The Population of Paris –
50 AD to 2012

Follow the ups and downs of the
population of the City of Light

Population of Paris. In 2012 the population density of Paris is over 52,000 people per square mile, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world (and the most densely populated major city outside of Asia). That's why it seems so crowded!

But did you know that Paris used to be even more crowded?

The population peaked in about 1920 when it reached nearly three million people. That's central Paris, within the Périphérique (the ring road), which includes the 20 arrondissements.

In 2012 Paris central has 2.2 million people, while the population of Paris metropolitan area is over 12,000,000!

History of the population of Paris

Paris started out as a Celtic settlement at a convenient river crossing site. Under the Celts and Gauls, the population of Paris numbered a relatively few thousands.

Under the Romans, Paris expanded into a more important commercial city that could control both river traffic and river crossings. At its peak, Roman Lutetia grew to about 80,000 people.

After Roman rule declined, and the period of invasions that followed in the third and fourth centuries, the population dropped to about 30,000, and continued to drop up to the period of the Viking invasions, reaching a low point of about 20,000 around the turn of the first millennium.

Population in the Middle Ages

Paris really came into its own in the Middle Ages, and was the biggest city in Europe. In fact, it was the largest city in the world by about 1550. (It would have been even larger were it not for the Black Plague and the Hundred Years' War, which reduced the population considerably.)

Population of Paris The Population of Paris Through the Centuries

More population ups and downs occurred in ensuing centuries because of continuing wars, but by the time of Henry IV (c. 1630) the population of Paris had made a spectacular recovery to number well over 400,000 people.

From then the population continued to grow steadily, taking a couple of big jumps when Paris was expanded in 1860 and then during the amazing growth that occurred under Napoleon III and the revitalization of the city by Baron Haussmann.

Population In The Modern Era

Paris reached its peak population of 2.9 million in 1920, when the population density would have been a staggering 69,000 people per square mile.

Following that the population declined slowly but steadily until it reached a modern low point of just over 2.1 million in 1990.

Since that time the population has slowly inched up to its present size of something over 2.2 million.

However, there have been major population shifts among the Paris arrondissements. All of the low-numbered arrondissements (1 to 11) have declined in population in the modern era, while the high-numbered arrondissements have grown in population. The difference is often dramatic

Area 1872 2009
1st Arrondissement 74,286 17,767
2nd Arrondissement 73,578 21,955
Marais: 3 & 4 Arrondissements 184,690 62,496
9th Arrondissement 103,767 59,840
13th Arrondissement 69,431 184,034
15 Arrondissement 75,449 238,914
16th Arrondissement 43,332 171,880
19th Arrondissement 93,174 186,507
20th Arrondissement 92,772 196,678

Today the highest and lowest populations are the 1st at 17,767 versus the 15th at 238,914. The population density runs from 25,000 people per square mile in the 1st to 109,000 in the 11th.

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