Ecuador’s National Institute of Statistics and Censuses (INEC) reports that Cuenca’s population has grown by 85,000, or about 18 percent, since the 2010 census. The city’s metropolitan population at the end of 2016 stands at 614,000, the institute says. Cuenca is the fastest growing city in percentage terms of the country’s top 10 most populous cities.
A major factor in the growth, which exceeded INEC’s earlier estimates by more than half of a percent per year, was the return of thousands of Ecuadorians living overseas, mostly in the U.S., Spain and Italy. The influx could be as high as 28,000 since 2010, INEC says.
A net gain of births over deaths, and continuing immigration of residents from rural areas to the city, is also fueling growth INEC says.
Foreigners moving to the city is another factor cited by INEC. It estimates that there were 17,000 foreigners living in Cuenca in November 2016, up from only 6,000 in 2010. Of those 17,000, 6,000 are from the U.S. and Canada, compared to about 1,500 in 2010. The Venezuelan expat community, estimated at 2,000, is the fastest growing.
Cuenca is Ecuador’s third largest city after Quito and and Guayaquil, both of which grew at an annual rate of one and half percent, INEC says. Quito is gaining on Guayaquil, with a population of 2,701,700 vs. 2,739,917 for Guayaquil, and INEC predicts it will become the most populous city in Ecuador before the 2020 census.
INEC estimates Cuenca’s population will grow to 1.3 million by 2050.
Ecuador’s largest cities, behind Cuenca, are Santo Domingo, 418,000, Ambato, 365,000 and Portoviejo, 307,500.
Azuay Province grew from a population of 760,000 to 865,000 since 2010. The largest municipalities in the province, after Cuenca, are Gualaceo, 49,864, Sígsig, 31,421, Ponce Enríquez, 29,593, and Paute, 30,911.