Egypt’s fast-growing population hit 100 million Tuesday, the official statistics agency announced, a pressing problem for an overburdened country with limited resources.
The staggering figure is an increase of 7 million since the publication of the latest census results in 2017.
Egypt’s population has tripled since 1960, with the annual growth rate peaking in 1987 at nearly 2.8%. Every day nearly 5,000 people are born in Egypt, the agency estimates.
The country is trying to cope with resurgent birth rates and a “youth bulge” that has reached a peak. Roughly 62% of the population are below age 29, according to the U.N. Population Fund.
“We’re looking at the largest cohort of young people in Egypt’s history. This number can translate into severe challenges or opportunities depending on how the country chooses to invest,” said Aleksandar Bodiroza, the Egypt representative for UNFPA.
The vast majority of the country’s population is crammed in urban areas around the Nile, some 7% of Egypt’s territory. The capital, Cairo, and its twin province of Giza, are home to a combined population of 19 million, according to Tuesday’s figures.
Cairo has become so congested and overpopulated that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi’s government has decided to build a vast new administrative capital in the desert, which critics say further drains resources in a country at risk of drought.
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“The population is one of the biggest challenges facing the state,” said Hala el-Said, minister of planning and economic development.