Population Trends

▪ 1999

Introduction

Demography
      At midyear 1998, world population stood at 5,926,000,000, according to estimates prepared by the Population Reference Bureau. This total represented an increase of 84 million over the previous year, firmly establishing that world population would reach the six billion mark during 1999. Given that the fifth billion was achieved as recently as 1987, global population was on track to add this next billion during the shortest time in history. The annual rate of increase declined to about 1.41% from about 1.47% in 1997, once again the result of birthrate declines in some less-developed countries (LDCs). The 1998 rate of increase, if maintained, would double world population in 49 years. Approximately 137 million babies were born worldwide in 1998, 2 million fewer than in 1997. Just over 90% of the births in 1998 occurred in LDCs. About 53 million people died in 1998; 78% of those deaths were in LDCs. The smaller percentage of the LDC share of deaths resulted from their much younger average age.

      According to available survey data, 56% of married couples were using some form of contraception in 1998. The percentage using a "modern" form, which included such clinically supplied methods as the oral contraceptive and surgical methods such as sterilization, was 51%, slightly higher than in 1997. The number of couples using family planning in LDCs remained at 54% for all methods and 49% for modern methods. The use of modern contraception in LDCs ranged from 58% in Latin America to as low as 11% in sub-Saharan Africa.

      Worldwide, 32% of the population was below the age of 15 in 1998, but that figure was 37% in LDCs outside China. The more-developed countries (MDCs) continued to age in 1998; the population below age 15 fell one more point to 19%. This situation once again resulted from extremely low birthrates in Europe and in Japan, rates that showed little sign of rising despite growing concern in those countries over the societal effects of prolonged aging. The continuing youthfulness of the LDCs ensured that their populations would continue growing for many decades. Africa remained the youngest continent in 1998, with 44% of its population below age 15. Two MDCs—Italy and Sweden—had the largest percentage of their population aged 65 and over, 17%.

       World's 25 Most Populous Urban Areas The percentage of the world's population living in urban areas rose slightly in 1998, to 44% from 43% one year earlier. In the LDCs 36% of the population was classified as urban, the same as during the previous year, whereas 73% of the MDC population lived in urban centres. Urban population was defined differently from country to country but generally included those living in towns of 2,500 or more inhabitants or in provincial and national capitals. (For the World's 25 Most Populous Urban Areas, see Table (World's 25 Most Populous Urban Areas ).)

      Life expectancy at birth was 64 years for males and 68 for females in 1998, the same as in the previous year. In the MDCs the same figures were 71 and 79 and in the LDCs, 62 and 65. The 1998 world infant mortality rate stood at 58 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, a slight decrease from 59 in 1997. The lowest infant mortality rates were in western and northern Europe, at 5 and 6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively. Finland reported the lowest rate of 3.5. Although there were small decreases in some LDCs, the overall rate remained at the high level of 64.

Less-Developed Countries.
      In 1998 the population of LDCs grew at 1.73% per year, 1.99% for LDCs outside China. These rates were slightly lower than in 1997, in part owing to a decline in the growth rate in India. The total population of the LDCs was 4,748,000,000—82,000,000 more than in 1997. Their population constituted 80% of the world total. Of the 84,000,000 people added annually to the world population, 98% were in LDCs. In the LDCs women averaged 3.3 children each, down from 3.4 in 1997. In LDCs excluding China, however, women averaged 3.9 children each. This remained far from the "two-child family" essential to slowing population growth to zero and stabilizing world population size.

      Fertility declines were noted in several LDCs, but others showed a tendency for fertility decreases to slow or to cease at moderately high levels. A major development was seen in Iran, where fertility fell to 3.0 children per woman, a result of a sharp turnaround in the national population policy, which was encouraging smaller families. Countries where fertility declines were reported to have slowed included Colombia, Jamaica, and Mali.

      Africa's population in 1998 totaled 763 million, 20 million more than in 1997. The continent's annual growth rate was 2.5%, by far the world's highest and sufficient to double the population in only 27 years. In 1998 life expectancy at birth in Africa was the world's lowest at 50 years for males and 53 for females. Infant mortality was the world's highest at 91 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy in many African countries was severely affected by AIDS. In some areas of Africa in 1998, life expectancy was less than 40 years.

      In 1998 Latin America's population totaled 500 million, with an annual growth rate of 1.8%, essentially the same as in 1997. Women averaged 3 children in 1998, unchanged from 1997; this ranged from 5.1 in Guatemala to 1.4 in Cuba. Life expectancy remained at 66 years for males and 72 for females. The infant mortality rate was 36 in 1998, down from 39 in 1997.

      Asia's population totaled 3,604,000,000 in 1998, a gain of 54,000,000 over 1997. The region's growth rate declined from 1.6% in 1997 to 1.5% in 1998, largely owing to a small drop in the growth rate in India. Life expectancy in Asia in 1998 stood at about 64 for males and 67 for females. Women in Asia averaged 2.8 children in 1998, but the average was 3.3 in the countries outside China. In China women averaged only 1.8 children, a result of the national population program. In India women averaged 3.4 children, down slightly from 1997.

More-Developed Countries.
      The population of the MDCs was 1,178,000,000 in 1998. The growth rate during the year was an extremely low 0.1%. Much of that growth was in the U.S. In Europe in 1998 there were more deaths than births, as was also the case in 1997. The population of no fewer than 13 European countries experienced this natural decrease in 1998, among them Germany, Italy, and Russia. The Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, and Russia shared the world's lowest fertility in 1998, averaging only 1.2 children each.

      Life expectancy at birth in Europe (including the European republics of the former Soviet Union) was 69 for males and 77 for females. Life expectancy in Russia continued to recover from its very low levels of the period immediately after the breakup of the Soviet Union, reaching 61 for males and 73 for females. This remained remarkably low by MDC standards. Infant mortality in the region continued at historically low levels. Western Europe in 1998 achieved the world's lowest, a rate of 5.

