History of the Census
On average every ten years since 1842, Malta has been conducting the Census of Population and Housing, during which a count of all persons, households and dwellings is taken. The Census is the most complete available source of information about the population in the country.
Early Population Counts
In 1240 A.D. circa, a report by a certain Abate Giliberto put the number of families living in the Islands of Malta and Gozo at 1,119. The Archives relating to Maltese medieval demographic history show that a “Census of Population and Production” was conducted in 1481 A.D. Its purpose was to record the local production and stocks of wheat, as well as to enumerate the consumers. At the time of its publication, it was quaintly described as a Census of “mouths” and “wheat”. The results of this Census are not known, but three decades into the 17th century, specifically in 1632, a census recorded the number of people living in the Islands at 51,750. Table 1 depicts a series of population counts and estimates dating to the earliest records up to just before 1842, when the line of “modern censuses” was initiated. This table should be read with caution. Modern research has demonstrated the need to be extremely wary of the use of information emanating from early population counts. Documentation on Maltese medieval history is scanty and often unreliable when dealing with demographic and social data. It would seem that, in so far as demographic data prior to the 19th century are concerned, the only two reliable sources are (1) the Militia Lists and (2) the Parochial Registers.
Table 1. Population censuses and estimates prior to 1842
|Source: Information adapted from Census 1957.|
Censuses in the 19th Century
Censuses in the 20th Century
Table 2. Population: 1842-2005
|Census Date||Population||Percentage intercensal
|No. of males per
|1842, March 21||114499||55168||59331||930|
|1851, March 31||123496||60456||63040||7.86||9.59||6.25||959|
|1861, October 31||134055||66270||67785||8.55||9.62||7.53||978|
|1871, May 3||141775||69952||71823||5.76||5.56||5.96||974|
|1881, April 3||149782||73430||76352||5.65||4.97||6.31||962|
|1891, April 5||165037||81316||83721||10.18||10.74||9.65||971|
|1901, March 31||184742||91994||92748||11.94||13.13||10.78||992|
|1911, April 2||211564||105601||105963||14.52||14.79||14.25||997|
|1921, April 24||212258||102745||109513||0.33||-2.7||3.35||938|
|1931, April 26||241621||117457||124164||13.83||14.32||13.38||946|
|1948, June 14||305991||150665||155326||26.64||28.27||25.1||970|
|1957, November 30||319620||153108||166512||4.45||1.62||7.2||920|
|1967, November 26||314216||150598||163618||-1.69||-1.64||-1.74||920|
|1985, November 16||345418||169832||175586||9.93||12.77||7.31||967|
|1995, November 26||378132||186836||191296||9.47||10.01||8.95||977|
|2005, November 27||404962||200819||204143||7.1||7.48||6.72||984|
|2011, November 20||417432||207625||209807||3.1||3.3||2.8||990|
Permanent legislation for the taking of a census of population was enacted in Malta in 1948 on the occasion of the post-Second-World-War Census. Act II of 1948 was passed by the Legislative Assembly and assented to by the Governor of Malta, Governor Sir Francis C.R. Douglas on 28th February 1948. This Act constitutes the legal basis for all the population censuses taken in and after 1948 and also for the Census to be carried out in November 2005. A silhouette of all the censuses carried out from 1842 to date is presented in Table 2.
Method of Conducting the Census
Processing Census Data
Figure 1: Hollerith punch card
The Hollerith machine system was used from the mid-Fifties onwards by Maltese government departments for the processing of all types of data
Table 3. A stock-take of census publications since 1957
|Preliminary report||Preliminary report||Preliminary report||Preliminary report||Preliminary report||Preliminary report|
|1957 Census Silhouette||Report on Housing Characteristics||A Demographic Profile of Malta and Gozo||Vol. 1 Population, Age, Gender and Citizenship||Vol. 1 Population||Final report|
|Report on Population and Housing||Report on Economic Activities Vols. I and II||A Computer-drawn Demographic Atlas of Malta and Gozo||Vol. 2 Fertility||Vol. 2 Dwellings|
|Report on Economic Activities||Report on Population Characteristics||Vol. 3 Nuptiality and Households|
|Maltese Life Table||Vol. 4 Education and Economic Activity|
|Source: National Statistics Office|
The last Census held in 2011
- The population of Malta as at 20 November 2011 stood at 417,432 persons, nearly double the count a century ago.
- More females than males were enumerated although the gap between the sexes continued to narrow.
- The average age stood at 40.5 years, indicating a shift towards an ageing population.
- Nearly 21 thousand non-Maltese national was enumerated.
- Private households numbered nearly 153 thousand while the total stock of dwellings stood at nearly 224 thousand with almost a third being unoccupied.
- Malta ranked first in terms of the most densely populated country across the EU, with 1,556 persons/km2.
- Smaller private households were also on the increase due to an increase in single‐person households.
Chart 1. Population growth: 1842 – 2011