The state government monitors the population of South Australia which continues to grow and change.

The state government prepares population projections every five years, following the release of the Census of Population and Housing published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Our current population

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) releases estimates of the resident populations (ERP) of Australia and the states and territories on a quarterly basis.

These estimates are based on the results of the most recent Census of Population and Housing which was conducted in 2016.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics estimated the resident population of South Australia at 30 June 2020 was 1,769,319 people.

This is an increase of 16,638 people since 30 June 2019 at an annual growth rate of 0.95%. Australia’s growth rate over the same period was 1.27%.

Population growth is driven by:

  • natural increase (births and deaths)
  • net migration (overseas and interstate).

Net migration contributed 70% of South Australia’s population growth in the 12 months to June 2020. Net interstate migration improved with a loss of -2,160 persons. This is a significant improvement on the recent annual average loss of around 4,400 persons.

The last quarter to June 2020 saw overseas migration fall sharply due to COVID-19 border restrictions. Over the same period there was a net interstate migration gain of 104 persons. This is the first quarterly net gain since September 2002.

South Australia's components of growth, annualised to June 2020


This chart shows South Australia's components of growth, annualised to June 2020

Component of growth Growth
Births 18,911
Deaths -13,994
Natural Increase 4,917
Net overseas migration 13,881
Net interstate migration -2,160
Net migration 11,721
Annual population growth to June 202016,638

(Year ended 30 June 2020).

More information is available from Australian Demographic Statistics - ABS catalogue 3101.0.

1,359,760 people were living in the Greater Adelaide GCCSA as at 30 June 2019, accounting for 77.6% of South Australia’s population*.

In the 12 months to 30 June 2019, the Greater Adelaide population increased by 13,900 persons at a growth rate of 1.0%. Over the same period, the Balance of SA increased by 1536 persons to a total population of 392,203.

* As per the latest available Australian Bureau of Statistics’ population estimates for local areas which are updated annually and ABS population estimates for the State level which are updated quarterly.

Of the Local Government Areas within Greater Adelaide, Onkaparinga (172,938) has the largest population, followed by Salisbury (143,560), Port Adelaide Enfield (127,740) and Charles Sturt (118,943).

In the 12 months to 30 June 2019, Mount Barker recorded the highest growth rate (2.9%), followed by Adelaide (2.6%). The middle ring metropolitan Local Government Areas of Marion, Charles Sturt and Port Adelaide Enfield combined accounted for 31% (4,306) of Greater Adelaide’s actual population growth, while the outer ring metropolitan LGA’s of Onkaparinga and Playford combined accounted for 21% (2,864).

Mount Gambier has the largest population of the Local Government Areas outside of Greater Adelaide (27,275) and experienced an increase of 98 persons in the 12 months to 30 June 2019. Port Augusta’s population declined by 240 persons over the same period. Yankalilla (1.7%) and Murray Bridge (1.5%) experienced the highest annual population growth rate in Regional SA.

Recent population change

The Attorney-General's Department monitors population change annually at different geographic levels.

South Australia’s population was 1.7 million in 2015 and by 2020 had grown to 1.77 million, an average increase of around 13,400 people per year and a growth rate of 0.78%.

Population change is driven by:

  • natural increase (births and deaths)
  • net migration (overseas and interstate).

Over the past 5 years, net migration has contributed an average of around 8,000 people per year.

South Australia's components of growth, average annual change 2015-20

South Australia's components of growth, 2013-18. Births: 19,504. Deaths: -13,704. Births and deaths give a natural increase of 5,801. Net overseas immigration: 11,967. Net interstate immigration: -5,256. Net migration gives an increase of 6,712. This leads to the average annual population growth 2014-19 of 12,512 which is a growth rate of 0.71% pa
Components of average annual population growth 2014-2019
Births 19,504
Death -13,704
Natural Increase 5,801
Net overseas migration 11,967
Net interstate migration -5,256
Net migration 6,712
Annual population growth to December 2019 12,512
Five-year average growth rate 2014-2019 0.71% per annum

Source: ABS 3101.0 -Australian Demographic Statistics (released 17 December 2020)

Annualised population growth by components of change, South Australia 2006-20

Between 2007 and 2010 large increases in net overseas migration were the major driver of increased population growth.

