European Neighbourhood Policy - South - population statistics

Data extracted in December 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned article update: February 2019.

This article is part of an online publication and presents information relating to a range of demographic statistics for 9 of the 10 countries that form the European Neighbourhood Policy-South (ENP-South) region, namely, Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine [1] and Tunisia; no recent data are available for Syria. Aside from basic data on population levels, the article also provides information for these countries and the European Union (EU) on the crude birth rate, fertility rate, infant mortality rate and life expectancy.

Table 1: Population indicators, 2016
Source: Eurostat (demo_pjan) and (demo_r_d3dens)
Table 2: Population by age class as of 1 January, 2006 and 2016
(% of total population)
Source: Eurostat (demo_pjangroup)
Table 3: Crude birth and death rates, 2006, 2011 and 2016
(per 1 000 inhabitants)
Source: Eurostat (demo_gind)
Table 4: Life expectancy at birth, 2006-2016
Source: Eurostat (demo_mlexpec)
Figure 1: Infant mortality rate, 2006, 2011 and 2016
(per 1 000 live births)
Source: Eurostat (demo_minfind)

Main statistical findings

Number of inhabitants and population density

The total population of the nine ENP-South countries for which recent data are available (therefore excluding Syria and based on data spanning 2012 to 2016) was about 209 million inhabitants, which was equivalent to around 41 % of the total population of the EU-28, some 510 million persons at the start of 2016 (see Table 1).

Egypt was, by far, the most populous of the ENP-South countries with 90.1 million inhabitants in 2016, more than the number in Germany, the largest EU Member State with 82.2 million inhabitants. The number of inhabitants in Egypt was more than twice the number found in any of the other ENP-South countries, with the next highest levels being recorded in Algeria (40.4 million inhabitants; 2015 data) and Morocco (34.5 million inhabitants).

These three ENP-South countries — Egypt, Algeria (2015 data) and Morocco — were characterised as having lower levels of population density than in the EU-28 (117 inhabitants per km²) as did Jordan and Tunisia. It should be noted that these are countries with large areas of sparsely populated desert and their population density is much higher in urban areas. By contrast, some of the most densely populated ENP-South countries were also some of the smallest — both in relation to their land area and in relation to their number of inhabitants. For example, the 4.7 million inhabitants of Palestine lived, on average, with a population density that was 6.8 times as high as in the EU-28 and approximately double the population density in the Netherlands, the EU’s second most densely populated Member State after Malta. Israel and Lebanon (2012 data) were also relatively densely populated, with levels between those in Belgium and the Netherlands and around three times as high as the EU-28 average.

Population structure

The ENP-South countries are characterised as having a high proportion of young people in their population

All eight of the ENP-South countries (for which data are available) have a relatively young population structure (see Table 2), especially when compared with the EU-28, where 15.6 % of the population was under 15 years of age in 2016. By contrast, in the ENP-South countries this share ranged upwards from the 21.5 % share recorded in Lebanon (2012 data), rising to account for more than a quarter of the population in Morocco, Israel, Algeria (2015 data) and Egypt, and more than a third in Jordan, peaking at 39.3 % in Palestine. These differences may be largely explained by far higher birth and fertility rates in the ENP-South countries. However, in keeping with the general development observed in the EU-28, the share of under 15s in the total population fell in most of the ENP South countries between the years shown in Table 2, the exceptions being Algeria where there was a slight increase between 2006 and 2015 and Israel where the share was unchanged.

The share of older people (defined here as those aged 65 and above) in the total population of the EU-28 was 19.2 % in 2016, at least 8 percentage points higher than in any of the ENP-South countries. The high proportion of older people living in the EU-28 reflects, in part, greater longevity among the EU population and lower birth rates over many decades.

In the majority of ENP-South countries, older people accounted for much less than 10 % of the total population, with only Israel and Lebanon (2012 data) recording double-digit shares. The lowest shares of older people were recorded in Palestine (2.9 %) and Jordan (3.7 %). Between 2006 and 2016 the share of older people in the total population increased by 2.4 percentage points in the EU-28. In most of the ENP-South countries for which data are available, the share of older persons also increased, but more moderately; Palestine was an exception as the share fell by 0.2 percentage points between 2008 and 2016.

Age dependency ratios compare the size of the generally economically inactive age groups — young persons (under 15 years old) and older persons (those aged 65 and above) — with the working-age population (those aged 15-64 years). In 2016, total dependency ratios across the ENP-South countries ranged from 48.3 % in Tunisia to 73.0 % in Palestine. As well as Tunisia, total dependency ratios were below the EU-28 average (53.2 %) in Lebanon (2012 data) and Morocco. Whereas the EU-28’s total dependency ratio increased by 4.3 percentage points between 2006 and 2016 — as a result of a rise in the old-age dependency rate as more of the baby-boom generation reached retirement — a small majority of the ENP-South countries for which data are available observed a fall in this ratio, Israel, Algeria and Tunisia being the exceptions.