      The resident population of the U.S. was 270,733,000 on October 1, 1998, up from 267,636,000 a year earlier. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that, during the 12 months ended in July 1998, natural increase—births minus deaths—amounted to 1,609,000, the net result of 3,941,000 births and 2,332,000 deaths. During that period the birthrate was 14.5 per 1,000 population, compared with 14.6 in the 12 months ended in January 1997. The fertility rate stood at about 2 as 1998 began. Data collected by the NCHS in 1998 revealed that the small decline in overall fertility since 1990, from 2.1 to 2 children, was largely accounted for by a drop in fertility among African-American women, from 2.5 in 1990 to 2.1 in 1996. The U.S. infant mortality rate continued to fall, reaching its lowest level ever at 7 for the 12-month period ended in January 1998. About 32.4% of births in 1997 were reported as occurring outside of marriage, the same as in 1996.

       Causes of Death in the United States The age-adjusted death rate for calendar 1997 declined to 478.1 deaths per 100,000 population, the lowest figure ever recorded and 3% below that of 1996. In 1998 the NCHS reported that in 1997 life expectancy at birth rose to a new high, 76.5 years. Female life expectancy was 79.2, a slight increase over the previous year, whereas male life expectancy rose a full half year, to 73.6. Life expectancy for white females approached 80 years, at 79.8, whereas that of white males was 74.3. African-American men had the lowest life expectancy of all groups, 67.3 years, but gained more than one full year over the previous period. African-American women reached 74.7. During the 12 months ended in June 1997, there was also a major decline in the number of deaths due to AIDS reported to the NCHS, dropping that cause of death from 8th to 11th place. (See Table (Causes of Death in the United States ).)

CARL V. HAUB

Refugees and International Migration
      In recent years complex ethnically based conflicts, mostly internal to one country and involving deeply divided communities, had resulted in increased numbers of displaced people. The total number of people of concern to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) stood at 22.3 million as of Jan. 1, 1998. This figure, which represented one out of every 264 living persons in the world, included 12 million refugees, 3.5 million returning refugees in the early stages of their reintegration, more than 900,000 asylum seekers, and 5.9 million internally displaced persons (persons in a refugee-like situation but who had not crossed an international border) and others of concern, mainly victims of conflict. The resolution of long-standing conflicts in recent years permitted many millions of refugees to return home. In 1997 some 900,000 returned to their countries of origin, which highlighted the fact that repatriation is the preferred solution for many of the world's refugees. Often, however, they returned to countries either emerging from conflict or still embroiled in it.

      Continued instability in the Great Lakes region of Africa caused protracted population movements both within the region and to surrounding countries. Refugees fleeing the conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire) arrived in Angola, Burundi, Republic of the Congo, and Tanzania. Some 260,000 Burundians in Tanzania constituted the region's largest single refugee group.

      The prospects for the repatriation and reintegration of refugees in West Africa became more promising as democratic processes and the rule of law began to be consolidated in the region in 1998. Hostilities in Sierra Leone early in the year, however, caused some 200,000 refugees to cross into Guinea and another 55,000 into Liberia. They joined those who had fled in previous years, bringing the total number of Sierra Leoneans living as refugees in neighbouring countries to some 450,000. In Guinea-Bissau unrest prompted tens of thousands of people to flee to the countryside, and late in the year most remained internally displaced. Since the presidential election and the end of the hostilities in 1997 in Liberia, a country that was devastated by one of the most brutal civil wars in Africa's history, some 50,000 refugees had returned to their homes by boat, truck, bus, and on foot, mainly from the two largest host countries, Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea. The repatriation of some 135,000 refugees to Mali and Niger marked the end of a displacement situation that had persisted since 1994.

      The refugee situation in the East Africa and Horn of Africa regions continued to be complex, with several long-standing problems still unresolved. Despite the promising peace agreement of April 1997, The Sudan's civil war continued unabated. Nevertheless, the repatriation of some 70,000 Ethiopian refugees from The Sudan was concluded in June 1998. In 1998 some 30,000 persons returned to northwestern Somalia, primarily from Ethiopia; at the year's end, however, peace initiatives sponsored by various governments had not yet achieved their objectives, and the majority of those displaced remained so. In southern Africa the steady deterioration of the security situation in Angola generated new outflows of refugees, the majority of whom, an estimated 25,000, were going to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

      The situation in Afghanistan did not improve during 1998. The absence of a political settlement, continued fighting between factions, related population displacements, and violations of basic human rights, especially those of women and girls, prolonged the human tragedy that the Afghan population had endured since 1980. Beginning in May 1997 the fighting in the northern part of Afghanistan caused serious disruptions in that region. Despite the continuing conflict, however, between January 1 and Nov. 30, 1997, 80,521 Afghans repatriated from Pakistan. During the same period 2,145 Afghan refugees returned from Iran, mainly to northwestern Afghanistan.

      Four years after some 370,000 Cambodian refugees repatriated from neighbouring countries, political violence and the ensuing military conflict between opposing alliances in Cambodia resulted in an outflow of some 20,000 refugees to Thailand in August 1997. Further conflict erupted toward the end of September 1997 in western Cambodia and resulted in an additional estimated 35,000 Cambodians seeking refuge across the Thai border. In May 1998, following more military activity in the country, an additional 15,000 Cambodians fled into Thailand.

      As a result of the 15 years of hostilities between the government of Sri Lanka and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and especially owing to an escalation of the conflict since the second half of 1995, more than 800,000 persons in Sri Lanka were internally displaced and dependent on humanitarian assistance in 1998. Refugee flight to India, however, remained limited, with only 1,802 persons arriving in that country during the first five months of 1998. In spite of the ongoing conflict, increasing numbers of the internally displaced were returning to their home areas in the Jaffna Peninsula at the northern tip of Sri Lanka.

