Algeria's population in January 1990 was 25.1 million, of whom 12.4 million were female and almost 12.7 were male. The figure compared with 12 million recorded in the 1966 census, 8.7 million on the eve of the War of Independence in 1954, and 4 million at the turn of the century. During the first twenty years after independence in 1962, the population doubled. The United States government estimate of Algeria's population in 1993 was 27.4 million, and projections were that there would be 32.5 million people in the country by the year 2000.
Various French censuses conducted during the colonial period were inexact surveys relying on such techniques as counting tents and multiplying by six to determine the number of nomads. The surveys were enough, however, to paint a picture of a quickening rate of population growth, the average annual rate of increase rising from 0.5 percent between 1900 and 1910 to 2.7 percent between 1950 and 1955. During the period of hostilities that extended from 1954 to 1962, the population grew at a greatly reduced rate because of the number of people killed in the war. The exact number of deaths is not known; French officials estimated it at 350,000, but Algerians placed it at 1.5 million.
Population growth resumed at the end of hostilities, and in 1966 the annual growth rate was estimated at 3.3 percent. Subsequently, the rate rose to 3.4 percent before subsiding to 3.2 percent in the late 1970s, 3.1 in the early 1980s, and 2.8 percent for the 1990s, according to World Bank projections.
The crude birth rate per 1,000 inhabitants fell in 1989 to 34.3 from 45 in 1985, 48.8 for the 1970 to 1975 period, and 50.4 for the 1960 to 1965 period, as estimated by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (UN) and by the World Bank. Under progressively improving conditions of health and sanitation, the crude death rate declined from twenty-four deaths per 1,000 in the period from 1950 to 1955 to eighteen per 1,000 in 1965, three years after independence. By 1990 it had fallen to eight per 1,000. Life expectancy at birth rose from forty-two years for males and forty-four for females in the 1950 to 1955 period, to forty-nine years for males and fifty-one years for females in 1965, to sixty-five years for males and sixty-six for females in 1990, a marked improvement reflecting the major transformations in the health sector.
From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the average Algerian woman produced seven to eight children. The figure rose to slightly more than nine for women who married before the age of eighteen, but fell to nearly seven in the case of females who married after the age of twenty-one. The birth rate was only slightly lower in urban than in rural areas. In 1990 it was estimated that the total fertility rate had fallen to 5.1 children per woman, a considerable decline.
The 1966 census showed that the population was very young; some 48.2 percent of Algerians were under the age of fifteen. The 1977 census confirmed this pattern, although the age-group under fifteen declined slightly to 47.9 percent of the population. By 1990, only 40.6 percent of the population (10.6 million Algerians) were under the age of fifteen. The proportion of the population under nineteen also showed signs of decline. In the mid-1980s, official sources reported that about 57 percent of the population was under age nineteen, but by 1990 that age-group constituted just over one-half the population, or 51.2 percent, a drop of almost 6 percentage points in five years.
In terms of age structure, detailed data showed that in 1990 males were slightly more numerous than females at birth and through the forty- to forty-four age-group. Thereafter, women predominated in all age categories because of the somewhat higher death rates for men than for women in the higher age-groups.
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