Europe

Census reveals German population lower than thought

Crowd in a Berlin park - file pic Image copyright AFP
Image caption Berlin: Germany has long been using out-of-date population figures

Germany has found that it has 1.5 million fewer people than was generally assumed, following the first census since reunification in 1990.

The new data revealed a population of 80.2 million, the federal statistics office Destatis said.

The census in the EU's most populous country was carried out on 9 May, 2011.

Until now, the census figures dated back to a West German one conducted in 1987, and a 1981 one in the former communist East Germany.

The data reveals that the number of foreign passport-holders resident in Germany had been overestimated.

The total number of foreigners is 6.2 million - 1.1 million fewer than had been assumed. They make up 7.7% of the total population.

The number of residents from a non-German background is 15 million - about 19% of the total.

Hamburg has the highest proportion of ethnically non-German residents, at 27.5%. The figure for the capital, Berlin, is 23.9%. And in all the states of former East Germany the figure is less than 5%.

The census also revealed that 66.8% of respondents consider themselves Christian, and 10.5% atheists. In eastern Germany, non-believers account for about 33% - far higher than the 6% figure for western Germany.

Only 1.9% of respondents said they were Muslim. Statisticians believe many Muslims used their legal right not to state their religion in the survey, according to the news website, Der Spiegel.

On home ownership, the census put the national figure at 45.8%, with Berlin right at the bottom. Only 15.6% of people in the capital are homeowners.

Meanwhile, more than one in 10 dwellings in the eastern German cities of Chemnitz, Leipzig and Halle were found to be empty. Housing is much more of a problem in Jena, Muenster, Hamburg and Oldenburg, where less than 2% of dwellings are empty.

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