Demographics of the European Union: Wikis


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With 114 people per km² the EU is one of the most densely populated regions in the world.
A cartogram depicting population distribution within the European Union at the member state level. Note how roughly half of all citizens within the EU live within the 4 largest member states: Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Italy.
Another population-density cartogram.

The demographics of the European Union show a highly populated, culturally diverse union of 27 member states. As of 1 January 2010, the population of the EU is about 501.26 million people.[1]. Many countries are expected to experience a decline in population over the coming decades,[2] though this could be offset with new countries planning to join the EU within the next 20 years.

The most populous member state is Germany, with an estimated 82.1 million people, and the least populous member state is Malta with 0.4 million. Birth rates in the EU are low with the average woman having 1.5 children. The highest birth-rates are found in the Republic of Ireland with 16.876 births per thousand people per year and France with 13.013 births per thousand people per year. Germany has the lowest birth rate in Europe with 8.221 births per thousand people per year.

Population and Land Areas of the 27 member-states of the European Union (January 1st 2010 estimate)
Member State Population
in thousands
 % of EU
% of EU
Pop. density
 European Union 501,259.8 100 4,324,782 100 116.0
 Austria 8,372.9 1.67 83,858 1.9 99.7
 Belgium 10,827.5 2.16 30,510 0.7 352.0
 Bulgaria 7,576.8 1.51 110,912 2.5 68.5
 Cyprus 801.9 0.16 9,250 0.2 86.6
 Czech Republic 10,512.4 2.1 78,866 1.8 132.8
 Denmark 5,547.1 1.11 43,094 1.0 128.1
 Estonia 1,340.3 0.27 45,226 1.0 29.6
 Finland 5,350.5 1.07 337,030 7.6 15.8
 France[3] 64,709.5 12.86 643,548 14.6 99.6
 Germany 81,757.6 16.31 357,021 8.1 229.9
 Greece 11,306.2 2.26 131,940 3.0 85.4
 Hungary 10,013.6 2 93,030 2.1 107.8
 Ireland 4,450.9 0.89 70,280 1.6 64.3
 Italy 60,397.4 12.05 301,320 6.8 199.4
 Latvia 2,249.0 0.45 64,589 1.5 35.0
 Lithuania 3,329.2 0.66 65,200 1.5 51.4
 Luxembourg 502.2 0.1 2,586 0.1 190.1
 Malta 416.3 0.08 316 0.0 1,305.7
 Netherlands 16,576.8 3.31 41,526 0.9 396.9
 Poland 38,163.9 7.61 312,685 7.1 121.9
 Portugal 10,636.9 2.12 92,931 2.1 114.4
 Romania 21,466.2 4.28 238,391 5.4 90.2
 Spain 46,087.2 9.19 504,782 11.4 90.8
 Slovakia 5,424.1 1.08 48,845 1.1 110.8
 Slovenia 2,054.1 0.41 20,253 0.5 101.4
 Sweden 9,347.9 1.86 449,964 10.2 20.6
 United Kingdom 62,041.7 12.38 244,820 5.5 251.7


Most populous areas

The European union has 13 of the 60 "global cities"of all types[4], with four "alpha" global cities: London, Paris,Frankfurt and Milan.[5]The following is a list of the ten most populous cities, urban areas and urban zones in the European Union, with their population according to 2005 estimates.

City proper

Urban area


London Skyline.jpg Panorama Paris December 2007.jpg Berlin at nightCROPPED.JPG
London 7.5 Paris 10.1 London 12.0
Berlin 3.4 London 9.1 Paris 11.6
Madrid 3.1 Madrid 5.5 Madrid 5.6
Rome 2.7 Ruhr 5.3 Ruhr 5.4 London Paris Berlin
Paris 2.2 Barcelona 4.5 Katowice 5.2 Gran Vía (Madrid) 04.jpg BCN02.jpg Bucharest-Calea-Victoriei-Aerial-View.jpg
Bucharest 1.9 Milan 3.8 Berlin 4.9
Hamburg 1.8 Berlin 3.7 Barcelona 4.8
Warsaw 1.7 Warsaw 3.3 Milan 3.9
Budapest 1.7 Rotterdam 3.3 Athens 3.9
Vienna 1.7 Athens 3.2 Rome 3.7 Madrid Barcelona Bucharest

Population shifts



There is substantial movement of people within the Union i.e. internal migration; this occurs in strong patterns:

  • from former industrialised areas in the Benelux, Britain and Germany to the Sun belts in Spain, Portugal, Southern France and Italy.
  • from poorer eastern countries of the EU to the richer countries of the western EU (UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Portugal, Spain)

