The population of the Bahamas in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 295,000, which placed it as number 168 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 5% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 29% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 97 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 1.13%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 351,000. The average population density in 2002 was 22 per sq km (58 per sq mi), but the density on New Providence is over 800 per sq km (2,070 per sq mi).
It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 89% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. Some two-thirds of the people reside on the island of New Providence, the site of Nassau, the capital and largest city with a population of 214,000. The population of Freeport on Grand Bahama Island grew from a few hundred in 1960 to an estimated 24,423 in the 1990s. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 1.6%.
The first census was conducted in 1838, and in 1980 a law was passed requiring one to be conducted every ten years. The population in the 1990 census was 255,095, an increase of 22% over the 1980 census figure of 209,505. Only 30 to 40 of the islands are inhabited.