Ukraine’s population has shrunk by almost a quarter since 2001, new figures showed Thursday, fuelled by migration but also because residents in the separatist east and Moscow-annexed Crimea could not be counted.

“There are 37.3 million people living in Ukraine,” Dmytro Dubilet, the minister of the Cabinet of Ministers, said at a press conference, representing a drop of 11.2 million or 23 per cent since 2001.

“That’s the number of people who were physically present in Ukraine as of December 1, 2019,” he added.

Ukraine’s last official census in 2001 counted some 48.5 million inhabitants.

The latest figures do not include areas in the east that are under control of Moscow-backed separatists, nor the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, nor Ukrainians living abroad, Dubilet said.

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There are currently some 20 million women but only 17 million men living in Ukraine, according to the new count, put together with help from mobile phone operators and the state pension fund.

A study by the Centre for Economic Strategy research centre found that 6.3 million Ukrainians left the country between 2002 and 2017, based on information from border officials.

Those leaving were most likely to be headed for neighbouring Poland and Russia.

According to a 2015 International Organization for Migration study, 88 per cent of Ukrainian migrants left in search of work.

Before its 2014 annexation, Crimea had two million inhabitants while the overall population of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions was close to six million people before the separatist conflict broke out.



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