      Between late 1991 and the middle of 1992, more than 250,000 people fled from Myanmar (Burma) to neighbouring Bangladesh. Since then some 229,000 persons had returned under a UNHCR-supported repatriation program, including some 10,000 refugees who voluntarily repatriated during 1997. At the same time, military activities in the eastern part of Myanmar displaced some 100,000 ethnic Karen and Karenni refugees. They were accommodated in 13 camps scattered along the Thai border with Myanmar, their return dependent on a resolution to the conflict across the border.

      As of January 1998, 93,000 Bhutanese refugees were accommodated and assisted by UNHCR in seven camps in eastern Nepal. During 1997 and the first half of 1998, discussions between the governments of Bhutan and Nepal on the problem of the refugees continued but did not result in a resolution to the situation.

      By early 1998 the Western Hemisphere had served as host to an estimated 1.4 million refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR. In 1997 some 3,750 Guatemalan refugees, the only large single remaining group of refugees in Latin America, repatriated to their homeland, for the most part from Mexico, which brought the total number of returnees who had repatriated to Guatemala under UNHCR auspices since 1984 to approximately 38,000. During the year concern focused on the rise in the level of forced displacement related to the widening of the Colombian conflict and the implications of those developments for neighbouring countries. Border regions adjacent to Panama, Ecuador, and Venezuela were among those most affected by violence and displacement. More than 300,000 persons were estimated to have been internally displaced in those areas since 1996.

      The U.S. continued to be the destination of the largest number of refugees resettled through UNHCR, with more than 70,000 resettled there in 1997. The number of asylum applications in North America fell dramatically in 1997 compared with the previous year, but the trend was reversed in Western Europe, where there was an overall increase of 10%. Government figures revealed that applications declined by 63,000 to 122,900 in the U.S. and by 3,500 to 22,600 in Canada. Whereas four European countries reported drops in applications, 15 European countries reported increased numbers of applicants, ranging from a 55% rise in The Netherlands to 171% in Italy and 225% in Ireland.

      More than 1.8 million people remained displaced in and outside former Yugoslavia. UNHCR estimated that some 120,000 refugees repatriated to Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1997, mainly to areas where their ethnic group was in the majority. Elsewhere in the region of former Yugoslavia, the crisis in Kosovo dramatically worsened during 1998. By September the conflict, which had affected the civilian population with great severity, had led to the displacement of more than 270,000 persons. Of those, UNHCR estimated that some 200,000 were internally displaced inside Kosovo, 56,000 had moved into other areas of Serbia and to Montenegro, and 13,000 had taken refuge in Albania and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. Of those displaced inside Kosovo, some 50,000 were thought to be living in the open in precarious conditions, which gave rise to concerns that another humanitarian catastrophe might be developing.

      On Jan. 1, 1998, an estimated 4 million forced migrants were present in Russia, of whom some 1.2 million were registered with the nation's Federal Migration Services. Of that figure a total of 153,000 persons were registered as internally displaced persons from the Chechen Republic and were located in all regions of Russia. In Georgia the fighting that broke out in the Gali region of Abkhazia in May 1998 forced up to 40,000 of an original population of more than 50,000 returnees to become displaced again.

UNHCR

▪ 1998

Introduction

Demography
      At midyear 1997 world population stood at 5,840,000,000, according to estimates prepared by the Population Reference Bureau. The 1997 figure was more than 800 million higher than in 1987, when world population first reached five billion. It was now clear that a six billion total in world population would be reached before 2000, most probably in 1999. The 1997 figure represented an increase of about 86 million over the previous year. The annual rate of increase declined to about 1.47% in 1997 from 1.52% in 1996, a result of birthrate declines in some less-developed countries (LDCs). If the 1997 growth rate were to continue, the world's population would double in 47 years. In 1997, 139 million babies were born, 126 million (over 90%) of them in LDCs. About 53 million people died worldwide. A smaller proportion (77%) of these were in the LDCs, a result of their much younger age structure.

      Worldwide, 56% of married couples in 1997 used some method of contraception, and half of all couples were using a "modern" method, such as clinically supplied contraceptives or sterilization. In the LDCs 54% were practicing some form of family planning, and 49% were using a modern one, the latter a slight increase over 1996. The proportion of couples using modern family-planning methods in LDCs excluding China was much lower, only 36%. Regionally, this figure was 58% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 54% in Asia, and only 18% in Africa.

      Worldwide, 32% of the population was below the age of 15 in 1997, but that figure was 38% in LDCs excluding China. In more developed countries (MDCs) only 20% were below age 15, as a result of the persistently low birthrate throughout Europe and in Japan. The continued younger age distribution of the LDCs in 1997 would result in a large number of people entering the childbearing ages in the near future, and so there was considerable potential for population growth in those areas. Only 4% of the population in LDCs excluding China was over the age of 65, compared with 14% in the MDCs. Sweden remained the country with the highest percentage of population above age 65 at 18%.

       World's 25 Most Populous Urban AreasNearly half, 43%, of the world population in 1997 lived in urban areas. In the LDCs 36% of the population was classified as urban, a slight increase over the previous year, compared with 74% in the MDCs. Among the world's least urbanized countries was Rwanda, with only 5% living in urban centres. (For the World's 25 Most Populous Urban Areas, see Table (World's 25 Most Populous Urban Areas).)

      Worldwide, life expectancy at birth was 64 years for males and 68 for females. In the MDCs the same figures were 71 and 78 and in the LDCs 62 and 65, respectively. The 1997 world infant mortality rate stood at 59 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. The lowest infant mortality rates were in Western and Northern Europe, at 5 and 6 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, respectively. Although there were small decreases in some LDCs, the overall rate remained at a high level, 64.

