Wisconsin ranked 20th in population in the US (down from 16th in 1990) with an estimated total of 5,441,196 in 2002, an increase of 1.4% since 2000. Between 1990 and 2000, Wisconsin's population grew from 4,891,769 to 5,363,675, an increase of 9.6%. The population is projected to reach 5.9 million by 2025. The population density in 2000 was 98.8 persons per sq mi.
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, the area that is now Wisconsin was very sparsely settled by perhaps 20,000 Indians and a few hundred white settlers, most of them engaged in the fur trade. With the development of lead mining, the population began to expand, reaching a total of 30,945 (excluding Indians) by 1840. During the next two decades, the population increased rapidly to 775,881, as large numbers of settlers from the East and German, British, and Scandinavian immigrants arrived. Subsequent growth has been steady, if slower. In the late 19th century, industry expanded and, by 1930, the population became predominantly urban.
In 2000, the median age for Wisconsinites was 36. In the same year, 25.5% of the populace were under age 18 while 13.1% were age 65 or older.
The majority of Wisconsinites live in urban areas, most of them in the heavily urbanized southeastern region. Milwaukee, the largest city in Wisconsin and the 19th largest in the US, had a population of 590,895 in 2002. Other large cities, with their 2002 population estimates, were Madison, 215,211, and Green Bay, 101,515. Racine had 81,855 residents in 2000, and Kenosha had 90,352. The state's largest metropolitan area, Milwaukee-Racine, had an estimated 1,648,199 residents as of 1999.