Pakistan's population has surged by more than half to 207mn, according to provisional results of the country's first census in almost two decades released by the statistics board on Friday.The provisional results published on the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics website showed an average annual growth of 2.4% since 1998, when the total population was put at 132.35mn.
Pakistan had not held a census for nearly two decades due to years of bickering by politicians concerned it could redraw the political map, raising fears over power bases and federal funding.
The updated figure -- an increase of around 57% since 1998 -- is higher than the estimate of 200mn that had been in wide use, and sees fast-growing Pakistan surpass Brazil as the world's fifth most populous country, according to statistics listed by the US Census Bureau.
Central Punjab province remained far and away the most populated, home to more than 110mn people or more than half the country -- but it also showed the slowest average annual growth rate, at 2.13%.
The areas with the fastest growth rates were restive southern Balochistan province, with a population of more than 12mn and an average growth rate since 1998 of 3.37%, and the Islamabad Capital Territory, whose population passed two million with an average growth rate of 4.91%.
The results from the count, which began in March, were also set to help give a clearer picture about religious minority numbers in the Muslim-majority country.
The weeks-long process, a challenge in a country known for corruption and dysfunction, deployed a team of more than 300,000 people and involved 55mn forms.
It will be the basis for revising political boundaries, parliamentary seat allocations and finances ahead of national elections, due to be held by the end of 2018.
Powerful Punjab province, for example, could see its political grip weaken as a result of its population not rising at a similar rate to other provinces.