Malta’s population has shot up to 519,562, up by 25% in just ten years, with Sliema now the most densely populated locality. 

A preliminary report on the 2021 population and housing census shows the population grew from 417,432 in 2011 to more than half a million in 2021. 

This was a result of a consistent population increase of 10,000 people per year since 2011, the highest growth ever recorded between censuses to date.  

The National Statistics Office said this “unprecedented growth” contrasted with an average annual increase of just under 1,000 people observed during the 19th century.  

This means that over a century, the population, Malta’s population has more than doubled. 

In announcing preliminary results of the census held late last year, the officials said population growth was fast, with migration contributing substantially to the increase.

The rise of the non-Maltese  

The statistics show the number of non-Maltese living in Malta has increased fivefold since 2011, from 20,289 to 115,449.  

This means that 22.2% of the population are non-Maltese.

Birkirkara is no longer the biggest locality in population terms and has been superseded by St Paul’s Bay with 32,042 residents. Back in 2005, the locality was the fifth largest 

Sliema most densely populated locality

Malta not only retained its place as the most densely populated EU member state, but the population density continues to increase, reaching 1,649 persons per square kilometre in 2021. This represents a 24.5% increase when compared to 2011.

The EU average in 2019 stood at 109 people per square kilometre. The second most densely populated country, the Netherlands, is still three times less densely populated than Malta, with 507 people per square kilometre.  

Looking at population growth at the regional level, the northern harbour district registered the biggest increase since 2011, with the region’s population growing by a massive 47%, equivalent to an additional 30,000 people.  

Conversely, the lowest increase was registered in the southern harbour district, with an increase of 8.3% over 2011. The district includes the three cities, and areas like Marsa, Paola and Luqa.   

Għasri is the only place in Malta and Gozo where the population density is in line with the EU average. 

Sliema is the most densely populated with a staggering 15,000 people per square kilometre. Senglea (14,418 people per km) was previously the most densely populated but that has been decreasing.

There have also been steep increases in St Paul’s Bay and Marsascala.

Although overall, no districts recorded a decrease in population compared to the last census, eight localities recorded declines, with six of these being in the southern harbour district.  

The largest changes in percentage terms were observed in Mdina, down by 19.2%, followed by Senglea, with a drop of 15.9% and Santa Lucija with a decrease of 11.9%.

115,000 foreigners living in Malta

The number of foreigners living in Malta has reached 115,00 a five-fold increase since the last census 10 years previously.  The average age of foreigners in Malta is nine years lower than the Maltese and 60% of the foreigners are men. This has contributed to the fact that, for the first time, Malta has more men (52%) than women although the gap has been narrowing since 1967.

44,000 foreigners live in the North, mostly in St Paul’s Bay, and 22,000 in the Sliema/St Julian’s area.

Malta's population age low 

The average age of the population has risen to 41.7, a slower rise than in the past owing to the lower average age of foreigners. The average age of the population is still below the EU average.

The census was held in the last quarter of 2021 by the National Statistics Office.

Census letters were sent to 225,000 households and a third replied online, a better-than-expected result. The rest of the responses were compiled by an army of enumerators.

41 questions were asked with themes ranging from the socio-economic conditions of the individuals and living conditions.

The results will be issued in phases, starting from details on population size, population distribution and citizenship.

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