Crude birth and death rates

High birth rates drive population growth in the ENP-South countries

One of the key drivers of population change is the birth rate. With the exception of Morocco, the remaining ENP-South countries had crude birth rates in 2016 that were at least twice as high as in the EU-28 (10.0 live births per 1 000 inhabitants) — see Table 3. The highest birth rates among ENP-South countries were recorded in Palestine (30.9 births per 1 000 inhabitants) and Egypt (30.4 births per 1 000 inhabitants; 2011 data). The crude birth rate in the EU-28 was lower in 2016 than it had been in 2006, as it was in Jordan and Morocco and most substantially in Palestine. The largest increases in the crude birth rate between these years were recorded in Tunisia and Algeria (both 2006-2015).

The natural rate of population change is linked to the number of births and the number of deaths in a country. With relatively low death rates (reflecting, in part, the young age structures of their populations), the ENP-South countries had very high crude rates of natural population increase in 2016, ranging from 12.2 per 1 000 inhabitants in Morocco to 27.4 per 1 000 inhabitants in Palestine. The rate in the EU-28 was not simply considerably lower, but was in fact 0.0, as the crude birth and death rates were equal; as birth and death rates are balanced, changes in the EU-28’s overall population level in 2016 were purely a reflection of migration patterns. The EU-28 (2006-2016), Algeria and Tunisia recorded higher crude death rates in 2015 than in 2006, while the other ENP-South countries for which data are available reported a fall in this rate.

Life expectancy

Rising life expectancy across the ENP-South countries

Improved social and economic conditions, better healthcare and increased awareness of health issues all play a part in raising life expectancy and lowering infant mortality rates. Life expectancy at birth in the EU-28 and the ENP-South countries generally increased over the period shown in Table 4, although there were some exceptions, notably a fall in life expectancy: for both men and women in Palestine between 2006 and 2007; for women in Algeria between 2007 and 2009; for women in Jordan between 2013 and 2014.

Life expectancy at birth for men in the EU-28 was 77.9 years in 2015, while the corresponding figure for women was 5.4 years higher. Life expectancy for men and women in the EU-28 in 2015 was lower than in 2014, which was the only time during the time series shown in Table 4 that these figures fell. Israel was the only ENP-South country to record higher life expectancy than in the EU-28 and this was true for both men and women. At the other end of the range, the lowest levels of life expectancy in 2016 among the ENP-South countries for which data are available were recorded in Egypt: 70.5 years for men and 73.3 years for women.

As in the EU-28, women in each of the ENP-South countries can expect to live longer than men. While the gender gap in the EU-28 was 5.4 years (2015 data), the difference in life expectancy between men and women in the ENP-South countries was smaller, and in 2016 was less than 2.0 years in Jordan and Algeria (2015 data).

Infant mortality

Infant mortality rates have fallen at a rapid pace in most of the ENP-South countries in recent years (see Figure 1) an exception being Jordan (where they were stable) between 2011 and 2016. Nevertheless, they generally remained much higher than in the EU-28 (3.6 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2015), with the notable exception of Israel where the infant mortality rate was 3.1 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2016. The rate for 2009 shown in Figure 1 for Lebanon was also clearly lower than in the remaining ENP-South countries for which data are available. Elsewhere, recent infant mortality rates ranged from 15.3 deaths per 1 000 live births in Tunisia (2015 data) to 22.3 deaths per 1 000 live births in Algeria (2015 data), with Morocco historically reporting an even higher infant mortality rate (28.8; 2011 data) and Egypt a lower one (14.7 deaths per 1 000 live births; 2011 data).

Data sources and availability

The data for ENP-South countries are supplied by and under the responsibility of the national statistical authorities of each country on a voluntary basis. The data that are presented in this article result from an annual data collection cycle that has been established by Eurostat. No recent data are available from Syria. These statistics are available free-of-charge on Eurostat’s website, together with a range of different indicators covering most socio-economic areas.

Israel and Jordan have provided end of year population data rather than data for the beginning of the year: in Table 1, data for the end of 2015 have been shown as an approximation for data at the beginning of 2016; in Table 2, data for the end of 2005 and 2015 have been shown as approximations for data at the beginning of 2006 and 2016.

Tables in this article use the following notation:

Value in italics     data value is forecasted, provisional or estimated and is therefore likely to change;
: not available, confidential or unreliable value;
not applicable.


Statistics on population change and population structure are increasingly used to support policymaking and provide an opportunity to monitor demographic behaviour within an economic, social and cultural context.

On 18 November 2015, the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and the European Commission jointly presented a review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (SWD(2015) 500 final) which underlined a new approach for the EU in relation to its eastern and southern neighbours, based on stabilising the region in political, economic, and security-related terms.

In cooperation with its ENP partners, Eurostat has the responsibility ‘to promote and implement the use of European and internationally recognised standards and methodology for the production of statistics, necessary for developing and monitoring policy achievements in all policy areas’. Eurostat undertakes the task of coordinating EU efforts to increase the statistical capacity of the ENP countries. Additional information on the policy context of the ENP is provided here.

See also

Further Eurostat information



Population and social conditions (med_ps)
General Indicators (med_ps111)
Population on 1 January by sex and by age group (med_ps112)
Average population (mid-year) (med_ps115)
Demographic indicators (med_ps12)
Population change - Demographic balance and crude rates at national level (demo_gind)
Population (demo_pop)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Source data for tables and figures (MS Excel)

External links


  1. This designation shall not be construed as recognition of a State of Palestine and is without prejudice to the individual positions of the Member States on this issue.