The population of Albania in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 3,166,000, which placed it as number 128 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 6% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 32% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 104 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 0.68%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 3,440,000. The population density in 2002 was 109 per sq km (282 per sq mi).
It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 42% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001. The capital city, Tiranë, had a population of 279,000 in that year. Other important towns include Durrës, 72,400; Shkodër, 71,200; Elbasan, 69,900; and Vlorë, 61,100. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 2.0%.
The population increase in Albania has been exceptionally rapid by European standards. The birthrate, despite a decline from over 40 births per 1,000 of population in the 1950s to 19 in 2000, remains among the highest in Europe. The high birthrate is partially attributed to the ban on birth control during the communist era. Another contributing factor to the population growth is the increase in life expectancy to an average of 74 years of age.