The British emigration towards Southern Europe is of especial relevance. Citizens from the European Union make up a growing proportion of immigrants in Spain. They mainly come from countries like the UK and Germany, but the British case is of particular interest due to its magnitude. The British authorities estimate that the real population of UK citizens living in Spain is much bigger than Spanish official figures suggest, establishing them at about 1,000,000 and about 800,000 being permanent residents.[6]

In fact, according to the Financial Times, Spain is the most favoured destination for West Europeans considering to move from their own country and seek jobs elsewhere in the EU. [7]

Immigration and emigration

There are currently more people immigrating into the European Union than there are emigrating from it. Immigration is a controversial issue in many member states such as Belgium, Sweden, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Spain in particular receives most of the immigrants coming illegally to Europe from Africa, probably due to its large coastal area and its proximity and borders to Morocco at Ceuta and Melilla; African immigrants try to enter the country by boat from Morocco or Senegal or by jumping the border fences. During the first weekend of September 2006, more than 1,300 illegal immigrants arrived on beaches in the Canary Islands [8] and estimations are that between 50,000 and 70,000 people enter illegally the European Union through Spanish borders or beaches. Border fences have been built at both the Ceuta and Melilla borders in an attempt to stop illegal entrance to the country. Illegal immigration is an issue in Spanish politics, and also a big human rights problem, since many people die during the journey. Spain has been Europe's largest absorber of migrants for the past six years, with its immigrant population increasing fourfold as 2.8 million people have arrived, mostly from Latin America. Spectacular growth in Spain's immigrant population came as the country's economy created more than half of all the new jobs in the European Union between 2001 and 2006.[9]

In other countries, such as Ireland or Portugal, immigration is not seen as such a big issue, probably due to those countries' history of emigration. Spain also has past history of emigration too, especially in the 1960s during Franco's dictatorship, but the fact that it receives the most immigrants in all of the EU has made the problem grow more important in political debate.

The net migration rate for the EU in 2008 was 3,1 per 1000 inhabitants.[10 ] This figure is for migration into and out of the European Union, and therefore excludes any internal movements between member states.Net migration has remained an annual level of between 1.5 and 2 million since 2003.[10 ]


The EU has significant religious diversity, mirroring its diverse history and culture. A nominal majority of the population professes Christianity, predominantly Roman Catholicism, Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Despite this, not all EU nations have Christian majorities (in the Czech Republic, Estonia, and The Netherlands for example, a majority has no religious affiliation).

Today, theism is losing prevalence in Europe in favour of atheism, and religion is losing prevalence in favour of secularism. European countries have experienced a decline in church attendance, as well as a decline in the number of people professing a belief in a god. The Eurobarometer Poll 2005found that, on average, 52% of the citizens of EU member states state that they believe in a god, 27% believe there is some sort of spirit or life Force while 18% do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god or Life Force, and 3% declined to answer.

A decrease in church membership and/ or church attendance in Europe (especially Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Norway, the Netherlands and Sweden) has been noted, church attendance (percentagewise of the total population by country) in Northern and Western Europe is typically in the single digits.

The recent influx of immigrants to the affluent EU nations has brought in various religions of their native homelands, including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Bahá'í Faith. Judaism has had a long history in Europe and has coexisted with the native populations for centuries, despite centuries of discrimination against Jewish people and several attendant periods of persecution or genocide by European rulers. As the Christian churches have historically wielded much power in Europe, reaction to this has allowed secularism to plant deep roots on European soil which has contributed to the rise in atheism and agnosticism.


The first official languages of each of the 27 member countries has the status of an official language of the European Union. In total there are 23, with Irish, Bulgarian and Romanian gaining official language status on 1 January 2007, when the last two countries joined the union.

English is the most spoken language in the EU, being spoken by around 51% of its population. This high proportion is because 38% of EU citizens speak it as a language other than their mother tongue (i.e. second or foreign language). German is the most spoken first language, spoken by more than 18% of the population.

Demographic future

The EU faces challenges in its demographic future. Most concerns centre around two related issues; an ageing population, and overall population decline.

