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National population increasing by 1,045 since 2006

NUKU΄ALOFA, Tonga (Matangi Tonga, Dec. 23, 2011) - Tonga's outer island populations are decreasing, although the national population has increased by 1,045 people since 2006, a preliminary count of Tonga's National Population and Housing Census for 2011 shows.

In releasing the preliminary figures on December 21, the Government Statistician said that the census accounted for 103,036 people in Tonga, "an annual increase of 0.2 percent from 101,991 people recorded in the population census of 2006."

Tongatapu has 73 percent (75,158) of the population, followed by Vava'u 15 percent (14,938), Ha'apai 7 percent (6,650), 'Eua 5 percent (5,011), and Ongo Niua 1 percent (1,281).

While Tongatapu has gained 3,113 people since the last count, the two Niuas in the far north of Tonga showed a major decrease with a 5.5 percent loss of population (or 384 people) since 2006.

The population loss in the Niuas has been a continuing trend since 1986 when the population peaked at 2,368, but the percentage loss was more significant in the 2011 census, and showed the remaining population after a major tsunami devastated Niuatoputapu in September 2009. There are 168 households remaining on Niuatoputapu, compared to 210 households in 2006. This includes Tafahi, which now has only 13 households.

Niuafo'ou has 114 remaining households, compared to 139 households in 2006. The biggest percentage decline was in Kolofo'ou district in Niuafo'ou with a loss of 47.8 percent.

The Government Statistician reported that by island divisions, only Tongatapu's population increased, "with an annual growth of 0.8 percent, while all outer islands decreased. The major decrease was recorded at Ongo Niua by -5.2 percent, followed by Ha'apai -2.6 percent, 'Eua -0.8 percent, and Vava'u -0.7."

Other interesting figures in the preliminary count showed the total households in the kingdom has increased to 18,053 in Census 2011 by 3.4 percent from 17,462 households in Census 2006.

Of the 103,036 people recorded in the Census 2011, there were 52,001 males and 51,035 females.

Although Tongatapu's annual growth rate is increasing, the national annual growth rate has declined from 0.4 percent to 0.2 percent.

"The figures from this preliminary count were recorded directly from the census summary of each census enumerator. It is expected these figures will have slight variation once the final processing of census data is completed," the Government Statistician stated.

The census conducted on November 30, also included a questionnaire with employment, income and poverty indicators, and the full results are expected by mid-2012.

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