BEIJING - Guangdong, China's largest export hub, had the biggest population rise of any province or municipality in the decade to 2010, as people sought factory jobs, according to the latest census from the world's most-populous nation.
It is the top proportional change in China's population, which rose by 74 million people to 1.34 billion as of Nov 1, the National Bureau of Statistics said last week. Guangdong constituted 7.79 percent of the total, an increase of 0.96 percentage points from 6.83 percent a decade earlier.
Sichuan, in the landlocked southwest, had the biggest drop, underscoring the challenge policymakers face in shifting growth away from the coast.
"People are flocking to places such as Guangdong and Zhejiang because of the job opportunities and higher wages," said Ren Xianfang, an economist at IHS Global Insight in Beijing.
"This trend will continue for a while, but the pace is slowing because manufacturing is gradually shifting inland."
Guangdong, on the border north of Hong Kong, is home to companies such as Gree Electric Appliances Inc, China's largest air-conditioner maker, and the appliance producer GD Midea Holding Co. Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, contract manufacturer of Apple Inc's iPhone and iPad devices, employs more than 400,000 workers in the province.
Guangdong's population of 104 million in November dethroned central China's Henan, the biggest wheat-growing region, as the nation's most-populous province, census data show. Shandong, along the east coast, was second at 96 million with Henan dropping to 94 million.
Overall, the population in the eastern region, much of it along the coast, rose 2.41 percentage points, the Statistics Bureau said. Western areas dropped 1.11 percentage points, and central areas 1.08 percentage points.
China's 1.34 billion population was about 170 million more than India's, based on a US government estimate of the No 2 most populous nation.