Less-Developed Countries.
      In 1997 the population of the LDCs grew at 1.81% per year, 2.09% for LDCs excluding China. The total population of the LDCs was 4,666,000,000, 80% of the world total. Of the 86 million people added annually to the world population, 98% were in the LDCs. In LDCs excluding China, women still averaged four children each, unchanged from a year earlier. This remained far from the "two-child family" essential to slowing population growth to zero and stabilizing world population size.

      During 1997 Africa remained the region with by far the highest fertility, an average of 5.6 children per woman, 6 in sub-Saharan Africa. New survey data released in 1997 indicated, however, that there was a continued slow decline in fertility in the region. The 1997 Demographic and Health Survey in Senegal indicated that the average number of children per woman declined from about 6 in 1992-93 to 5.7 in 1997. A similar survey in Zambia showed a decline from 6.5 in 1992 to 6.1 in 1996.

      Africa's population in 1997 totaled 743 million, an increase of about 20 million since 1996. The continent's annual growth rate was 2.6%, the world's highest by a wide margin and sufficient to double population size in only 26 years. In 1997 life expectancy in Africa, at 52 years for males and 55 for females, was the world's lowest. Infant mortality was the world's highest at 89 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

      In 1997 Latin America's population stood at 490 million, with an annual growth rate of 1.8%, slightly lower than in 1996. The average number of children per woman fell slightly in 1997, to 3, ranging from 5.2 in Honduras to 1.5 in Cuba. Life expectancy remained at 66 years for males and 72 for females. Infant mortality stood at 39.

      Asia's population was about 3.6 billion in 1997, by far the largest of the world's regions, up from 3.5 billion in 1996. The region's growth rate remained at about 1.6%, which resulted in a population increase of about 56 million. Life expectancy in Asia in 1997 stood at about 64 for males and 67 for females. Women averaged 2.9 children each, 3.5 excluding China. During 1997 data released for India in 1995 showed that the country's birthrate did not decline as much as expected. Early reports indicated that the number of new users of family planning fell sharply in 1996 as the government dropped specific demographic goals for its population program.

More Developed Countries.
      The population of the MDCs in 1997 was 1,175,000,000, only 4,000,000 higher than in 1996. The growth rate of these countries was barely over zero, at 0.1% annually. During 1997 Europe continued to report a negative rate of natural increase (birthrate minus death rate) of -0.1%, the first time in history that a major world region had done so. This was due primarily to the sharp drop of the birthrate in the European republics of the former Soviet Union and to continued low fertility in Western Europe. Latvia's record low rate of natural decrease continued at -0.7%. Once again, 13 European countries reported natural decrease rates: Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. Italy and Spain again exhibited the lowest birthrates in the world, with an average number of children per woman of only 1.2; Bulgaria, Czech Republic, and Latvia also registered rates of 1.2.

      Life expectancy at birth in Europe (including the European republics of the former Soviet Union) was 69 for males and 77 for females. A major development was the end of the life-expectancy decline in Russia. Life expectancy in Russia was reported to have risen in 1996 to 59.6 for males, up 1.3 years from 1995, and to 72.7 for women, up one year. Japan maintained its leading position on life expectancy, 83 for females and 77 for males. With a rate of 3.9 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, Finland reported the lowest infant mortality in the world, thereby replacing Japan, whose rate of 4 was tied with Singapore for second best.

United States.
       Causes of Death in the United StatesThe resident population of the U.S. was 267,575,000 on July 1, 1997, up from 265,284,000 a year earlier. This represented an increase of 2,291,000, or 0.86%. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that during the 12 months ended in January 1997, natural increase—births minus deaths—amounted to 1,574,000, the net result of 3,882,000 births and 2,308,000 deaths. (For Causes of Death in the United States, see Table (Causes of Death in the United States).) During that period the birthrate was 14.6 births per 1,000 population, compared with 14.7 in the 12 months ended in January 1996. This represented a much smaller decrease than for the same period in 1995-96. The average number of children per woman stood at about 2 as 1997 began. The U.S. infant mortality rate continued to fall, reaching its lowest level ever at 7.2 for the 12-month period ended in January 1997. Approximately 32% of the births during the 12 months ended June 1996 were reported as having occurred outside of marriage, about the same proportion as in the previous period.

      The age-adjusted death rate for 1996, 492.5 per 100,000 population, declined 2% from 1995. In 1997 the NCHS reported that in 1995 life expectancy at birth rose to a new high, 75.8 years. Female life expectancy was 78.9, a slight decline from the previous year, while male life expectancy rose slightly to 72.5. Life expectancy for white females approached 80 years, at 79.6, while that of white males was 73.4. Black men had the lowest life expectancy of all groups, 65.2 years, while for black females the figure was 73.9.

      There were 2,351,000 marriages in the United States in the 12-month period ended in January 1997, a slight increase from 2,324,000 one year earlier. The marriage rate was 8.9 marriages per 1,000 population, virtually the same as in the previous 12-month period. The number of divorces decreased from 1,167,000 to 1,148,000.

CARL V. HAUB

Refugees and International Migration
      By 1997 the massive humanitarian crises that arose during the first half of the 1990s had largely abated, although longer-term rehabilitation and reconstruction efforts continued on behalf of the people uprooted by those events. Overall, the world's refugee population decreased from 15.5 million in 1996 to 13.2 million in 1997. Similarly, the overall population of concern to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) fell to some 22.7 million, representing one out of every 255 people on Earth. Of this figure, in addition to the 13.2 million refugees, 3.3 million were returnees, 4.9 million were internally displaced persons (persons in a refugee-like situation but who had not crossed an international border), and 1.4 million were others of humanitarian concern, mainly victims of conflict. UNHCR continued to implement its distinctive international protection mandate in respect to those persons, which involved safeguarding and developing principles of refugee protection, strengthening international commitments, and promoting durable solutions, be they in the form of voluntary repatriation, local integration, or resettlement.

