ADDIS ABABA (AFP) — Ethiopia's population has risen by a staggering 23.4 million people over the past 14 years, to its current 76.9 million, according to a census approved by parliament Thursday.
The census dates from May 2007 and includes a projected annual growth rate of 2.6 million people, after delays in the verification process.
"We carried out a census in May 2007 and it shows that there were 73,918,505 people at that time," Central Statistics Agency chief Samya Zakarya told AFP.
"But based on a projection of an annual growth rate of 2.6 percent, Ethiopia's population up to this month is 76,947,760."
UN estimations of Ethiopia's population are higher, at more than 81 million.
Ethiopia's population stood at 53.4 million when the last census was conducted in 1994.
The new census shows the capital, Addis Ababa, with a population of 2.7 million.
Nearly 62 million people, or 83.8 percent, live in rural areas, with the central Oromiya and Amhara regions growing by 3.2 million and 2.4 million respectively.
Muslims increased by 1.1 percent in the traditionally Christian-dominated nation to number more than 25 million, up from 17.4 million 14 years ago.
The Christian population rose to more than 46 million, or 62 percent of the population, up from 32.7 million in 1994.
The census highlights a decrease in the number of Orthodox Christians, traditionally the dominant church in Ethiopia. They now comprise 43.5 percent of the population, as against just over 50 percent in 1994.
The erosion is mainly due to the rising influence of Pentecostal churches in the country. Membership of Protestant churches as a whole has increased from 5.4 million to 13.7 million.
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