World population hits 7 billion!

As the world’s population hit an estimated 7 billion at the end of October 2011 , we reflect on Queensland’s own changing population which, according to the Office of Economic and Statistical Research, as  at Tuesday 1 November is 4,605,387 and increasing by one person every 7 minutes and 4 seconds! Depending on the statistical model,  by 2051 Queensland’s population is estimated to reach 4,580,6000 or 3,764,4000.  (4102.0 - Australian Social Trends, Jun 2010).


According to the historical ABS population details, the first population count for the state of Queensland at separation in 1856 was 23,520 people including 9,666 women and 13,854 men.   By Federation there were 224,430 women and 282,291 men, a total of 506,721.  At the time, 204,872  lived in urban Queensland and 293, 258 in rural Queensland.  By 2006, however, employment opportunities and a range of other social and economic reasons had completely changed these figures to 3,456,104 people living in cities and only 588,948 in rural Queensland.

Estimates for Queensland’s indigenous population in 1788 were 120, 000 and by Federation in 1901 there were 27,500 (L. R. Smith Aboriginal population of Australia 1980).

In Brisbane in 1840 the population was concentrated on the north side of the river  in the area now the Brisbane CBD with groups of dwellings scattered over Spring Hill, fortitude Valley, Petrie Terrace, South Brisbane and Woolangabba and a few isolated homes towards and North Eastern suburbs and towards Toowong in the northeast.  By 1861 the population of the new capital was 6,000.  The mass migration schemes of the 1880s saw Brisbane’s population reach 100,000 by 1891 with more than half of the increase in the already settled area.  (Lawson, 1973 pp 99-100).

In 1842 there were only 4 European women living on the Darling Downs.  Mrs Patrick Leslie (Canning Downs), Mrs Allan McInnes (Glengallen) Mrs Arthur Hodgson (Eton Vale) and Mrs Thomas Alford (Cambooya).  Courier Mail 16/2/1940 cited in TROVE 31/10/11.  On 2 March 1846 the government took a colony wide census and found a  total 960 Brisbane residents, 614 males and 346 females.  (Ross Johnson Brisbane the first 30 years p 106).


See the State Library of Queensland's One Search catalogue for access to hundreds of articles on Queensland population as well as historical records and resources including the Statistics of the colony of Queensland from 1869.

Karen Hind

Librarian, Queensland Memory

UPDATE 2018:  Estimates of Queensland's population growth were off the mark when this story was written. The population of Queensland reached 5 million in May 2018 (and Australia's population is predicted to reach 25 million for the first time today - 7 August 2018). Queensland is growing at about 1.7 percent, higher than the national average of 1.4 percent. The world population is now 7.6 billion according to latest estimates.

Simon Miller - Library Technician, State Library of Queensland


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