Declines in net overseas migration coupled with increasing net interstate migration losses slowed South Australia's population growth to 2016.

Between 2017 and 2019 increases in net overseas migration and a reduction in net interstate migration losses have boosted the state’s population growth. Recent impacts of COVID-19 have resulted in a decline in overseas migration, offset partly by further reduction in net interstate migration loss.

Natural increase has remained relatively steady since 2006 although has started a slight decline in recent years due to an ageing population and decreasing fertility rates.

Source: ABS 3101.0 -Australian Demographic Statistics (released 17 December 2020)

The Greater Adelaide Capital City region accounts for 77.6% of the State’s total population at 2019. Between 2014 and 2019 this region grew by 57,681 persons from 1.30 million to almost 1.36 million at an average of 11,536 persons or 0.9% per year.

88.7% of South Australia's total population growth between 2014 and 2019 occurred in the Greater Adelaide Capital City region.

All five Greater Adelaide Capital City sub regions experienced population growth during this period. The regions with the greatest growth were:

  • Adelaide - North which increased by 23,825 people to reach 443,074.
  • Adelaide - South with a gain of 12,899 people to reach 371,051.

The Balance of South Australia's population increased by 7337 people between 2014 and 2019 to reach 392,203. The average growth rate of 0.48% was approximately half of that seen in Greater Adelaide over the same period.

Of the six regions in the Balance of South Australia, four experienced population growth during this period. The regions with the greatest growth were Barossa - Yorke - Mid North and Fleurieu - Kangaroo Island, both of which increased by over 3,000 people during the period. The Outback - North and East region experienced a decline of 1,750 people.

The annual population growth for Greater Adelaide Capital City and the Balance of South Australia for 2014 to 2019 is displayed in Figure 4. The total South Australian growth for 2019 is the highest seen since 2014, although the portion of growth seen by the Balance of South Australia in 2019 was just half of the growth in 2014.

Figure 4: Annual population growth, Greater Adelaide Capital City and Balance of SA, 2014-19

Greater Adelaide Capital City

Between 2014 and 2019 the Playford, Port Adelaide Enfield, Salisbury and Charles Sturt LGAs experienced the greatest population growth, with each gaining more than 6000 residents.

The middle ring metropolitan LGAs of Charles Sturt, Marion and West Torrens experienced significant population increases largely due to residential infill development. The outer ring metropolitan LGAs of Playford, Salisbury, Onkaparinga, Mount Barker and Gawler saw population increases as a result of greenfield housing developments. Port Adelaide Enfield experienced its growth from a combination of small scale residential infill and the Lightsview major infill development.

The City of Adelaide recorded an average annual growth rate of 2.4% as a result of numerous apartment developments. Mount Barker and Gawler both had an average annual growth rate over 2.0%, with Playford at 1.9%.

Figure 5: Top 10 Local Government Areas by Population change, 2014-19 (Greater Adelaide Capital City)

Population Change by Local Government Area, 2013-18 GACC

Population change in Balance of South Australia Local Government Areas (LGAs)

There were significant disparities in population change in the Balance of South Australia LGAs between 2014-19. 29 LGAs experienced a growth in population, compared to 22 experiencing a decline.

Alexandrina LGA which includes the townships of Strathalbyn and Goolwa, recorded the greatest increase in population at 1722 people which is likely due to its close proximity to Adelaide. The next largest increase was in Murray Bridge with 1491 additional people.

At 2.6% Yankalilla LGA had the highest annual average growth rate followed by the Murray Bridge and Copper Coast, both with 1.4%.

Whyalla LGA recorded the greatest population declines during the 2014-19 period with a loss of just over 1000 people.

Over the 2014-19 period South Australia recorded a modest average annual growth rate of 0.8%, which aligned closely with Western Australia and Tasmania. In comparison, the eastern states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and the ACT experienced a growth rate greater than 1.5%.

