The European Union’s population has crossed the half-billion mark and the growth has come mostly from immigration, the Eurostat statistics agency said Tuesday.
Eurostat said 900,000 came from immigration over 2009, while 500,000 came from birth-minus-deaths population growth.
In 2008, Eurostat forecast that deaths would outpace births by 2015 in the EU, leaving immigration as the only source of population growth. The EU birth rate fell to 10.7 per 1,000 inhabitants last year, from 10.9 per 1,000 in 2008, while the death rate remained unchanged at 9.7 percent.
Eurostat said the 2009 birth rates were highest in Ireland, Britain and France and lowest in Germany and Austria.
The death rates in Bulgaria, Latvia and Hungary outpaced birth rates, triggering a decline in natural population growth.
The 2009 report also found that:
* The largest population rises were in Luxembourg (17.2 per 1,000 inhabitants), Sweden (9.1), Slovenia (7.2), Belgium (7.1) and the United Kingdom (6.7).
* The largest population drops were recorded in Lithuania (6.2 per 1,000 inhabitants), Latvia (-5.7), Bulgaria (-5.6) and Germany (-2.5).
* There were 5.4 million births in the EU. The lowest birth rates were found in Germany (7.9 per 1,000 inhabitants), Austria (9.1), Portugal (9.4), Italy (9.5), Latvia and Hungary (9.6). The highest death rates were recorded in Bulgaria (14.2 per 1,000 inhabitants), Latvia (13.3), Hungary (13.0) and Lithuania (12.6).