      More than two million refugees returned to their countries of origin in the latter half of 1996 and the first half of 1997, which highlighted the fact that repatriation is the preferred solution for many of the world's refugees. Often, however, they returned to fragile or unstable situations.

      The Great Lakes region of Africa, where more than two million Rwandans and Burundians fled their countries in 1994, remained a major focus of humanitarian concern. The events in former Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Congo [Kinshasa]) during the first months of 1997 led to the return of Rwandan refugees from that country to their homeland. Locating refugees after they dispersed from camps in eastern Zaire became a predominant objective early in the year. In spite of the harsh conditions and the ongoing conflict, tens of thousands of refugees were found surviving in the surrounding forests, living in dismal conditions. Repatriation operations were mounted, using all means available, and some 180,000 of these refugees were returned to Rwanda. Though more than 860,000 Rwandan refugees were returned to Rwanda in the last half of 1996 and in 1997, thousands remained away from their homeland, spread among 10 countries in the region, while up to 190,000 more remained unaccounted for. The forced repatriation of several hundred Rwandan refugees in August and September 1997 from countries in the region raised great concern and caused UNHCR to suspend its operations on behalf of Rwandan refugees in the Congo (Kinshasa). In Rwanda itself the country was struggling with the aftermath of the Hutu-Tutsi conflict while trying to absorb the estimated 2.8 million refugees who had returned since 1994. At the end of 1997, some 74,000 Congolese (former Zairian) refugees remained in Tanzania, although their gradual repatriation was under way. There were also large groups of Burundian refugees in Tanzania and the Congo (Kinshasa). Their return was contingent on the restoration of stability in Burundi.

      In southern Africa the violence that not so long ago had permeated the region was replaced by relative peace, stability, and national reconciliation. The implementation of the 1994 peace accord that ended 20 years of civil war in Angola raised hopes that the more than 300,000 refugees currently outside the country could begin returning home in the near future, this being the largest remaining refugee population in the region. Despite setbacks in the peace process, as of mid-1997 a total of some 96,000 refugees had spontaneously returned to Angola.

      In western Africa renewed violence in Sierra Leone delayed the planned repatriation of some 375,000 refugees, who, for the most part, had sought asylum in Guinea and Liberia. The coup on May 25 in Freetown resulted in the outflow of an additional 38,000 refugees into those neighbouring countries. In Liberia the peace process made progress. The successful disarmament and demobilization exercise conducted in February and the holding of legislative and presidential elections in July were expected to lead to the return of the more than 500,000 Liberian refugees who were living in Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria and thus bring to an end one of the worst civil wars on the African continent. In Western Sahara renewed efforts to reinvigorate the United Nations Settlement Plan were beginning to reinstill hope that this long-standing dispute could be resolved peacefully and allow for some 165,000 refugees to return to their homeland.

      During the first half of 1997 in the Horn of Africa and eastern Africa, a region emerging from years of prolonged conflict, approximately 7,000 Ethiopian refugees returned home from The Sudan and more than 7,000 Somali refugees were repatriated from eastern Ethiopia to northwestern Somalia. The onset of the rainy season, however, postponed further returns until later in the year. The return of more than 320,000 Eritrean refugees from The Sudan, however, was delayed by a stalemate in discussions over the procedures to be followed for their repatriation.

      In Bosnia and Herzegovina the guns had fallen silent following the signing of the Dayton Accords in December 1995. More than 250,000 people had by mid-1997 settled or resettled in areas where their ethnic group was in the majority, by far the largest numbers coming from Germany. The return of ethnic minorities to their former homes, however, continued to be difficult. UNHCR, the lead agency for humanitarian operations in former Yugoslavia, was attempting to overcome the persistent obstacles to the return of displaced persons and refugees to these so-called minority areas by launching an "Open Cities" initiative, whereby towns and areas in Bosnia and Herzegovina were invited to declare their readiness to accept the return of former inhabitants, regardless of their origins. A number of towns and areas responded favourably, but significant progress was slow. The return of refugees to Croatia was also negligible, despite commitments established between the government of Croatia, UNHCR, and the United Nations Transitional Administration for Eastern Slavonia, Baranja, and Western Sirmium (UNTAES) to accelerate movements into and out of Krajina and Eastern and Western Slavonia.

      Elsewhere in Europe negotiations were under way on the conflict between Georgia and its breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which had displaced an estimated 38,000 persons from Georgia, forcing them to seek asylum in Russia. In the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States, legislation to address refugee flows and migratory movements affecting an estimated nine million persons was beginning to be fostered. In Central Europe during the first half of 1997, some 31,000 Albanian refugees fled unrest and uncertainty in the country, seeking temporary asylum in Italy and Greece. Many later returned to Albania following the deployment of a Multinational Protection Force and moves by the authorities in Albania to restore stability to the country. In Western Europe the number of people seeking asylum continued to decline, partly as a result of stricter visa requirements, reinforced border controls, and, in some countries, restricted social benefits. The rate of recognition of those who were applying for refugee status dropped from 42% in 1984 to some 10% by the mid-1990s. New applications for asylum declined nearly 10% in 1996 from a year earlier.

