Britain's fast-rising population is now close to 62 million, a new official count showed yesterday.
Numbers of people in the country went up by 394,000 to reach 61,792,000 by the middle of last year, the Office for National Statistics said.
The increase of 0.6 per cent means the population has been rising steadily since the turn of the Millennium, mainly driven by immigration.
The population is now groing up at twice the rate of the 1990s and three times the speed of increase during the 1980s.
Immigrant baby boom
Population rise: The increase in the UK population has been driven by high levels of immigration, and high birth rate within immigrant groups
The latest leap in numbers has also been pushed by growing birthrates, the ONS said.
It said that 45 per cent of last year's population rise was brought about by immigration and 55 per cent by by 'natural increase' - the greater number of births than deaths.
But the rising birthrate is itself a product of immigration - one in four births last year were to mothers who were themselves born outside Britain.
The country's population rose by 176,000 as a result of migration, down on the previous year by 15,000 as the recession cut numbers of people coming into the country to find work.
Enlarge Migration table
How net migration balooned throughout the 1990s until 2006, boosting the British population
Enlarge Migration table
We're heading for 80million: How overall population is projected to grow in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, until 2051
But it is still 23 per cent higher than in 2002 when net migration, the number of people added to the population after both immigration and emigration have been counted, stood at 143,000.
The ONS believes that continuing high levels of immigration means the population will hit the politically-sensitive 70 million level in 2029.
Ministers repeated yesterday their promise to slash the number of immigrants.
Immigration Minister Damian Green said: 'We believe that immigration has been far too high in recent years, which is why the new Government will reduce net migration back down to the levels of the 1990s - to tens of thousands rather than hundreds of thousands.
'Over the coming weeks and months the public will see us tackle this issue by introducing a wide range of new measures to ensure that immigration is properly controlled, including a limit on work permits, actions on marriage and an effective system of regulating the students who come here.'