Louisiana ranked 24th in population in the US with an estimated total of 4,482,646 in 2002, an increase of 48% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Louisiana's population grew from 4,219,973 to 4,468,976, an increase of 5.9%. The population is projected to reach 4,535,000 by 2005 and 5.1 million by 2025.
At the time of the 1980 census, Louisiana ranked 19th among the 50 states, with a population of 4,203,972, representing an increase of more than 15% since 1970. However, by 1990 the population was 4,219,973, representing only a 0.3% gain, and ranking had slipped to 21st. The population density in 2000 was 102.6 persons per sq mi.
In 2000 the median age was 34. Persons under 18 years old accounted for 27.3% of the population while 11.6% were age 65 or older.
New Orleans is the largest city, with an estimated 2002 population of 473,681, followed by Baton Rouge, 225,702; and Shreveport, 199,033. Baton Rouge, the capital, had grown with exceptional speed since 1940, when its population was 34,719; however, since 1980, the population has been decreasing. Among the state's largest metropolitan areas were New Orleans, with an estimated 1,305,479 in 1999, and Baton Rouge, with 578,946.