Population: size and growth

  • Flemish region counts 6.6 million inhabitants

    On 1 January 2020, the Flemish Region counted a rounded number of 6.63 million inhabitants. This is 40,000 more than at the beginning of 2019, which corresponds to a growth of 0.6% of the legal population. Between 2000 and 2020, the population grew by 12%.

    The Brussels-Capital Region counted 1.22 million inhabitants at the beginning of 2020. Based on the 'Brussels Standard' of the Flemish government, which includes one third of the inhabitants of the Brussels-Capital Region as a potential target group of the Flemish policy, the Flemish Community thus counted 7 million members.

  • The so-called Flemish ‘diamond’ region has the most inhabitants per km²

    The average population density in the Flemish Region was 487 inhabitants per km² in 2020. In 2000, this was 439 inhabitants per km².

    The population density is highest in and around the 'Flemish diamond', which is the central area between Ghent, Antwerp, Leuven and Brussels. Population density is also high in a number of coastal municipalities (Ostend, Bredene, Blankenberge and Bruges), in the south of West Flanders (Kortrijk and Roeselare) and in some central municipalities of the province of Limburg (Hasselt and Genk).

  • Population growth in 9 in 10 Flemish municipalities

    Most Flemish municipalities registered a population growth between 2015 and 2020. Only 1 in 10 municipalities experienced shrinkage (28 out of 300 municipalities). On the other hand, 1 in 10 municipalities experienced a growth of 5% or more.

    A number of municipalities around Brussels stand out because of a relatively strong population growth (5% or more), with Drogenbos, Machelen and Vilvoorde as the top municipalities. A little further north, Willebroek, Boom and Niel appear as a growth cluster. In West Flanders, Veurne and Roeselare are strong growers. In East Flanders growth is stronger in De Pinte, Wetteren, Melle, Stekene, Sint-Niklaas and Denderleeuw. For the province of Antwerp, Hemiksem, Wijnegem, Lier, Turnhout, Oud-Turnhout and Baarle-Hertog can be mentioned.

    Population growth between 2015 and 2020 is more limited in large parts of West Flanders, the Flemish Ardennes, in Dendermonde and surrounding municipalities on its north side, the middle of the province of Antwerp, the eastern part of Flemish Brabant, as well as in municipalities in the east and south of the province of Limburg.

  • Turnhout, Sint-Niklaas and Roeselare strong growers among the central cities

    Between 2015 and 2020, the population growth in most of the Flemish central cities was higher than the Flemish average (+2.9%). The strongest growth occurred in Turnhout, Sint-Niklaas and Roeselare (5% or more). In Bruges, Genk, Kortrijk and Ostend, the growth percentage is below the Flemish average.

  • Growth of Flemish population above European average

    The percentual growth of the usually resident population in the Flemish Region between 2015 and 2020 ranks between those of the other Belgian regions. In the Flemish Region, growth amounted to 2.2%.

    In the Flemish Region, the growth of the usually resident population was higher than that of the European Union (EU28). Top performers in the EU28 were Luxembourg and Malta. Belgium occupied the 11th place. There are also countries with declining populations, especially in the Eastern European Member States. Latvia, Croatia and Lithuania registered more than 3% shrinkage in recent years.


Statistics Flanders: State of the population 
Statbel: Population 
Eurostat: Database 


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. 

Publication date

29 October 2020

Next update

July 2021

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