ethiopia             61,672         6.3         42.4        44.3

 20         France               59,099         1.7         74.2        82.0

 21         United Kingdom       58,744         1.7         74.7        79.6

 22         Italy                57,343         1.2         74.6        81.0

23                                    Democratic

Rep. of the Congo   50,335         6.4         49.2        52.3

 24         Ukraine              50,106         1.2         62.7        73.5

 25         Republic of

Korea                46,858         1.7         68.8        76.0

* *** *

NOTE:  Demographic Yearbook 1999 (Sales No. E/F.01.XIII.1) may be ordered from the

 Sales Section, United Nations, New York or Geneva, or through major

 booksellers throughout the world.  The price is $100 (price in other

 currencies may vary).  A reference copy may be consulted by accredited

 correspondents at the press documents counter at Headquarters.   The United

 Nations Statistics Division home page is http://www.un.org/depts/unsd.

For information media. Not an official record.