Zimbabwe population growth slows, 3 million abroad

December 19, 2012 - 5:33 AM

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe's official statistics agency says the nation's population rose to 12.9 million in the past decade but the annual growth rate declined to a low of 1.1 percent. Average growth stood at about 3 percent before political turmoil and an economic meltdown beginning in 1998 drove more than 3 million Zimbabweans abroad as economic fugitives and asylum seekers, according to United Nations and World Bank reports.

The state Zimstats office, releasing first results of a new census, did not acknowledge the absentees Wednesday, saying its tally was based on Zimbabweans living in the country on the night of Aug. 18. It said households have declined to an average of 4.2 members.

The last census in 2002 gave the population as 11.6 million, mainly in households of more than six.