BEIJING - China's population, the world's largest, grew by almost 7 million
people last year, according to an official report.
China's National Bureau of Statistics said in a report released late
Wednesday that the country's population was 1,314,480,000 at the end of 2006, an
increase of 6.92 million people.
The bureau said males accounted for 51.5 percent of the population, adding
that the ratio of males to female newborns stood at 119.25 to 100 in 2006.
The gender imbalance is a growing problem in China, with state media
reporting last month that there will be 30 million more men of marriageable age
than women in less than 15 years.
China imposed strict population controls, including a policy of one child for
almost all couples, in the 1970s to limit growth of its huge population. One
side effect has been a jump in gender selection of babies. Traditional
preferences for a son mean some women abort their baby if an early term sonogram
shows it is a girl.
The sex ratio was 110 to 100 in 2000. The average for industrialized
countries is between 104 and 107 boys for every 100 girls.
China has 20 percent of the world's population.
The report said that urban residents accounted for 43.9 percent of the total
population by the end of the year, up 0.9 percentage points from 2005.
The report did not define an urban area. The legal boundaries of big cities
in China often include large areas of farmland.