The population of the Northern Territory (NT) is on average much younger and more mobile than the Australian population in general. In this section, analysis is provided on the key components of the NT’s population growth. This includes the estimated resident population, natural increase (births and deaths), net interstate migration and net overseas migration. It also looks at population trends by regions and the Aboriginal population.

 infographic showing aboriginal population   

Background | Key facts | Population growthRegional population | Aboriginal population l Explanatory notes


The estimated resident population (ERP) is the official Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) measure of Australia’s population at a given point in time. It quantifies the number of usual residents of Australia and locations within Australia. The ERP provides the best available estimation of the NT’s resident population. The ERP is based on the results of the five‑yearly Census of Population and Housing, updated quarterly between censuses using information on births, deaths, net interstate migration (NIM) and net overseas migration (NOM).

Most ERP data in this section is reported on a financial‑year basis (as at 30 June). For the latest available data and analysis about the NT’s population, see the Department of Treasury and Finance’s (DTF's) Population economic brief. DTF also produces Population Projections, which are estimates of the future size and characteristics of the NT's population.

The 2018-2028 Northern Territory Population Growth Strategy is a framework for attracting people to the NT, and encouraging those already here to stay for the long term. For more information on the strategy, visit the NT Government’s Population Growth Strategy website.

The NT’s population, comprising 1% of the total Australian population, is spread over the third largest Australian jurisdiction by geographical area, making it the most sparsely populated jurisdiction, with 0.2 persons per square kilometre. Over half (59.6%) of the NT’s population resides in Greater Darwin and the remainder is dispersed over remote and very remote areas. About one third of the NT’s population is Aboriginal, around 80% of whom live in remote and very remote areas.

The NT has a younger age profile than Australia as a whole (Chart 1), with a median age of 32.9 years, in comparison with 37.3 years for Australia. The large number of persons aged 25 to 34 years in the NT is indicative of the NT’s economy, dominated by mining, construction and defence. These industries also typically employ more men than women, skewing the NT’s gender balance, with 108 males for every 100 females, compared to less than 99 males for every 100 females for Australia.

Population change within the NT is volatile, driven by movement of the non‑Aboriginal population to and from the NT, largely in response to changing employment opportunities within and external to the NT. Variations in NIM and NOM highlight the volatility in mobility of this population (Chart 2).

Key facts

Population growth

Natural increase



Interstate migration

Overseas migration

Regional population

Greater Darwin

Rest of the NT

Aboriginal population

Explanatory notes