The 2000 Population and Housing Census put the population of the East Gonja District at 174,500 (Special Reports) and it is currently estimated at 197,932 using an annual rate of growth 2.1% per annum.
The district’s share of the total population of the Northern Region is 9.67%, second after the Tamale Municipality. The total population of the Northern Region stood at 1,820,806 (as at 2000). The district’s population growth rate is 2.1% (1984-2000), lower than both the regional and national averages of 2.9% and 2.5% respectively. The growth rate for the 1970-1984 Censual periods was 3.9%, which indicates a significant decline in the growth rate of the population 2.1%.
This relatively low population growth rate could be explained by increased out-migration from the District combined with modest success of population control and education measures of the Ministry of Health. This lower population growth rate in East Gonja District is an asset to be maintained and reinforced through conscious policy, promotional and educational measures.
Spatial Distribution of Population
The population of the district is predominantly rural. A total of 152,146 of the population, representing about 86.4% (2000) is located in rural communities. This indicates a decline in the rural population compared to the 1984, 1970 and 1960 figures of 86.8%, 91.2 and 100% respectively.
The proportion of the population located in urban communities is gradually increasing considerably. The urban population in the district in 1970 was merely 8.8% and this has increased to 13.6% by 2000.
The composition of households in the district is a reflection of the extended family system generally practiced in the district. This system enables several households of external family members to live in the same housing units. The composition of households still includes persons outside the nuclear or immediate family. Children constitute between 50 to 70% of households. Household heads serve as the authority figure and often the main provider for the household. Heads of households in the district are mainly male. The average household size among the 20 largest settlements in the district is about 6.6.
The three main religious groupings are found in the East Gonja District: Islam, Christianity and Traditional. From the table, 36.4% of the population are Christians, 34.9% are Moslems whilst traditional Religion constitute 21.3%. The three main religious groups have been living in harmony with each of them tolerating one another.
Traditionally, Salaga was a world renowned centre of excellence in Islamic education. The town has a long tradition of Islamic schools, with learned Islamic scholars mentoring a large number of students from across West Africa and the Sahel.
Refer to pdf file for tables.