Soviet National Census
Coat of arms of the Soviet Union.svg
Soviet State Emblem
General Information
Date Taken January 12, 1989
Total Population 286,730,819
Percent Change increase 9.3%
Most Populous SSR Russia
Least Populous SSR Estonia
1989 Cccp census.jpg

The 1989 Soviet census, conducted between January 12-19 of that year, was the last one conducted in the former USSR. It resulted in a total population of 286,730,819 inhabitants.[1] Not only in that year, but during its entire nearly seven-decade existence, the country ranked as the third most populous in the world, above the United States (with 248,709,873 inhabitants according to the 1 April 1990 census), although it was well behind China and India.

Some details[]

In 1989, about half of the Soviet Union's total population lived in the RSFSR, and approximately one sixth (some 18%) of them in Ukraine. Almost two thirds (some 65.7%) of the population was urban, leaving the rural population with some 34.3%.[2] In this way, its gradual increase continued, as shown by the series represented by 47.9%, 56.3% and 62.3% of 1959, 1970 and 1979 respectively.[3]

The last two national censuses (held in 1979 and 1989) showed that the country had been experiencing an average annual increase of about 2.5 million people, although it was a slight decrease from a figure of around 3 million per year in the previous intercensal period, 1959-1970. This post-war increase had contributed to the USSR's partial demographic recovery from the significant population losses of some 27 million deaths that the USSR had suffered during the Great Patriotic War (the Eastern Front of World War II), and before it, a few million more during Stalin's Great Purge of 1936-1938. The previous postwar censuses, conducted in 1959, 1970 and 1979, had enumerated 208,826,650, 241,720,134 and 262,436,227 inhabitants respectively.[3]

In 1990, the Soviet Union was more populated than both the United States and Canada together, having some 40 million more inhabitants than the USA alone. However, after the dissolution of the country in late 1991, the combined population of the 15 former Soviet republics stagnated at around 290 million inhabitants for the period 1995-2000.

This significant slowdown may in part be due to the remarkable socio-economic changes that followed the disintegration of the USSR, that have tended to reduce even more the already decreasing birth rates (which were already showing some signs of decline since the Soviet era, in particular among the people living in the European part of the Soviet Union).

SSR Rankings[]

Soviet Republic
Population as of
1979 Census
Population as of
1989 Census[4]
1  Russian SFSR 137,551,000 147,400,537 increase 9,849,537 increase 7.2%
2  Ukrainian SSR 49,755,000 51,706,742 increase 1,951,742 increase 3.9%
3  Uzbek SSR 15,391,000 19,905,158 increase 4,514,158 increase 29.3%
4  Kazakh SSR 14,684,000 16,536,511 increase 1,852,511 increase 12.6%
5  Byelorussian SSR 9,560,000 10,199,709 increase 639,709 increase 6.7%
6  Azerbaijan SSR 6,028,000 7,037,867 increase 1,009,867 increase 16.8%
7  Georgian SSR 5,015,000 5,443,359 increase 428,359 increase 8.5%
8  Tajik SSR 3,801,000 5,108,576 increase 1,307,576 increase 34.4%
9  Moldavian SSR 3,947,000 4,337,592 increase 390,592 increase 9.9%
10  Kirghiz SSR 3,529,000 4,290,442 increase 761,442 increase 21.6%
11  Lithuanian SSR 3,398,000 3,689,779 increase 291,779 increase 8.6%
12  Turkmen SSR 2,759,000 3,533,925 increase 774,925 increase 28.1%
13  Armenian SSR 3,031,000 3,287,677 increase 256,677 increase 8.5%
14  Latvian SSR 2,521,000 2,680,029 increase 159,029 increase 6.3%
15  Estonian SSR 1,466,000 1,572,916 increase 106,916 increase 7.3%
   Soviet Union 262,436,000 286,730,819 24,294,819 9.3%

See also[]

  • Demographics of the Soviet Union
  • Republics of the Soviet Union
  • Soviet Census (1937)
  • First All-Union Census of the Soviet Union
  • Soviet Union


  1. ^ This is the total "de facto" population (nalichnoye naseleniye – наличное население); the "permanent" population (postoyannoye naseleniye – постоянное население) was about 1 million persons fewer. Over time, the State Statistics Committee changed its method of reporting population totals in censuses. In the 1959 and 1970 censuses, it used the permanent population; in 1979 and 1989 it used the de facto or present population. See Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D. Silver, "'Permanent' and 'Present' Populations in Soviet Statistics," Soviet Studies, Vol. 37, pp. 386-402, July 1985.
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica Book of the Year 1991, Soviet Union, page 720.
  3. ^ a b United Nations: Demographic Yearbook, Historical supplement - Population by sex, residence, and intercensal rates of increase for total population, each census: 1948-1997, on the UN Statistics Division website (
  4. ^ Almanaque Mundial 1996, Editorial América/Televisa, Mexico, 1995, pages 548-552 (Demografía/Biometría table).

Further reading[]

  • Barbara A. Anderson and Brian D. Silver, "Growth and diversity of the population of the Soviet Union", The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science , Vol. 510, No. 1, 155-177, 1990.
  • Ralph S. Clem, Ed., Research Guide to Russian and Soviet Censuses, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986.
  • John C. Dewdney, "Population change in the Soviet Union, 1979-1989," Geography, Vol. 75, Pt. 3, No. 328, July 1990, 273-277.

External links[]


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