The sixth census had been organized after a gap of over 18 years in the country. The government of Pakistan and the UN had previously estimated the current population to be between 180 million and 200 million.

In a statement, the Prime Minister’s House announced the new census figures had been approved by the Council of Common Interests -- a constitutional body -- during a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in capital Islamabad.

According to the preliminary figures, the current population of the country stands at 207.77 million compared with 132.35 million in 1998. Out of the total, there are 106.45 million males and 101.31 million females.

Punjab province again emerged as the country’s most populous province with a population of 110.01 million with 2.13 percent annual growth rate followed by Sindh -- 47.89 million with 2.41 percent annual growth, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa -- 30.52 million with 2.89 percent annual growth, and Balochistan -- 12.34 million with 3.37 percent annual growth.

Urban population in Pakistan increased from 32.5 percent in 1998 to 36.4 percent in 2017.

The census exercise began on March 15 and was completed on May 25 in two phases.

Transsexual people were counted separately for the first time in the country’s history in the process. The provisional results put the number of transgenders in the country at 10,418.

The enumerators also counted millions of Afghan refugees who have been residing in the country for a long time, separately. Authorities estimate Afghan refugees living illegally in Pakistan to be over a million.

The census also determined specific population of religious minorities, particularly Christians and Hindus, whose current numbers are based on estimates.

The final results are expected to be released in November 2017.

Pakistan -- estimated to be the second-largest Muslim country in terms of population after Indonesia -- currently ranks as the sixth-most populated country in the world.

According to the 1951 census, there used to be just 33.7 million people in the country, which rose to 42.8 million in 1961, 65 million in 1972 and 85 million in 1981.

Anadolu Agency