The population of Niger in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 11,972,000, which placed it as number 70 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 2% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 50% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 102 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 3.62%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 18,317,000. The population density in 2002 was 9 per sq km (24 per sq mi). Most of the population is concentrated in the fertile southern regions. Much of the land is uninhabited except for some nomadic herders.
It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 21% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. The capital city, Niamey, had a population of 731,000 in that year. Other major cities are Zinder, 120,900; Maradi, 113,000; Tahoua, 51,600; and Agadez, 50,200. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 5.5%.