Population: size and growth
Nearly 6.6 million inhabitants in Flanders
On 1 January 2019, the Flemish Region had 6,589,069 legal residents. That is 36,102 more than at the beginning of 2018, which corresponds to a growth of 0.6%. This growth follows the growth rate of the last years. Between 2000 and 2019, the population grew by 11% and between 2010 and 2019 by 5%.
The so-called Flemish ‘diamond’ region has the most inhabitants per km²
The average population density in the Flemish Region was 484 inhabitants per km² in 2019, up from 436 inhabitants per km² in 2000.
The population density is especially high in and around the 'Flemish diamond', which is the central area between Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Brussels. Population density is also high in the seaside towns, on the axis between Kortrijk and Ghent and in some central municipalities of the province of Limburg.
Population growth in almost all Flemish municipalities
Most Flemish municipalities registered a population growth between 2010 and 2019. In 4 out of 10 municipalities, the growth exceeds 5%. Population growth is strong in a wide area of municipalities in the north of Brussels, with Machelen, Vilvoorde and Zaventem as top performers. This zone extends westwards beyond the Dender region and eastwards to Tienen. A relatively strong population growth (≥5%) can also be observed along the axis between Harelbeke and Ghent and further towards Antwerp, in the Noorderkempen region, in the region between Geel/Mol and Hasselt and in a number of other municipalities (e.g. Bredene, Pelt, Borgloon).
Between 2010 and 2019 there was a decline in population in 15 of the 300 municipalities, mostly located in the province of West Flanders.
Strong growth in Roeselare, Turnhout and Antwerp
In most of the Flemish central cities the population growth between 2010 and 2019 was higher than the Flemish average (+5.4%). The strongest growth occurred in Roeselare, Turnhout, Antwerp, Sint-Niklaas and Aalst. In Bruges, Genk, Kortrijk and Ostend, the growth percentage is below the Flemish average.
Growth of Flemish population slightly above European average
The growth percentage of the usually resident population in the Flemish Region between 2011 and 2018 ranks between those of the other Belgian regions. In the Flemish Region, growth amounted to 3.7%, in the Brussels-Capital Region to 6.0% and in the Walloon Region to 2.7%.
In the Flemish Region, the growth of the (usually resident) population between 2011 and 2018 was higher than that of the European Union (EU28). Top performers in the EU28 were Luxembourg, Malta and Sweden. Belgium occupied the 8th place: Some member states showed a decline, especially the group of new Member States, with a substantial declining population in Latvia and Lithuania.
Population density: Average number of inhabitants per km².
Central cities: As part of its urban policy, the Government of Flanders designated 13 'central cities'. These are Aalst, Antwerp, Bruges, Genk, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, Leuven, Mechelen, Ostend, Roeselare, Sint-Niklaas and Turnhout.
Usually resident population: The population with their usual residence in the country as published by the European statistical office Eurostat. Persons registered in the waiting register for asylum seekers are partly included (depending on the length of stay according to the European definition).
Legally resident population: The population registered in the National Register as published by the Belgian Statistical Office Statbel. These are residents with a right of permanent residence or establishment in Belgium or with a right of temporary residence (>3 months) in the country. Persons registered in the waiting register for asylum seekers are not included.