      The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the subsequent 18 years of civil war led to the uprooting of more than six million Afghans, one-third of the nation's population. Afghan refugees constituted the largest refugee caseload of concern to UNHCR, with 1.4 million persons in Iran and 1.2 million in Pakistan. In addition, up to one million persons were displaced inside the country, most of them since 1993. Between Oct. 1, 1996, and May 1, 1997, more than a quarter of a million people were displaced within Afghanistan or became refugees in Pakistan; approximately 80% of them had left Kabul for a variety of reasons, including fear of persecution by the new conservative faction that controlled much of the nation and its prohibition on women's working outside the home and receiving education. Despite the ongoing conflict, several thousand refugees returned to areas of relative safety in Afghanistan, mainly rural regions.

      Afghanistan also had served as host to some 60,000 Tajik refugees who had fled the 1992-93 civil war in Tajikistan. Most of them had returned to their homeland by mid-1997, about 20,000 remaining in northern Afghanistan. The peace talks in Tajikistan, initiated in the first quarter of 1997, were aimed at improving political and security conditions in that nation and served as an encouragement for higher levels of repatriation.

      In Southeast Asia the recent power struggle in Cambodia overshadowed the successful operations with respect to refugees in the region. In July and August some 28,000 Cambodians fled renewed fighting in Cambodia, crossing the border into Thailand. More than 3,000 of them later returned voluntarily despite the precarious conditions at the border area. Following the conclusion of the Comprehensive Plan of Action in June 1996, more than 24,000 Vietnamese boat people returned to Vietnam in late 1996 and the first half of 1997. Some 1,700 Vietnamese remained in Hong Kong after the transfer of the territory to Chinese sovereignty on July 1. In Myanmar (Burma) more than 220,000 Muslim refugees from Rakhine state, who had fled their country in late 1991 and 1992, returned to their homes. Some 21,000 remained in camps in Bangladesh, pending discussions between the two nations on possible solutions to their plight. Elsewhere in Asia more than 90,000 Bhutanese of Nepalese origin remained stranded in southeastern Nepal after having been uprooted from their country in 1991 and 1992. Renewed military activities in Sri Lanka caused large-scale internal displacement in the north of the country. More than 500,000 persons were forced to flee by the fighting, and some 8,000 arrived in India, the first outflow of people from Sri Lanka in recent years.

      New waves of internal displacement in Colombia, caused by the actions of leftist guerrillas and right-wing paramilitary groups and security forces, caused increased concern in the region. As many as one million persons were estimated to be internally displaced in Colombia. The numbers seeking refuge across international borders were, however, negligible, owing in part to the rugged terrain in that part of the country. Guatemalan refugees, approximately 38,000 of whom remained in camps and settlements in Mexico, continued to return to their country.

      In North America recent changes in immigration laws placed new requirements and limitations on asylum seekers. Stricter deadlines for filing applications and tighter control of ports of entry were among new initiatives to discourage illegal immigration. Despite these tendencies toward further restrictions on immigration, the United States and Canada were increasing their efforts to address the issues of requests for asylum by those who had suffered from sexual violence and from discrimination based on gender.

UNHCR
      This article updates population.

▪ 1997

Introduction

DEMOGRAPHY
      At midyear 1996 world population stood at 5,771,000,000, according to estimates prepared by the Population Reference Bureau. The figure is almost 800 million higher than in 1987, when world population first reached 5 billion. The 1996 total represented an increase of about 88 million over the previous year. The annual rate of increase declined to about 1.52% in 1996 from 1.54% in 1995, a result of birthrate declines in both less-developed and industrialized nations. If the 1996 growth rate were to continue, the world's population would double in 46 years.

      In 1996, 140 million babies were born, 126 million (90%) in less-developed countries (LDCs). Each day world population increased by 240,000, the result of 383,000 births and 143,000 deaths. New data from censuses in the following countries were reported to the United Nations in 1996.

      Worldwide, 57% of married couples in 1996 used one or more methods of contraception. Exactly half of all couples were using a "modern" method such as clinically supplied contraceptive devices or sterilization. In the less-developed countries, 54% were practicing some form of family planning and 48% were using a modern one. This proportion, however, dropped sharply for LDCs other than China, where a vigorous family-planning program raised usage to high levels. Excluding China, only 35% of couples in the LDCs were using a modern method of family planning. This dropped to a low of 11% in sub-Saharan Africa and reached a high in Latin America and the Caribbean, at 53%.

      Worldwide, 32% of the population was below the age of 15 in 1996, but that figure was 38% in LDCs outside China. In the more developed countries (MDCs), 20% were below age 15, and that dropped as low as 15% in Italy and 16% in Germany and Japan. The continued high percentage of young people in the LDCs would result in a large number of youth entering the childbearing ages in the near future and, consequently, considerable potential for population growth. This situation remained unchanged in 1996. Only 5% of the population in the LDCs was over the age of 65, compared with 14% in the MDCs. Sweden, with 17%, remained the country with the highest percentage above age 65.

       World's 25 Most Populous Urban AreasNearly half, 43%, of the world population in 1995 lived in urban areas. (For the World's 25 Most Populous Urban Areas, see Table (World's 25 Most Populous Urban Areas).) In the LDCs 35% was classified as urban, compared with 75% in the MDCs. Among the world's least urbanized countries was Rwanda, with only 5% living in urban centres.

      Throughout the world life expectancy at birth was 64 years for males and 68 for females. In the MDCs the same figures were 70 and 78 and in the LDCs, 62 and 65, respectively. The 1996 world infant mortality rate stood at 62 infant deaths per 1,000 live births. For the first time, infant mortality in the MDCs fell to single digits, nine infant deaths per 1,000 live births, but it remained at a high level of 68 in the LDCs.

