Preliminary figures from Cuba's first census in 10 years indicate a decline in the island's population and an increase in the number of homes, official media said Friday.

Cuba currently has 11.16 million inhabitants compared with the 11.23 million recorded in the 2002 census and the 11.24 million estimated last year by the National Statistics Office.

The latest count "confirms the balance between the sexes in the island's population," according to a statement by national census director Juan Carlos Fraga, as cited in the Communist Party daily Granma.

A lower birth rate is a decisive factor in the shrinking population, according to Fraga, who recalled that Cuban women have been having fewer than two children each on average for more than three decades.

"The nation currently has a high demographic development and is growing little," he said.

Neither Granma nor Fraga mentioned emigration as a factor contributing to Cuba's population decline.

The preliminary census data also confirm that Cuba's population is aging, so that 18.3 percent of inhabitants are now 60 and older.

The biggest concentration is between the ages of 16 and 59 with 63.3 percent of the total, while the group 15 and under represents 18.4 percent.

The census preview also shows an increase of almost 400,000 homes compared with the year 2002.

Specifically, this year almost 4 million housing units have been counted with an average of 2.84 people living in each, a lower housing density than in 2002.

"Home construction grew faster than the population," Fraga said.

Definitive census data will be published next June. 

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