The 2006 birth rate is 10 births per 1000 population, while the death rate is 10.1 deaths per 1000 people, making 2006 the first time in modern (non war) history where more people have died in Europe than were born. [11] The total fertility rate is an internationally low 1.47 children born per female, [11] where fertility rates above 2 per female are generally needed to maintain the current population. These figures mean the population of the EU is expected to decrease, while also suggesting the average age of European society will grow ever higher. While this decline in population could be halted by allowing substantial immigration into the EU, this remains a difficult solution that many refuse to accept. [12] However since 2004 there has been an upward trend in the natural increase of the population which is due to the moderate increase of the crude birth rate that reached 10,9 births per 1000 inhabitants in 2008, an increase of 0,3 compared with 2007.The increase was observed in all member countries except Germany. The EU crude death rate remained stable at 9,7 per 1000 inhabitants.[10 ]

A low fertility rate means retirement age workers are not entirely replaced by younger workers joining the workforce. The EU faces a potential future dominated by an ever-increasing population of retired citizens, without enough younger workers to fund (via taxes) retirement programs or other state welfare agendas. [13]

A low fertility rate, without supplement from immigration, also suggests a declining overall EU population[14], which further suggests economic contraction or even a possible economic crisis. [15] While some media have noted the 'baby crisis' in the EU[16], and some governments have noted the problem[17], the UN and other multinational authorities continue to warn of an impending crisis.[18]

If Turkey joined the EU in 2009, it would be the second-largest country in the EU, after Germany.

Ethnic composition

The ethnic groups with more than 10 million people in the European Union are:

  1. the Germans (ca. 77 million)
  2. the French (ca. 65 million)
  3. the British (ca. 61 million)
  4. the Italians (ca. 60 million)
  5. the Poles (ca. 42 million)
  6. the Spanish (ca. 41 million)
  7. the Romanians (ca. 22 million)
  8. the Dutch (ca. 13 million)
  9. the Hungarians (ca. 12 million)
  10. the Greeks (ca. 12 million)
  11. the Portuguese (ca 12 million)
  12. the Swedish (ca. 10 million)

These groups account for some 425 million or about 85% of European Union population. The remaining 15% is shared by the Czechs, Austrians, Bulgarians, Flemings, Slovaks, Danes, Finns, Irish, Walloons, Lithuanians, Slovenes, Latvians, Estonians, Maltese.

Miscellaneous statistics

Age structure: (2006 est.)

  • 0–14 years: 16.03% (male 37,608,010/female 35,632,351)
  • 15–64 years: 67.17% (male 154,439,536/female 152,479,619)
  • 65 years and over: 16.81% (male 31,515,921/female 45,277,821)

Birth rate: 10.9 births/1,000 population 2008

Death rate: 9.7 deaths/1,000 population 2008

Net migration rate: 3.1 migrant(s)/1,000 population 2008

Marriage rate: 4.9 marriages/1,000 population 2007

Divorce rate: 2.0 divorces/1,000 population 2005

Sex ratio: (2006 est.)

  • at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
  • under 15 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
  • 15–64 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
  • 65 years and older: 0.69 male(s)/female
  • total population: 0.96 male(s)/female

Infant mortality rate: 2005

  • total: 4.5 deaths/1,000 live births
  • male: -
  • female: -

Life expectancy: 2005

  • total population: 78.9 years
  • male: 75.8 years
  • female: 81.9 years

Total fertility rate: 1.53 children born/woman 2008

Live Births outside marriage: 33.0% of total live births 2005

See also

The demographics of the member states of the European Union:


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ "The EU's baby blues", BBC News, 27 March 2006. Retrieved 10 July 2006.
  3. ^ Figures for France include the four overseas departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion) which are integral parts of the European Union, but do not include the overseas collectivities and territories, which are not part of the European Union. Figures for Metropolitan France proper are: population 62.784 million, area 551,695 km², and population density 114/km².
  4. ^ "The 2008 Global Cities Index". Foreign Policy (November/December 2008). October 21, 2008. Retrieved 2009-01-30.  
  5. ^ "GaWC - Inventory of World Cities". Retrieved 2009-01-31.  
  6. ^ [2], [3], [4], [5], [6], [7], [8]
  7. ^
  8. ^ Canaries migrant surge tops 1,300 BBC News, 4 September 2006, accessed 4 September 2006
  9. ^ Spain attracts record levels of immigrants seeking jobs and sun, The Guardian, accessed July 26 2006
  10. ^ a b c "5.4 million children born in EU27 in 2008". Eurostat.  
  11. ^ a b CIA - The World Factbook
  12. ^ Europe faces labor shortages as population ages - International Herald Tribune
  13. ^ Economic and Financial Affairs -The Economic Policy Committee- Ageing
  14. ^ Regional Policy Inforegio
  15. ^ Immigrants needed to save west from crisis | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited
  16. ^ BBC NEWS | Europe | The EU's baby blues
  17. ^ The EU's Window of Opportunity
  18. ^ UN

See also


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