2902.0 - Census Update (Newsletter), May 2005  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 03/05/2005   
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East Timor completes first Census

East Timor has successfully completed its first National Census since gaining independence on 20 May 2002.

The ABS has been helping East Timor over the past two years by providing quality assurance advice on the preparations for its 2004 Census. Responding to an approach from the United Nations Population Fund in 2002, the ABS has sent a number of people to East Timor to provide technical advice. Statistics New Zealand also lent a hand in the process.

Paul Lowe from the ABS Census Program has been to East Timor three times during the past two years to advise on setting up for the census, including strategies for enumeration and mapping. Paul’s third trip coincided with Census Day, 11 July 2004,

Issues arose throughout the planning process. One of the more significant dilemmas faced by Census organisers was how to ensure total coverage of the population in a country without an address system. To overcome this problem for the 2004 Census East Timor utilised state-of-the-art Geographical Positioning System technology, which uses a satellite to pinpoint the location of every household in the country.

Paul noted the high levels of enthusiasm throughout East Timor for the 2004 Census. “Everyone, from the President and the Prime Minister to people working in the fields, regarded it as a big national event,” said Paul.

“Preliminary population figures are already available and show a much larger than predicted count of 924,642 people in East Timor, compared with a 2001 estimate of 787,000. The population growth can be accounted for by people returning to East Timor following the end of the violence, as well as a large increase in fertility rates also associated with a return to peace.” The surge in the population of East Timor represents an increase of 17.5% on the 2001 estimate, with the population in some areas doubling. East Timor's population is poised to reach one million later this year.