Mississippi ranked 31st in population in the US with an estimated total of 2,871,782 in 2002, an increase of 1% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Mississippi's population grew from 2,573,216 to 2,844,658, an increase of 10.5%. The population is projected to reach 2,908,000 by 2005 and 3.1 million by 2025.

After remaining virtually level for 30 years, Mississippi's population during the 1970s grew 13.7%, but increased only 2.1% from 1980 to 1990. In 2000, the median age of Mississippians was 33.8. In the same year, 27.3% of the population were under the age of 18 while 12.1% were age 65 or older. The population density in 2000 was 61.8 persons per sq mi.

Mississippi remains one of the most rural states in the US, although the urban population has increased fivefold since 1920, when only 13% of state residents lived in cities. Mississippi's largest city, Jackson, had an estimated 2002 population of 180,881, down from 193,097 in 1994. Biloxi and Gulfport are other major cities with large populations. The Jackson metropolitan area had an estimated population of 432,647 in 1999.