Iraq's population tops 40 million for the first time

Political wrangling, the deteriorated security situation, lack of funds and recently the pandemic have delayed the census

People feed seagulls on the a bridge over the Tigris river as the sun sets in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

Iraq’s population hit 40.1 million people in 2020, up from 39.3 million the year before, the country’s Planning Ministry said on Tuesday.

Men make up 50.5 per cent of the population, the ministry’s spokesman Aabdul-Zahra Al Hindawi said.

Those aged between 15-64 years old, considered the socio-economically active segment of the population, make up 56.5 per cent, Mr Al Hindawi said.

He added that 40.4 per cent of the population are aged between 0 and 14. Those who are above 65 years old make up just 3.1 per cent of the population.

In the absence of a national census, the country's Central Organisation for Statistics and Information Technology conducts the calculation based mainly on the country's annual growth or birth rate which is between 850,000 to 1 million per year, he told The National.

After the 2003 US-led invasion removed Saddam from power, Iraqis have been planning to hold a national census in a bid to help settle claims for rights such as disputed land or resources or shares in government.

But political wrangling, the deteriorated security situation, lack of funds and ongoing pandemic have delayed the census.

A national survey was scheduled to be held in November last year, but it was postponed for a year over a lack of money amid an economic crisis and Covid-19, he said.

No date has yet been set yet for this year's attempt, but the ministry is aiming for November, he told The National.

Iraq's last census was held in 1997, but it didn’t include the northern self-ruled Kurdish region, which had international protection following the ousting of the Iraqi army from Kuwait in 1991.