Less-Developed Countries.
      In 1996 the population of the LDCs grew at 1.9% per year; for the LDCs other than China, the rate was 2.2%. The growth rate of the latter countries, should it continue, would cause their population to double in only 32 years. Of the 88 million people added to the world population during the year, 98% were living in LDCs. At the 1996 pace of childbearing, the total fertility rate, the average number of children a woman would bear during her lifetime at the current rate, was 3.4 in the LDCs, slightly down from the 3.5 figure in 1995. In the LDCs, excluding the large statistical effect of China's 1.2 billion population, women averaged four children each, unchanged from a year earlier. This remained far from the "two-child family" essential to slowing population growth to zero and stabilizing world population size.

      During 1996 Africa remained the region with the highest fertility, an average of 5.7 children per woman, 6.1 in populous sub-Saharan Africa. Debate concerning future population growth in Africa increased in 1996 for two reasons. First, while there were indications that the birthrate in Africa may have begun a slow decline, the speed of the decline was in doubt. Second, the effect of AIDS in Africa made news in 1996, particularly with new U.S. Census Bureau studies of the prevalence of the disease. These studies now pointed to higher death rates in at least 20 countries. Nonetheless, in the long term, even severe effects of AIDS would likely result in a reduction of sub-Saharan Africa's population by only about 100 million, or less than 10% of the total, by 2025.

      In 1996 life expectancy in Africa, at 53 years for males and 56 for females, was the world's lowest. But with the world's highest birthrate, the continent had the world's fastest population growth, at 2.8% annually. Overall, Africa's population was 732 million, up from 720 million in 1995.

      In 1996 Latin America's population totaled 486 million, and the annual growth rate was 1.9%, the same as in 1995. The total fertility rate (TFR) remained at 3.1, ranging from 5.2 in Honduras to 1.5 in Cuba, the latter being the lowest level of fertility ever recorded in the region. Life expectancy remained at 66 years for males and 72 for females.

      Asia's population was 3.5 billion in 1996, by far the largest of the world's continents. The growth rate fell slightly to 1.6%, but if China was excluded, it remained at a high 1.9%. With a very low TFR of 1.8, China, as was the case in the industrialized countries, was facing some of the problems associated with aging. Speculation centred on possible future increases in China's birthrate, which might reverse the downward trend in the world population growth rate. In India prospects for continued decline in the birthrate were of major interest. Data released in 1996 revealed that in the country's most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, the total fertility rate was 4.5, well above the national average of 3.4. The future trend of fertility in this and other states with high fertility and illiteracy would play a significant role in the growth of India's population, which stood at 950 million in 1996.

More Developed Countries.
      During 1996 Europe continued to report a negative rate of natural increase (birthrate minus the death rate) of -0.1%. This was primarily due to the collapse of the birthrate in the European republics of the former Soviet Union and to continued low fertility in Western Europe. In 1996 Latvia set a record for natural decrease at -0.7%. No fewer than 13 countries of Europe experienced more annual deaths than births: Belarus, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. The total fertility rate dropped to the 1.3-1.5 range in Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, and Ukraine. For many of the countries of the former Soviet Union, life expectancy fell even farther than in previous years. In Russia male life expectancy dropped to only 57 years, nearly as low as in many industrialized countries at the beginning of the 20th century. The highest life expectancy was in Japan, 83 for females, while males in Iceland enjoyed a life expectancy of 77. Japan also recorded the lowest rate of infant mortality in the world, 4.2 infant deaths per 1,000 live births.

      The population of the U.S. was 265,575,000 in September 1996, up from 263,211,000 a year earlier. This represented an increase of 2,364,000, or 0.9%. The National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) reported that during the 12 months ended in February 1996, natural increase amounted to 1,563,000, the net result of 3,877,000 births and 2,314,000 deaths. During that period the birthrate dropped to 14.7 births per 1,000 population, compared with 15.2 in the 12 months ended in February 1995. The U.S. total fertility rate declined to 1.97, the first time since 1989 that it had been below two children per woman. Natural increase through February 1996 was 110,000 less than in the previous 12-month period, which signaled a reversal of the rising trend that had begun in the late 1980s.

       Causes of death in the United StatesThe age-adjusted death rate in the U.S. for the 12-month period ended in January 1996 was 501.6 per 100,000 population, a decline of 1.2% from the same period of the previous year. (For leading causes of death in the U.S., see Table (Causes of death in the United States).) The infant mortality rate for the period ended in February 1996—7.5 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, compared with 7.9 a year earlier—continued the sharp decline of the previous few years. The NCHS reported that during 1994 life expectancy at birth rose again after having declined slightly in the previous year. At 75.7 years in 1994, it nearly equaled the all-time high of 75.8, set in 1992. Female life expectancy was 79, while that of males rose to 72.4. African-American men had the lowest life expectancy in 1994, 64.9 years, but the gain over 1993's 64.7 years reversed a one-year downward trend.

      (CARL V. HAUB)

REFUGEES AND INTERNATIONAL MIGRATION
      In the absence of massive new refugee influxes on the scale experienced in recent years, the world's refugee population decreased from 14.5 million to 13.2 million in 1996. More than one million refugees returned to their country of origin, which reflected the increasing focus on repatriation as a solution for many of the world's displaced people. Similarly, the overall population of concern to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) fell to some 26.1 million, of whom 3.4 million were returnees, 4.6 million were internally displaced persons (persons who were in a refugee-like situation but had not crossed an international border), and 4.8 million were others of humanitarian concern, for the most part victims of conflict. UNHCR continued to implement its distinctive international protection mandate in respect to those persons, which involved promoting, safeguarding, and developing principles of refugee protection; strengthening international commitments; and promoting durable solutions, be they in the form of voluntary repatriation, local integration, or resettlement.

      For the most part of 1996, there was little change in the humanitarian crisis affecting the African Great Lakes region, where more than two million Rwandans and Burundians had fled their countries in 1994. Large-scale return movements from Zaire, where many had settled, to Rwanda began in December 1996 as conflict engulfed eastern Zaire. At one time, in mid-December, the number of persons crossing the border between Zaire and Tanzania was estimated at as many as 15,000 each hour. Following this development, the government of Tanzania, having determined that the conditions in Rwanda allowed people to return in safety, took steps to begin the repatriation of the approximately 535,000 Rwandan refugees on its territory.

