By Armen Zakarian
Armenia started on Wednesday the first census of its population since independence, which the authorities say will establish the precise number of people living in the country and help them ascertain important social and demographical indicators.
More than 15,000 government employees will visit every household across Armenia to fill out specially designed forms containing a broad range of questions. The census will last for ten days and its first tabulated results are expected to be publicized by next March. The crucial undertaking became possible after Western donors agreed to cover the bulk of the tender costs worth 1.7 billion drams ($3 million).
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian Tuesday urged citizens to cooperate with the census officials, assuring them that their personal information will be kept confidential.
Armenia’s population stood at 3.8 million in 1990. Hundreds of thousands of people have since left the country in the face of worsening living conditions. Unofficial estimates of the scale of the out-migration differ sharply, varying from 600,000 to 1.5 million.
Markarian said last week that Markarian said the census will put an end to the “political exploitation” of the problem by his government’s opponents.