Canberra's population has sprinted past 420,000 on the back of the second fastest growth rate in the nation, new statistics show.
The territory grew by 8935 people in 2017-2018, up 2.2 per cent on 2016-17, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures published on Wednesday.
Canberra's population now sits at 420,960.
Canberra's rapid growth rate was bettered only by that recorded in Melbourne, where the population in the Victorian capital ballooned by 2.5 per cent to 4.96 million. That means about 327 people arrived in Melbourne each day in 2017-2018.
Nationwide, capital cities grew by 1.9 per cent, while Australia's regional population increased by one per cent. Those increases were on par with population growth in the past three years, according to the bureau's demography director, Beidar Cho.
In the ACT, overseas migration accounted for more than half of its overall population increase in 2017-18. "Natural increase" - the sum of births minus deaths - was responsible for about 40 per cent of the growth. Interstate arrivals contributed just six per cent to Canberra's boom in the 12-month period.
Australian National University demographer Liz Allen said population data should help inform future planning in Canberra, but warned against "obsessing" over growth rates and targets.
"We have to look beyond numbers - it's about how the population is comprised in terms of age, sex and what our workforce looks life ," Dr Allen said.
She said the relatively low number of interstate arrivals was proof there needed to be a "more concerted effort" to market Canberra as an attractive destination to live and work, particularly to people in Melbourne and Sydney.
But a spokeswoman for Chief Minister Andrew Barr said Canberra's recent run of strong population growth showed it was becoming a popular destination.
The spokeswoman stressed the importance of planning and building for the future to avoid "Sydney-style gridlock" as Canberra grows in the coming decades.
"We currently have a $2.8 billion pipeline of new infrastructure in the works – including a major expansion of the Canberra Hospital with the new SPIRE Centre, the light rail network, and new schools in Molonglo and other growth regions," the spokeswoman said.
The bureau's statistics showed Canberra's growth has been spread across the territory, with population hot-spots appearing around Gungahlin, Weston Crek, Tuggeranong and Woden.
Moncreiff was Canberra's biggest growth suburb, with the population of the Gungalin neighbourhood almost doubling in size in 2017-18. The population of Lawson in Belconnen jumped by almost 150 per cent to about 1750 people.
At the other end of the scale, population numbers fell most sharply in Jacka (down 4.4 per cent), Charnwood (down 1.9 per cent) and Red Hill (down 1.8 per cent).
The bureau's latest long-term population projections has forecasted Canberra's population to reach half a million people within a decade.
The territory's population was tipped to swell to between 612,000 and 939,000 by 2066, according to predictions published in November.
Canberra's top 10 suburbs for population growth
Canberra's top 10 suburbs for population decline
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