The relatively affluent eastern part of China had seen a higher rate of population growth than the western areas, results of the national census show.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Monday, the population in 12 western provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities now accounts for about 28.1 percent of the country’ s total.
The ratio is 0.4 percentage point lower than ten years ago. If a line is drawn on the map of China and at each side of the line, the number of Chinese residents are equal, this line would be further into the west of the country than it is now.
The change can be contributed to the emergence of a huge number of “floating population” in the past decade, who left their home in rural areas to seek jobs in cities.
Over the past decade, the fastest population growth was found in Guangdong, a prosperous province at the southeastern coast of the Chinese mainland. Population in the province grew over 37 percent within ten years.
Three of the nine most populous provinces in China are eastern coastal provinces, while another five are in the central part of the country. The remaining one is in the west.
On the other hand, the provinces and autonomous regions that have the smallest population are mostly in the western part of the country, including Tibet and Ningxia Hui autonomous regions and Qinghai Province.
However, Tibet Autonomous Region, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, where many of China’s ethnic groups live, had seen the rapidest growth of population in the western part of the country. Population growth ranged between 19-27 percent in these regions during 1990-2000.
According to the NBS, western China saw a population growth of 10.33 percent over the past decade, lower than the national average of 11.66 percent.
Over the past ten years, population growth in most of the provinces in central China are lower than the national average. In contrast, population in the eastern and southern coastal areas and Beijing and Tianjin were growing at double-digit rates that are either equal to or higher than the national average.
The most densely populated province is Henan in central China, with a population of 92.56 million. The second is Shandong Province in east China, with a population of 90.79 million.
The other populous provinces are Guangdong with 86.42 million, Sichuan with 83.29 million, Jiangsu with 74.38 million, Hebei with 67.44 million, Hunan with 64.4 million, Hubei with 60.28 million and Anhui with 59.86 million.
Over the past decade, more than two-thirds of these provinces have seen a slower population growth rate than the national average. Only Guangdong and Hebei provinces had higher rates.
According to the NBS report, the Tibet Autonomous Region has the lowest population in China, with 2.62 million as of November 1, 2000.
Other areas with smaller populations include Qinghai Province, with 5.18 million people, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region with 5.62 million people, and Hainan Province, 7.87 million.
The populations of the four municipalities directly under the central government have all exceeded 10 million, with 30.9 million in Chongqing, 16.74 million in Shanghai, 13.82 in Beijing and 10. 01 million in Tianjin.
China has 32 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, including Taiwan. In addition, it also has two special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macao.