The population of Bangladesh in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 146,736,000, which placed it as number 7 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 3% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 40% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 105 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 2.02%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 181,428,000. The population density in 2002 was 928 per sq km (2,403 per sq mi).
It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 25% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001, up from 11% in 1980. The capital city, Dhaka, had a population of 11,726,000 in 2002. Other large cities are Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Barisal, Rangpur, and Jessores. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 4.0%. The population is still heavily rural, with the great majority living in more than 85,000 villages.
Bangladesh is one of the world's most densely populated nations, and controlling population growth is a major government priority. The annual population growth declined from 3.4% in 1975 to 2.2% in 1991 to an estimated 1.9% in 1996. However, the growth rate is on the rise, and the country remains vastly impoverished. Life expectancy is 59 years, and infant mortality rates remain high.