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 said.
Population of Sri Lanka is still growing but at a lesser rate, the report said.
The Department of Census and Statistics conducted the first island-wide population and housing census after thirty years: the last survey done 10 years ago did not include the areas where the LTTE operated, and prevented the census being held.
Census 2001 covered only 18 districts of the country. However, compared to the estimated total population of the Census 2001, population has increased by 1,480,340 which is an increase of 7.9 per cent.
Major share of 28.8 per cent of the population live in the Western province while only 5.2 per cent of the total population live in the Northern Province.
Out of the 25 districts, two districts reported more than 2 million population. Colombo district reported the highest of 2,323,826 while, Gampaha district reported the second largest population of 2,298,588.
Other than Colombo and Gampaha districts, 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 (92,228) district reported the lowest population followed by Mannar (99,063) district. Only these two districts reported a population of less than 100,000.
During the period 2001 and 2012, districts in the Dry Zone reported the highest average annual population growth rates as in previous censuses.
The highest average annual population growth rate of 1.33 per cent was reported from Anuradhapura district, followed by Hambantota (1.17 per cent), Monaragala (1.15 per cent), Polonnaruwa (1.11 per cent), Kurunegala (0.93 per cent), Ampara (0.81 per cent), and Puttalam (0.66 per cent) districts, in the Dry Zone.
Kalutara (1.23 per cent) and Gampaha (1.02 Per cent) of the Western Province reported relatively higher population growth rates. This may be due to the fact that in‐ migrants to 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, the report further said.
Nuwara‐Eliya and Badulla, which represent the upcountry estate sector reported low growth rates of 0.05 per cent and 0.37 per cent respectively. Lack of employment generation 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 sq. km, followed by the adjoining Gampaha district with 1,714 persons per sq. km.
All districts in the Northern Province except Jaffna district and Monaragala district in the Uva Province have population densities of less than 100 persons per sq. km. Districts in North Central Province as well as Trincomalee and Ampara districts in the Eastern Province have recorded population densities of less than 200 persons per sq. km.
At the time of the 1981 Census, Vavuniya district recorded the lowest population density of 39 persons per sq. km while in this Census, adjoining Mullaitivu district reported the lowest population density of 38 persons per sq. km.
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