3222.7 - Population Projections, Northern Territory, 1999 to 2021  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 25/07/2001   
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Darwin's population could hit 185,000 in next 20 years

The population of Darwin Statistical Division (which includes Darwin City, Palmerston-East Arm and Litchfield) is projected to increase from 103,500 in 1999 to between 126,500 and 184,500 by 2021, according to a series of projections just released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

The projections use a combination of assumptions about future levels of births, deaths and overseas and interstate migration to illustrate the possible size, structure and distribution of the Northern Territory's population over the next 20 years.

Darwin Statistical Division is projected to experience stronger growth than the rest of the Northern Territory, resulting in the further concentration of the Northern Territory's population within the cities of Darwin and Palmerston and Litchfield Shire. By 2021, 56-60% of Territorians will be living in these areas compared to 54% in 1999.

The population of Palmerston-East Arm is projected to double from 19,600 in 1999 to between 36,600 and 42,000 in 2021 as it continues to absorb much of the population increase in Darwin Statistical Division, primarily due to the limited land capacity in Darwin City. As Palmerston nears capacity, it is expected that a new satellite city, called Weddell, will emerge in Litchfield between 2009 and 2019. Weddell could reach a population of between 2,900 and 27,700 by 2021. The population of Litchfield as a whole is projected to at least double, increasing from 15,400 in 1999 to between 29,400 and 59,500 in 2021.

Katherine and Tennant Creek are both projected to experience slow growth. Katherine could grow from 9,900 in 1999 to between 11,400 and 13,800 in 2021, while Tennant Creek could increase from 3,900 to between 4,100 and 5,200 over the same period. The population of Nhulunbuy is projected to decline slowly from 3,600 in 1999 to between 2,900 and 3,500 in 2021. In contrast, the population of Alice Springs is projected to grow steadily in some projections, increasing from 25,500 in 1999 to between 27,600 and 30,900 in 2021, but declines slightly in other projections to 25,200 by 2021.

The median age of Territorians (the age at which half the population is younger and half older) is projected to increase but it is also projected that the Northern Territory's population will age at a slower rate than Australia's population as a whole. The median age of Territorians is projected to increase from 29 years in 1999 to 32-33 years in 2021. The proportion of the population aged 14 years and under could fall from 26% in 1999 to 22-23% by 2021. In contrast, the proportion of the population aged 65 years and over is projected to double from 3% in 1999 to 6-7% by 2021.

Please note that a pyramid graph showing the age structure of NT in 1999 and 2021 is available on request.

Further information, including population projections for all Statistical Local Areas in the Northern Territory, can be found in Population Projections, Northern Territory, 1999 to 2021 (cat. no. 3222.7) available at ABS Bookshops. If you would like to purchase a copy please contact the ABS bookshop in your capital city.