The results of a government census reveal that Vietnam ’s population rose by nearly 12 percent in the past ten years, making it the third most-populous ASEAN nation and the 13th most densely-populated in the world.

The 2009 General Housing and Population census found the total population was 85,789,573 as counted at 0.00 hours on April 1, 2009, a rise of 9.47 million from 1999. These results were made public at a teleconference in Hanoi on Aug. 13, which was chaired by Permanent Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung.

This new population figure reflects a population growth rate was 1.2 percent a year in the 1999-2009, representing a 0.5 percent decrease from the figure recorded a decade ago and the lowest rate within 50 years.

The most populous city was found to be Ho Chi Minh City, housing up to 7,123,340 residents, followed by the capital city of Hanoi with 6,448,837; the central northern province of Thanh Hoa with 3,400,239; the central province of Nghe An with 2,913,005; and the southern province of Dong Nai with 2,483,211.

Boasting the smallest population in Vietnam was the mountainous northern province of Bac Kan , where only 294,660 people reside. The biggest population explosion belongs to the southern province of Binh Duong , whose population doubled just within a decade.

Results show that the nation’s population is distributed unevenly, with the Red River Delta and the Mekong River Delta regions hosting up to 43 percent of the total, while the midlands and mountains to the north together with the Central Highlands were home to just 19 percent of the population.

The south-eastern region posted the highest population growth rate at 3.2 percent a year and the Central Highlands swelled due to an influx of immigrants by 2.3 percent a year.

Urban dwellers accounted for 29.6 percent of the population, their numbers rising 3.4 percent a year on average, while the head count of rural folks edged up by only 0.4 percent a year./.

In terms of urbanisation, the south-eastern region again leads the pack, with urbanites making up 57.1 percent of its population, followed by the Red River Delta region, with 29.2 percent.

The sex ratio has nearly balanced with 98.1 males to 100 females, an increase of 1.4 males per 100 females compared to 1999.

The sex ratio was found to be higher in the developed areas with occupations that need men’s labour and it was lower in areas where traditionally female occupations predominate. The south-eastern region was observed to have the lowest sex ratio.

The census also found that over 7,200 people have lived beyond a century, among many other findings.

Speaking at the conference, Deputy PM Hung said these key results serve as important grounds for relevant agencies to assess the effectiveness of the country’s socio-economic development strategy in the past decade in order to map out strategies at both national and local levels for the next ten years.

Accordingly, he urged relevant agencies to focus on analysing, evaluating and processing the statistics accurately, and in a timely manner, so the statistics can be made public in full in September, 2010.

Present at the conference, a UNFPA representative said his organisation saw it as an encouraging sign that Vietnam released the initial results of its census prior to other countries in the world.

UNFPA pledged to continue assisting Vietnam in analysing the date, to help the country formulate socio-economic development strategies.

The organisation urged Vietnam to focus on analysing the sex ratio for the under-five group to see whether there is a trend of selecting gender. If the sex ratio rises, it will produce a long-term, powerful impact on the country’s socio-economic development in future.