The population of Madagascar in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 17,404,000, which placed it as number 56 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 45% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 99 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 2.84%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 24,000,000. The population density in 2002 was 29 per sq km (75 per sq mi). The western part of the country is the least densely populated.
It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 30% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. The capital city, Antananarivo, had a population of 1,432,000 in that year. Other important cities and their populations are Fianarantsoa, 300,000; Antsiranana (Diégo-Suarez), 220,000; Toamasina, 230,000; Antsirabe, 220,000; and Mahajanga (Majunga), 200,000. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 4.8%.