After delaying its census by two years because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brazil got a surprise when officials published its population count Wednesday: 203.1 million people, more than 10 million fewer than forecast.
Upending demographic projections, the 2022 census found the sprawling South American country had its lowest population growth since it carried out its first census in 1872, according to the figures released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE).
From the previous census, carried out in 2010, to this one, annual population growth came in at 0.52 percent, IBGE said. That was less than half the level registered in 2010.
Brazil runs a door-to-door demographic check-up once a decade, sending census-takers into the favelas, the Amazon rainforest and every inhabited place in between. But it had to postpone the 2020 edition when Covid-19 hit.
Absent an actual head-count, IBGE had projected the nation's population at 213.3 million people in 2021.
Still, Brazil remains the most populous country in Latin America, and seventh in the world, according to United Nations data.
São Paulo, Latin America's biggest city, registered a population of 11.5 million people, up 1.8 percent, followed by Rio de Janeiro (6.2 million, down 1.7 percent) and Brasilia (2.8 million, up 9.6 percent).