PUTRAJAYA, Dec 22 — Malaysia’s population has increased to 27.5 million last year from 22.2 million in 2000, according to the latest census by the Statistics Department.
Malays were the largest ethnic group in the country, comprising 50.1 per cent of the 27,484,596 total.
They were followed by the Chinese (22.5 per cent), non-Malay Bumiputeras (11.8 per cent), Indians (6.7 per cent), and others (0.7 per cent).
Non-Malaysian citizens numbered 2.25 million or 8.2 per cent of the population.
Malays made up the highest proportion of the population in Terengganu (95 per cent), Putrajaya (94.6 per cent) and Kelantan (92.7 per cent).
The highest proportion of Chinese could be found in Penang (42.9 per cent) while the greatest concentration of Indians was in Negri Sembilan (14.3 per cent).
Seventy-one per cent of Malaysians now live in urban areas, compared to just 27 per cent in 1957 when Malaysia achieved independence.
In 2010, Malaysia also recorded 475,816 births, 17.5 per 1,000 population, versus 129,327 deaths or 4.8 for every 1,000 population.
Fertility rates were highest in the Bumiputera community at 2.6, down from 3.5 in 2000, while it fell to 1.5 from 2.6 among the Chinese and to 1.7 from 2.5 in the Indian community over the past decade.
Chief statistician Dr Abdul Rahman Hasan said the lower fertility rates could be explained by the growing number of women who are entering the workforce and increased access to contraceptives.
“When women participate in the economy, the age of marriage will go up.
“But more importantly, women can now make their own choice, contraceptives and so forth,” he said, adding that the average age of marriage for women was now 26.
Average life expectancy was 71.9 years for men and 77 years for women, with Chinese women boasting the highest life expectancy of any group, at 79.8 years.
Some 67 per cent of the population was aged between 15 and 64 while about five per cent of Malaysians were aged 65 and above.
Despite the increase in the proportion of over-65s, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop assured reporters that Malaysia was not an ageing nation.
“The international definition is more than seven per cent above the age of 65. And for us more than 65 we are only five per cent. So not yet; we’re still young and strong.
“According to our projections, we will be an ageing society only in 2025, after we have achieved Vision 2020,” he quipped.
Nor Mohamed added that fertility rates were projected to decrease slowly to the replacement rate of 2.1 in 2090, when the population of Malaysia is expected to peak at 57 million.