SEOUL-North Korea is getting bigger, older and less healthy, according to data from the country"s latest census, and its fabled million-man army might have fewer than 700,000 people.
The authoritarian government in December released results of the census conducted in 2008, saying its population had climbed to 24 million people from 21.2 million in the previous census in 1993.
More details have been published by the United Nations Population Fund, which helped North Korea conduct the census and sent five teams of observers to monitor it.更多信息请访问：http://www.24en.com/
Even so, it"s difficult for outsiders, with so little access to the country, to be certain of the precision of North Korea"s data. For decades, the government has cut off the dissemination of most information about the country. The new census numbers provide a rare glimpse of official statistics.
The census reported that North Korea"s population grew at an annual average rate of 0.85% for the 15-year period, a time that included a devastating multiyear famine that analysts and foreign aid agencies estimate killed between one million and two million people.
A separate U.N. report published last year found that North Korea"s population has grown more slowly since 2005, at an annual rate of 0.4%. The global population has grown 1.2% annually since 2005, the U.N. report said.
North Korea"s census said the country"s population has proportionately fewer children and more middle-aged people than it did in 1993.
It also reported that people are less healthy.
Babies are more likely to die: The infant mortality rate climbed to 19.3 per 1,000 children in 2008 from 14.1 in 1993, though North Korea"s rate is still well below the world average, which a 2009 report by the U.N. agency put at 46 per 1,000 children.
North Koreans are living shorter lives-average life expectancy has fallen to 69.3 years from 72.7 in 1993.
As in many places, women live longer than men, with a gap of about seven years, compared with the world average of 4.4 years.
North Korea has 5.9 million households, with an average of 3.9 people in each, according to the census.
The typical home is 50 to 75 square meters in size (540 to 800 square feet). About 85% of homes have access to running water and about 55% have a flush toilet.
The census provided only a glimpse of the country"s economic structure, but even that produced some surprises. The occupation that provides the most employment-farming-has more women, 1.9 million, than men, 1.5 million.
The second-biggest occupation, working for the government or the military, employs 699,000 people. The census doesn"t break that group down further, but the figure suggests North Korea"s military isn"t as large as had been thought.
The military is often portrayed by outside military analysts and media as a force of one million people, mostly conscripts who are required to serve 10 years.
The third-largest employment sector by number of workers is education, followed by machinery manufacturing, textiles and coal mining. About 40,000 people work in computer, electronic or optical-product manufacturing.
North Korea hasn"t shared meaningful information about its economy or its financial system with the outside world since the early 1960s.
Outside estimates of its economic performance, most prominently an annual estimate by the South Korean central bank, the Bank of Korea, are filled with assumptions that even their authors say render them almost meaningless.
Word of the availability of the North Korea census data was disseminated last week on North Korea Economy Watch, a Web site run by Curtis Melvin, a Virginia-based graduate student in economics and a specialist in North Korea.