      In southern Africa operations for the voluntary repatriation of some 1.7 million refugees from Mozambique concluded after 17 years of conflict and devastation. In contrast, in West Africa renewed violence in Liberia postponed efforts to repatriate some 750,000 Liberian refugees. In nearby Mali, however, political stability allowed for the repatriation of more than 100,000 Malian refugees from Algeria, Burkina Faso, Mauritania, and Niger. The Horn of Africa and East Africa, emerging from years of prolonged conflict, saw the return of some 27,000 Ethiopian and 25,000 Eritrean refugees from The Sudan. An estimated 500,000 Somali refugees had returned to Somalia from Kenya and Ethiopia during the past few years.

      In former Yugoslavia, as a result of the cessation of hostilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an estimated 250,000 people—mostly internally displaced persons—had, by the end of 1996, settled or resettled in areas where their ethnic group was in the majority. Reconstruction activities, such as UNHCR's shelter project, which repaired some 20,000 homes, were gathering momentum and helping to create conditions favourable for the return of refugees and displaced persons. Many of those who returned, however, especially the Bosnian Serbs, continued to face many political, psychological, and practical obstacles.

      In the Caucasus, where some 1.1 million refugees and displaced persons fled as a result of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno Karabakh, UNHCR continued to promote and facilitate local solutions, pending the result of ongoing peace negotiations. In the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), the far-reaching geopolitical changes following the breakup of the former Soviet Union had resulted in an estimated nine million people moving within or between countries of the CIS. Of these, some 2.3 million internally displaced persons and approximately 70,000 refugees were victims of conflicts. Recognizing the scale and complexity of these movements, UNHCR, together with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, held a regional conference in Geneva on May 30-31. A "Program of Action," a comprehensive framework for managing migratory flows as well as for developing institutional capacity to prevent mass displacement, was drawn up. While implementation of the program essentially rested with the CIS countries, UNHCR and the IOM began developing a three-to-four-year joint strategy to guide their activities in the region.

      In Western Europe the number of people seeking asylum continued to decline, partly as a result of visa requirements, reinforced border controls, and restricted social benefits in some countries. The rate of recognition of those applying for refugee status had dropped from 42% in 1984 to some 10% by the mid-1990s.

      Afghan refugees, who began streaming out of their country after its invasion by Soviet forces in 1979, continued to constitute the largest refugee caseload of concern to UNHCR, with 1.4 million persons in Iran and 820,000 in Pakistan. Despite the continuing civil war in Afghanistan, however, approximately 130,000 refugees returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran in 1996, which brought the total number of returnees to some 3,890,000. As of September, Kabul, along with Jalalabad and the remainder of the eastern areas of Afghanistan, had come under control of the Taliban forces, who quickly enforced strict Islamic rules. This violent and sudden change in the control of these important population centres resulted in large-scale internal displacements and renewed refugee outflows into Pakistan. Many of those who fled included women, to whom the Taliban denied access to education and the freedom to work outside their homes. Efforts to engage the parties in a negotiation process continued, as did rehabilitation projects to encourage returns and reintegration in peaceful areas of the country.

      In Iraq armed conflict in August 1996 between two opposing Kurdish factions resulted in significant population displacements, both within Iraq and into Iran. The majority of those persons, however, returned to Iraq after October. In Yemen the influx of new arrivals from Somalia increased during the first quarter of 1996, mainly as a result of security problems and renewed fighting in Somalia. Most asylum seekers traveled by boat to Yemen from Boosaaso, in northeastern Somalia, in dangerous conditions caused by the prevailing monsoon season.

      In Southeast Asia the successful conclusion of the Comprehensive Plan of Action (CPA) for Indochinese refugees ended more than 20 years of international humanitarian efforts to resolve the aftermath of the conflict in that region. Since 1975 some 1,075,000 Vietnamese and Laotian refugees had fled their homelands, and the majority had resettled in other countries. By the end of 1996, Vietnam had received back almost 100,000 Vietnamese since the implementation of the CPA in 1989; just over 6,000 Vietnamese remained in camps in Hong Kong. UNHCR continued to advocate the voluntary return of some 40,000 Muslim refugees from Myanmar (Burma), who were in Bangladesh, and for solutions for the approximately 85,000 Bhutanese stranded in southeastern Nepal, two situations intimately linked to the political will of the governments concerned.

      In the Americas and the Caribbean at the beginning of 1996, there were more than 1.5 million refugees and returnees of concern to UNHCR. Of this total, however, only some 82,300 continued to be in need of material support from UNHCR. This stood in sharp contrast to the situation that had prevailed in the region less than a decade earlier, prior to the 1989 International Conference on Central American Refugees and the profound political changes that had taken place in large parts of Latin America. The only major refugee situation that required sustained attention was that of the Guatemalan refugees, some 38,000 of whom remained in camps and settlements in Mexico. Reconciliation in Guatemala, however, ending 36 years of civil conflict, was expected to help to resolve the situation, as was the recent agreement of the Mexican government to allow those not wishing to return to settle in Mexico.

      In North America, despite the tendency toward further immigration restrictions, the United States and Canada increased their efforts to address the issues of asylum requests resulting from sexual violence and discrimination based on gender. The U.S. Congress in September approved a bill that would make it more difficult for illegal aliens to cross the nation's borders, speeded the deportation of criminal aliens, and restricted some public benefits to legal immigrants; such immigrants could be deported if they received public benefits, including child care, for more than 12 months. (UNHCR)

      This article updates population.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

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