The population of Belgium in 2003 was estimated by the United Nations at 10,318,000, which placed it as number 75 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In that year approximately 17% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 18% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 96 males for every 100 females in the country in 2003. According to the UN, the annual population growth rate for 2000–2005 is 0.21%, with the projected population for the year 2015 at 10,470,000. The population density in 2002 was 337 per sq km (874 per sq mi), making it one of the most densely populated countries in the world.
It was estimated by the Population Reference Bureau that 97% of the population lived in urban areas in 2001, up from 95% in 1980. The capital city, Brussels, had a population of 1,121,000 in that year. Other major urban areas are located within 100 km (60 mi) of Brussels. The largest cities include Antwerp (Antwerpen, Anvers), 470,349; Gent (Ghent, Gand), 230,543; Charleroi, 206,779; Liège (Luik), 196,825; Brugge (Bruges), 117,460; and Namur (Namen), 103,466. According to the United Nations, the urban population growth rate for 2000–2005 was 0.1%.
The government has conducted a census every 10 years since 1848. Since 1984 the registration of births and deaths has been delegated to the Flemish and Walloon language communities. Belgium's population has distinctive language and ethnic divisions. The Ardennes region in the south is the least densely populated region.