As a result of this, South Australia's share of the national population has decreased from 7.2% in 2014 to 6.9% in 2019.

The three most populous states of Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland accounted for 88% (1,657,443 people) of Australia's population growth between 2014 and 2019, compared to 3.4% for South Australia.

Figure 7: Annual Average Growth, Australian States and Territories, 2014-19

Annual Average Growth, Australian States and Territories, 2013-18

Our future population

The state government provides population projections at several geographic levels which are updated every five years.

These projections follow the release of final figures from the most recent Census of Population and Housing published by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

Population projections help us to understand the most likely future size, age structure and distribution of the population of the state. These projections are fundamental to urban, transport and infrastructure planning.

These population projections comprise three series (high, medium and low) that reflect the likely range of population futures for South Australia and regions.

The medium series is the likely outcome at the time of publication, while the high and low series enable management of risks  if a population trend that is higher or lower than the medium series emerges.

The projections are based on the final results from the 2016 Census of Population and Housing and supersede those published in 2015. The South Australian Cabinet endorsed the projections for use by State agencies on 17 June 2019.

The report on Population projections for South Australia and statistical divisions  2016-2041 (PDF, 3025 KB) summarises the assumptions used to develop the projections and outlines the demographic context of the projection outcomes and their demographic  significance.

The following three visualisations summarise projected population and demographic change for South Australia and regions. You can also view these visualisations in a new window.

Explanatory notes about using population projections

Users of these projections should carefully read these explanatory notes before downloading the projections.

Population projections are not forecasts of the future. They are estimates of the future size, age structure and geographic distribution of populations based on particular assumptions about future fertility, mortality and migration.

The report Local Area (SA2 and LGA) Population projections for South Australia, 2016 to 2036 (PDF, 6497 KB) provides a summary of the Local Area Population Projections for SA to 2036. These projections follow on from, and are concordant with, the State and regional population projections for 2016 to 2041 released in June 2019. Local area projections (SA2 and LGA) are based on the medium series population projection for each region.

In South Australia there are 172 SA2s and these projections have been constrained to the 11 population projection regions. Population projections for the 68 LGAs were derived from the SA2 results. The time horizon for the SA2 level projections is from 2016 to 2036. This is 5 years less than the State and regional projections due to the greater uncertainty associated with population projections for small geographic areas.

Population regions

There are 11 population projections regions in South Australia which are based on Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) SA3 and SA4 boundaries (ABS ASGS definitions).

There are 5 population regions in Greater Adelaide Capital City which are part of the ABS Greater Capital City statistical area:

  • Inner Metro
  • Adelaide - North
  • Adelaide - South
  • Adelaide - West
  • Adelaide Hills

There are 6 population regions in the Balance of South Australia:

  • Barossa - Yorke - Mid North
  • Fleurieu - Kangaroo Island
  • Murray and Mallee
  • Limestone Coast
  • Eyre Peninsula and South West
  • Outback - North East

Map of population regions

Map of population regions along the coast. Moving from South to North along the coast, the first region is Limestone Coast incorporating Mount Gambier, Millicent, Naracoorte, Kingston SE and Bordertown. The next region is Murray and Mallee, incorporating Pinnaroo, Renmark and Murray Bridge. The next region is Barossa - Yorke - Mid North, incorporating Victor Harbor, Kingscote, Nuriootpa, Moonta, Clare, Port Pirie and Peterborough. The next region is Eyre Peninsula and South West, incorporating Port Lincoln, Whyalla, Wudinna and Ceduna. The inland region is Outback North and South, incorporating Port Augusta, Woomera, Roxby Downs and Cooper Pedy. An insert in the Barossa region shows Greater Adelaide Capital City and Statistical Area which consists of Adelaide hills region incorporating Mount Barker, Adelaide South region incorporating McLaren Vale and Onkaparinga, Inner Metro region, Inner West region and Adelaide North incorporating Salisbury and Gawle. Link opens larger version of map.