The population of Malta and Gozo stood at 410,290 at the end of last year and is expected to reach 424,028 by 2025, the National Statistics Office said on the occasion of the 19th World Population Day.

After 2025 the population is expected to start decreasing again, to just over 400,000 by 2050.

At the moment, females slightly outnumber males, making up 50.3 per cent of the population. The largest proportion of persons - 7.5 per cent - were aged 25-29, while there were 7.3 per cent falling into each of the 45-49 and 55-59 age brackets.

The UN's World Population Day aims to build awareness of the importance of family planning with regard to many development issues, including gender equality, poverty, maternal health and human rights, the NSO said.

The office recorded a total of 3,871 live births last year, a slight decrease of 0.4 per cent over 2006. Just over half were boys.

The majority of mothers were aged 25-34, with 33.6 per cent falling into the age bracket 25-29 and 30.7 per cent into 30-34. Fathers generally tended to be slightly older than mothers.

The number of deaths in 2007 stood at 3,111 - 1,610 males and 1,501 females.

This is a decrease of 3.3 per cent over the 3,216 deaths in the previous year. As can be expected, the majority of deaths involved persons aged 75 and over.

A total of 2,479 marriages took place in 2007, a drop of 2.3 per cent over 2006. Of these, 153 took place in Gozo.

When looking at the nationality of brides and grooms, the most common pairings for Maltese persons (aside from with another Maltese person) are Maltese brides with Libyan and British grooms, and Maltese grooms with brides from another European (not EU) country.

There was also a large number of marriages where both persons were British.

Last year, a total of 637 separations were registered, of which 569 (89 per cent) involved two Maltese persons.

Further to this, there were 167 registered annulments in this same year; 34 religious and 133 civil. The majority of these annulments involved marriages of 10-19 years duration, followed by 5-9 years.

There were also 35 divorces, obtained abroad and recognised by the Maltese authorities, the NSO said.

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