An operation to count the population of a country.

A census is the process of counting every member of a population living in a particular territory at a particular time.
All inhabitants fill in a census form and the data is processed to determine the characteristics of the population concerned (sex, age, occupation, housing conditions, place of work or study, etc.). Censuses may be varied in scope (local, national, etc.).

Censuses provide a means to determine the population’s needs in terms of community infrastructure: schools, hospitals, public transport etc. They also enumerate the resident population, upon which many legal texts relating to elections and public financing are based.

Most countries conduct a census every five or ten years. In France, the last general population census was in 1999. Since 2004, a new method has been introduced, with a proportion of the population being surveyed on an annual basis.