by Saleem Samad

The population of the world's poorest nation, Bangladesh, has been counted by a United Nations agency at 150.5 million, just as the world's population reached 7 billion.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) released its estimate of the country's population on Wednesday. In March, a census conducted by the Bangladesh government placed the number at 142,319,000.

The UNFPA in its annual flagship publication, State of World Population 2011, also indicated the number of males and females at 76.2 million and 74.3 million respectively, and pegged the country's annual population growth rate at 1.3 percent.

Planning minister A.K. Khandker said on Wednesday he was "happy" to see the projection, which was "close" to the preliminary census count released in July by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics.

The minister feared the country's population growth would lead to invasion of agricultural land and forests for construction of new townships if the explosion in human population was not checked immediately.

"Energy crisis, unemployment problem, economic problem, health and education problem, housing problem - everything will become more acute. There will be human abodes everywhere with no space to move freely," he said.

In 2010, the UN population agency estimated the country's population at 164.4 million. The UNFPA had to revise that figure after Bangladesh rejected the head count.

According to the UN, the world's population was 1 billion in 1804, 2 billion in 1927, 3 billion in 1959, 4 billion in 1974, 5 billion in 1987, 6 billion in 1999 and 7 billion in 2011.

Experts, however, say the world at 7 billion will be marked by achievements, setbacks and paradoxes as in some of the poorest countries a growing population stands in the way of development, while some of the richest countries are worried about low birth rates and ageing populations.



"Bangladesh Population Pegged at 150.5 Million "